Monday 23 October 2017

Playing with Poetry • Lynne Garner

I'm not only a writer but I also teach on a part time basis. Thankfully my employer is forward thinking when it comes to CPD (Continued Professional Development) and they provide us with a small budget to spend on learning something new. So, this year I decided I'd do a poetry course. I have no plans to write a picture book that rhymes (if you do then read this fab post that appeared on the Picture Book Den in 2012 - How *not* to write a rhyming picture book story). However, I've always believed if you can write poetry well and understand the process this will help your picture book writing skills.
Granddad looking very dapper

Also I feel I have a family tradition to keep up. You see my granddad used to write poetry and so does my mum. Here's a sample of their work.

The first written by my granddad (who sadly died many years ago). Written after I demanded he write me something, I was very young. As far as I know it's untitled.

To write a rhyme is sometimes hazy,
In fact, it almost drives one crazy!
But sitting here you start to think
is it me, or the drain that stinks!
Then you give up, in complete despair
and decide not to write it,


Here's a poem written by my mum entitled 'An Ode to Our Dad'

Yep, that's how I remember my dad! 

I’ve got a brand new cistern
so wouldn’t it be great
If you should get a sudden urge
to start to decorate,
a strip or two of paper
a ceiling shining bright.
I’m only just a ‘wee’ room
no need to quake in fright.
In just a few short hours
I could be bright and new.
No need to wait and worry
should someone say to you,
‘Please may I use your toilet,
 I really cannot wait.’
Only to be confronted
with me in this sorry state.
So come on now get cracking
don’t sit here and dream
really make me sparkly
above all MAKE ME CLEAN!

I recently completed the first assignment and I'm now working on my second. For this I have to write twelves lines of blank verse and twelve lines of rhyme. Now, I don't normally do this, share a work in progress. But time is not on my side so I'm sharing this first draft (so do be kind). Working title is 'Balls.' 

Tasha with her collection of found balls!

Golf, volley, squash ball and hockey
Rugby, tennis, golf ball and cricket
She'll jump into ditches, ponds and streams
Weave through grass, nettles and thicket

She can spot them in tall grass.
Spy one hidden under a bush.
She'll pick up one with ease,
But will manage two, at a push.

Balls of all descriptions are fair game.
She emerges to be congratulated
For rescuing the once round ball
Which is now very deflated.

In the ditch, knee deep in mud.
"No, no!" She ignores my call.
"How did you spot that?"
"Great, another dirty football."

I realise this stands at 16 lines and not the 12 set in my assignment. But as I polish this first draft I'll decide which four lines have to go (something picture book writers often have to do, cut lines) and hone my writing skills as I work. Which, with fingers crossed will make me a better picture book writer.


P.S. If any poets are out there can explain 'metre' to me I'd be very grateful.

To check out my books please simply click here.
My latest collection of short stories 'Ten Tales of Brer Rabbit' is available in paperback (£4.45) and as an ebook (just 99p).


Jane Clarke said...

Enjoy the course, and following in the family footsteps, Lynne. Your post and the photos made me smile because my Dad was always rhyming, and making up silly rhyming songs, too. The first things I ever had published were poems, and writing poetry definitely helps me write picture books (rhyming and non rhyming).

Lucy Rowland said...

Hi Lynne, I'd love to do a poetry course. I really enjoy rhyme but would like the challenge of writing in blank verse. Would you recommend the course you're currently doing?

Paeony Lewis said...

A few years ago I attended poetry courses and really enjoyed them, though the pulling apart of our homework could be demoralising (we learnt to avoid all clichés if we didn't want to receive the scathing, raised eyebrow of one tutor!). We were pushed towards literary poetry and it was emphasised that we should find new ways of portraying the world, emotions, etc., and leave 'space' for the reader.
Regarding rhyme, personally I'm not a fan of obvious rhyme but I've collected a few bits for the students I tutored on my picture book courses - I'll hunt them out for you.
Have fun, Lynne, and thanks for reminding me I should read and write more poetry. :-)

Lynne Garner said...

Do you have any of your Dad's work? I wish I had more of my granddads. Reading my mums brings back fond memories of when/why they were written.

Lynne Garner said...

Lucy - Although I'm only on the second section I've found what I've learnt so far interesting and help, so yes I would recommend. It's run by the people who publish the Writing Magazine. The contact details are: - 01778 392492. I think I found the details in the magazine itself.

Lynne Garner said...

Paeony - thanks for sending the notes, much appreciated. I like rhyme, even the obvious stuff. Which is why I tackled that part of the assignment first. The free form is a little of my comfort zone. Which is something I'm always trying to get my students to step into, so I shall embrace it and see where it leads me.