National Poetry Day always seems to fall on an awkward day for us – Thursdays are always a nightmare at this time of year – so we’ve shifted it forward a week.
Last year‘s event worked quite well, and we ended up with a rather lovely collection of decorated stars complete with strange associations, making beautiful displays around the school.
This year, the theme is water, and originally we had all sorts of fabulous ideas for jars of floating poetry and watery events, but October sneaked up on us again, and again I was out of school. A quick meeting in a corridor later, we simplified the entire process: just get the pupils to write a line of poetry on the shape of a water drop, and then decorate it again as last year. Poems would be available via links on the LRC website or (if especially requested), in e-mail. Plus, I sent a message to all teaching staff suggesting that they might want to get involved if any of their classes were studying anything remotely water themed. Facts about canals and watery words (or les mots d’eau?) in French and Spanish were now to be included. We looked forward to more eye-catching displays.
Well, of course it wasn’t. No problem adding links to suitable websites, except of course, not every poem is ‘suitable‘, say for 1st years, and I wasn’t expecting some of the options that popped up! (This is why you always check twice). Most importantly, picking a single line or two out of a poem to express a thought or a description isn’t especially easy. I know, I tried in advance. The Scottish Poetry Library examples were beautiful, but we didn’t want this to be a constant repeat of the same lines.
Then one of the English teachers told me she had got her class to brainstorm synonyms for water and consider words to go with them. Simple, easy, effective, guaranteed to mention water in some form.
And so, starting today, that’s what we’ve done, and it has been brilliant. In fact, we ran out of water drops, and I’ve had to order more photocopies. (Not sure what it says about me as a librarian that it took twenty minutes before I thought to bring over the water related books 😳 )
However, I reckon National Poetry Day is a perfect way to take the library outside. We have a beautiful country park filled with wonderful trees, buildings and downright weird stuff right beside us, and it’s just begging to be used for days like this. It’s going to take a whole pile of administration and organisation, but imagine the fun of poetry walks in the woods, gathering sensations as you go, maybe even borrowing the iPads for photos and notes as inspiration hits.
Bet it rains next year!