Guest Blog: Poetry Together at Feversham College

Poetry Together is very pleased to be able to introduce Lisa Altobelli and her students at Feversham College for the next two blogs in the Poetry Together series. Lisa has been one of our most enthusiastic supporters and we are very glad to be able to give her and her wonderful students this platform. The first blog is about the experience that Lisa and her student Safeerah had of writing a poem together.

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Lisa: When I first found out about this competition, I was so excited at the idea of my students working with an adult to produce a poem. We do a lot of creative writing here at Feversham College but it is often quite a personal, almost introspective exercise, and the idea of sharing the actual process with someone really inspired us.

I thought that before I launched the idea in school, it would be great to have a go at doing it myself, so I asked Safeerah, one of my superstar students to have a go at co-writing. She’s a far more accomplished writer than I’ll ever be, so it was a fantastic opportunity to gain some tips and tap into her creative spirit.

Safeerah: Poetry together was an awesome experience- as so often writing is a sole project. To begin with I was quite hesitant- thinking that my own writing would probably spoil the piece as a whole or it may not gel well with Ms. A’s writing voice. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Lisa: I think the biggest challenge was deciding what to write about – we thought of a number of things – a shared memory, a shared emotion, different perspectives on something, and eventually came up with the idea of us both writing about our first impressions of India/ Pakistan. We came at it from very different perspectives – me as a tourist travelling alone and her as a child visiting her family – so we really wanted the insider/ outsider idea to come across in our writing.

Safeerah: Our writing styles differ in many ways yet I found that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. What we produced was a unique mosaic of two very different voices- each brimming with their own experiences of the world as whole not solely the trip to India/Pakistan.

Lisa: The best bit for me was the editing part; putting our ideas together and having the chance to steal some of Safeerah’s words was great!

Safeerah: That for me was the best part – the end result. Having the pleasure to read words that were both mine and not mine.

Lisa: When I launched this idea in school, I asked my students to have a go at writing with each other in class – so that they had an idea of just how fun it could be. They absolutely rose to the challenge and we have some really heart-warming pieces that I am going to display. This inspired them to go home and ask parents, grandparents, cousins, aunties and older siblings to have a go at writing with them – in English and in other languages – and I cannot wait to see what they produce.

Safeerah: I can’t wait to try this approach again!

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If you want to take part in the Poetry Together competition, it’s easy! Just click here for more details.

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