Poetry Friday: Oh The Places You’ll Go

We sent Year 13 on their way today. Obviously they’ll be back for exams and results, and some of them pop in from time to time to say hello when they’re home from university which is always nice, but it’s a big day. I’ve taught some of them for four years, GCSE and A level, which is quite a long time really. I’ve enjoyed this year’s groups very much. They put together a leaver’s video, which I’m sure will be on youtube soon – last year’s currently has 8000 views which, considering the entire school is 800, is fairly impressive! …

Poetry Friday: Cinderella (Roald Dahl)

I love Roald Dahl’s work when I was little. We had an animated video of Revolting Rhymes (one of  which is below) and watched it over and over. I loved the slightly older books, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Witches kind of books, the ones that left you feeling like something terrible but wonderful had just happened to something familiar. I think what I loved about these poems (The Revolting Rhymes) was the subversion of the fairy-tales; it was long before I’d come across the original Grimm versions so pretty much the versions I knew were Disneyfied …

Poetry Friday: This is just to say (Williams Carlos Williams)

It might be Sunday, but I’m catching up on this post anyway 🙂 It’s been a very hectic week! This is always an interesting poem to kick start a discussion on what a poem really, truly, IS. Often if you ask someone that question without any guidance, their list will include things like: It rhymes It’s got a rhythm It’s got short lines You might then, with a  bit of pushing and prodding, get to something along the lines of having more imagery, somehow, than a novel (though it’s often hard to define) and that it doesn’t usually tell a …

Poetry Friday: The Darkling Thrush (Thomas Hardy)

Thomas Hardy’s poetry often has some gorgeous images in it, and I certainly feel at the moment that, with ice on my car in the mornings in March, we are experiencing the “dregs of winter”! In the first stanza here there’s plenty to feel sad about – the broken lyres, haunting of mankind, the scored sky. Yet then, through it all, comes the song of the thrush singing its “full hearted evensong / of joy illimited”. I love the line that the thrush “chose to fling his soul / upon the growing gloom” – the idea that no matter how dark …

Poetry Friday: Mirror (Sylvia Plath)

Sylvia Plath’s poem is heart-rending to anyone who’s ever struggled with self-image, literally disliking what they see in the mirror in front of them or with their perception of themselves. When she calls the mirror a “little god”, she’s absolutely right in the petty yet all-consuming obsession that can result from putting too much faith in your perception of the reflection rather than trying to see the ‘truth’ – whatever that might be. It can be destroying, looking at your reflection and seeing what you think is less than what it should be, whether you struggle with body consciousness, weight, …

How to start a great essay

Essay writing is a great way to practise writing skills, whether your preferred genre is fiction or non-fiction. You need to have a clear goal in mind, your phrasing needs to be both beautiful and clear, and you need to make every word, as when writing poetry, count. It’s always been a great art form too – although I suppose essayists were something like the newspaper editorial columnists of their day! While columnists write generally on relatively transient and personal ideas, the great essayists wrote meditations where they really thought about the big questions. William Hazlitt and John Stuart Mill …