I recently sang the praises of the extremely wonderful The Nature Activity Book on Poetry Box and said it filled me with a galaxy of poem ideas.
The grey sand at Te Henga beach
wrinkles and crumples
like elephant skin.
I listen for trumpets and rumbles,
but all I hear is the sweet cheep
of the scuttery dotterel.
Paula Green (inspired by Patterns in Nature)
So for September I am creating some poem challenges based on ideas in the book. You can pick one or more. Thanks to Te Papa Press I have up to four books to give away to young poets whose writing really catches my attention.
I suggest you don’t send your poems / artwork the day you write but wait for a week and see if you’d like to change anything. I think part of being a writer is letting things simmer and then seeing how the flavours change in a few days time.
The tip for these challenges is to GO OUTSIDE and explore, using all your senses, rather than imagining. This is when science and poetry join hands and you use words to show what you discover as a nature explorer. Two challenges get you to use your IMAGINATION.
You might like to do a drawing, comic strip or painting to go with your poem.
I will read all your poems at the end of the month and write a letter back to you.
DEADLINE: 28th September
Find a place to sit and scavenge for sounds. It might be in your garden, a park, a paddock, in the bush or when you go the beach.
Write down all the sounds you can hear.
Beside each sound find words to describe the sound, what it reminds you of.
Now use your sound collection to make a poem. The sound will help the place where you are sitting come alive in the poem.
Patterns in nature
Nature is full of glorious patterns.
I love walking on the beach and hunting for patterns (see my elephant poem).
You can find patterns on leaves, insects, animals, honeycomb, sand, bark, plants, shells, spiders webs.
Find a pattern in nature that fascinates you.
Jot down words as you look and discover.
Try writing a little poem that explores the pattern.
Hunt for some little objects. You might like to study them with a magnifying glass.
You could hunt for tiny seeds, marbles, nuts, flowers, pebbles, grass blades …
Beside each object jot down what you see and what you feel when you touch it.
Look at the colours, patterns, shapes, textures.
You might go hunting for similes.
How many words can you jot down beside each thing.
Now use your discoveries to write a poem.
It might be about one object or several. Over to you!
Listen to your poem.
Underline the words that shine on the line.
A habitat is the place where an animal lives in nature.
This is a chance to use your IMAGINATION!
Make up a habitat for an imaginary creature.
Jot down what the habitat looks like. You could even sketch it to help picture it.
What plants, animals, water, weather might you find? What is the land like?
If you shut your eyes what would you hear?
What movement do you see?
Now use your imagination to write a poem about your habitat.
Your poem might tell a story.
It might be like a photo of the place.
Stories are treasure troves of mythical beasts: think of dragons and phoenixes, griffins, yetis and unicorns.
Invent your own mythical beast. You might like to draw it to help picture it.
Jot down ideas before you write your poem.
Think about eyes, ears, skin, legs, tails, feathers, fur, scales, noses.
Does it have any special features?
Find words to show how it moves, the sounds it makes.
Where does it live? Sleep?
What does it eat? Do during the day or the night?
Now choose what you put in your poem.
Listen to how your poem flows.
Will it tell a story?
Will it create a picture of the animal?
Birds and beaks
For this challenge you need to do some research – either in books, online or outside.
Make a set of sketches of the beaks of birds.
What do you discover?
Why do they look different?
What do they have to do?
Make some notes for each beak.
Now write a bird beak poem.
Hunt for similes and verbs.
Hunt for words to show shape, texture, colour.
Listen to your poem before you send it to me.
I love watching kapua, the clouds in the sky.
Find a good cloud-watching spot and make a list of what you see.
Jot down what the cloud looks like.
Can you find out what kinds of clouds they are – the English or te reo words?
What facts can you discover about the type of cloud you see?
Poets have always loved writing about clouds.
Write a cloud poem that uses what you see and maybe what you have researched.
You don’t have to include everything.
Try writing a longer cloud poem.
Try writing a small poem about one type of cloud.
Listen to how your poem flows.
Which words add to the cloud picture?
SEND TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
INCLUDE: your name, age, year, school
IMPORTANT: Put Nature Activity Poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email
I will reply to all letters at the end of the month, pick some poems to post early October and have four books to give away thanks to Te Papa Press.