June 18, 2006

World Cup Football Poetry Workshop for children, Millennium Library, Norwich, Saturday June 17

Ronaldo goes into a burger bar and asks for two whoppas. The sales assistant responds, "You’re not fat - and you’ve still got it..."

Well the mums got the joke anyway!

I met two splendid young poets, appropriately called Sophie and Hannah, and Jamie who turned up wearing a Norwich City baseball hat looking very nervous and ended the day with the biggest grin I've seen on a Norwich fan since the Sunday they all celebrated their last promotion to the Premiership.

Three organisers - from at least two organisations, I lost count - also turned up at various stages of the proceedings and John Thompson, an extremely helpful librarian - and keen comic poet in his own right - popped in several times, beyond the call of duty, with some much appreciated assistance, and colourful World Cup stickers. (He also put in an order for my latest book to join the library stock.)

The mums read a copy of Exile while waiting and laughed a good deal. Special thanks to Jamie's mum who helped the (initially almost silent!) group make a genuine racket during the final call and response activity, with Jamie on rattle and Sophie/Hannah on big drum, as we composed an England tribal "Everywhere We Go" chant for the terraces. "We are the boys in blue and white, Love to watch tv all night, We 'ate Argentina, Crespo is a plonker..."

Other tasks included writing the Imaginary Madrid fantasy news report in which England (or in one case Spain!) win the World Cup Final and of course making that tableau of poor old Tommy Doherty's goal on the front cover of "Sheer Paltry" before writing captions and then poems in role as one of the characters. (The fed up steward was as usual a great favourite).

Then we had squash and biscuits provided by Creative Arts East. The ages today were 9-11 and two differences from the secondary age group I noticed are (1) I have to go a bit slower at first as the kids find their confidence and comfort zone and (2) Their imaginary world is extraordinarily bright and vivid and, with a bit of care and guidance, activities like these can open up a rich vein of intelligence that will hopefully never leave them. Sadly I don’t think they get this sort of self-discovery from cramming for SATS!

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