While winter winds danced outside, a group of children lounged peacefully on cushions and bean bags on a picnic rug. They had gathered in an art filled room in front of an open fire to tell stories and explore poetry, with children’s writer and poet, Jenni L Ivins.
Against the crackling of the shielded fire, the CD player emitted sounds of river life and birdsong. A scattering of river rocks on a groundsheet in the corner evoked further feeling of camping outdoors.
To complete the mood, Jenni read Walter de la Mere’s Someone, the first two stanzas of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood. The group discussed, brainstormed, wrote and workshopped, exploring poetic tools and forms.
The participants used ‘stream of consciousness’ writing to free them from writer’s block and Jenni shared other prompts and strategies for creating ideas.
Rhythm was developed through the marking of footsteps and the gentle banging of river rock to set the pace of each line. Music was used as a template for metre and also for inspiration.
By the end of the workshop, each child had acquired and honed new writing skills through the process of making rough drafts and completing their own workshopped poem to take home. Jenni also gave them details and entry forms for a children’s poetry competition they could enter.
A highpoint for Jenni occurred one hour into the workshop when a boy asked, “You will be coming back again, won’t you; so we can do this again next holidays?”
The children didn’t even want to stop for a break, instead nibbling on fruit while continuing to write and work on their poems. The event was certainly a huge success.