Archives for posts with tag: Olympic










Olympic Shape Poetry

It was good to see poetry and literature feature in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympics. As the Crown Street library summer writing sessions come to a close we looked at the shapes hidden within photographs of Olympic events.  Circles, triangles and rectangles were the most common – in the rings, medals, clocks, torch, flames, and flags.

Participants selected one of these shapes and mindstormed lists of  words associated it.  Words were both themed and non-themed around sports. The circle proved to be the most inspirational shape to work with. Once the young people had gathered their lists of words, they shaped them into poems, then collaged them in a variety of ways as demonstrated in the photograph. One young lady set herself the challenge of creating a story cube out of her poem so that the lines are read out as numbers would be on the roll of a dice. I believe dad is helping with the final construction of that piece.

Poppy wrote Silver Glory

Shining bright

day and night

a silver disc

not the moon

throwing out light

around your neck.

The triangle shape reminded me of the Poetry Pod installations that are touring selected coastal locations around the country:

They sit in the field

waiting for nightfall.

As the sun dips

below the horizon

lights come on within.

Dimmed at first,

then brighter and brighter

until the field look like

ten thousand fireflies

have landed for the night.

Hopefully the work we have been doing with young people during this project will have ignited their creative sparks.

I look forward to hearing the final version of the Renga Relay which has been touring primary schools and libraries in the region, and to the presentation of Special Edition Bronze Arts Awards to young people of secondary school age who completed poetry/theatre portfolios as part of the Winning Words project. These are two of the items planned for a Celebration Evening at NeST on National Poetry Day.


School teachers from Darlington, County Durham and Teesdale attended the first Generator Training session at Teesdale School last week.  Poet Jeff Price facilitated the session in the school’s I.T. Suite.  Jeff gave an introductory talk on the theory and philosophy behind the Generator, the Winning Words interactive online poetry bank, covering topics such as shape poetry and haiku.  Teachers were then given the opportunity to try the Generator out for themselves and discussed how to incorporate use of the system within their own classroom settings.

Comments from participants include: ‘I will use the Generator – starting this week, with children in my class.  It’s especially good, I think, for the less able children, but I like the facility for more confident children to add their own words.’

‘Practical ideas to take back into the classroom.  Good to be able to have a go.’

‘Definitely a new approach to try in the classroom.  Programme easy to use’.

The next training session is scheduled for Wednesday 13th June from 4-5.30p.m.

On this occasion, Jeff will cover Rap Battles and Performance Poetry as well as giving teachers the opportunity to create their own original Olympic verse using the Generator.

The venue is Teesdale School, Prospect Place, Barnard Castle, DL12 8HH

Places are free and can be booked in advance through project lead Judith Lesley Marshall via or tel: 07808 063944

Schools participating in Generator training will be invited to take part in a Renga Relay from the 20th June to the 4th October.  The final Renga will be read during a Winning Words/ National Poetry Day celebration event at NeST gallery, Barnard Castle on Thursday 4th October at 7p.m.

During the summer both Barnard Castle and Darlington libraries will be running Olympic-themed writing sessions for 7-11 year olds.  These will complement the library services’ summer reading challenge.


Generator Training at Teesdale School with Jeff Price

Textile artist Lone Helliwell meets poet Anne Dauber

Textile artist Lone Helliwell met poet Anne Dauber recently to discuss the format for the Olympic Textile Art Workshops.

Anne has supplied photographs of the barn and area that inspired her poem the Great Grey Barn.

Participants will be invited to use both these and words from the poem to inspire their own work.

Lone has set up a series of 2 hour sessions during which people will be invited to create 5″ squares using a variety of textile techniques.

The following dates are for workshops held at NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle.

Tuesday 12th June 1.30 – 3.30p.m.

Friday 15th June 2 – 4p.m.

Friday 13th July 2 – 4p.m.

To book a place e-mail: or tel: 07413 101014

People wishing to submit textile squares without attending workshops can do so by sending them together with name, address and contact details to:

Judith Lesley Marshall, Winning Words Textile Installation, c/o  NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NG by Saturday 21st July 2012.

Remember to include brief information about the techniques used and the parts of the poem depicted in the square.  All squares will be considered for inclusion in the final installation which will tour village halls and community spaces as of October 2012.

For those of you who missed the poem first time round, please read on:

The great grey barn where the cows once lived

lies empty now.

Straw abandoned like

an unmade bed,

the hollow which was, for those blackened months, their Winter womb

lies cold.


I passed your barn

every day and saw your bovine stare,

snug within the parameters of your stone house,

high pillows of dense packed snow.


Monochrome scene from the window,

hills creased by rocks

full stopping the landscape.

My eyes rest on the hush and linger.

Desolate, dank.  Lie still.  No rush.

But the Winter comes and goes, as it pleases.


High on the hills now

dawdling away the afternoon

their great backsides

sodden, slapped

with the soil from a sepia Winter


Your faces staring back through the grills on the broad gate

crushing the cud, your insolent eyes watching me shiver.


Now, I idly watch at you from my kitchen window

while you come to visit, calf in tow,

eyes wide with looking at

the machinery of my life

and all that I need, just to be able to eat.

While you chew in my face,

rubbing it in.

The nettles around your hooves flattened

as you tread between

the saucers of marsh marigold.


I am glad.


Cow in the Great Grey Barn

It’s a while since I’ve mentioned what the Turrets Group have been up to for their Special Olympic Edition Bronze Arts Award.  Each week they have an hour to an hour and a half of poetry related skills followed by the equivalent time of theatrical activities.

In the poetry sessions over the last few weeks they have shared favourite songs and poems, worked on alpha and acrostic poetry, researched arts heroes/heroines, identified skills to share with younger members of Turrets, and produced free verse based on sports objects.

Sports kit bag

The young people had so much fun with the Sports Kit bag exercise that they would like to share that idea with you.

First assemble a number of sports related object in a kit bag.

Ask members of your class/group to select an object from the bag without looking.

Ask them to think about how this object feels, smells, hears, looks and possibly even tastes!

Note down what thoughts it would have about taking part in sports practice or Olympic events.

Write a poem in free verse from the point of view of the object.

Examples of this type of poem and other sources of inspiration can be found at  Go to poems in the classroom, click ‘here to play’, secondary, imaginative voice, over to you, free verse.

In the meantime, Liam Samson would like you to read this poem inspired by the jogger’s key ring:

The Key Ring

I am a key ring, I do not see a thing.

When the crowd cheers, I can hear.

When the athletes are proud and the audience are loud I can hear every sound.

I improve a key for only the athlete to see.

When the games are over I slumber for a number of four years.

When I’m back I finally act the proud decoration I was meant to be.

The Turrets group will be performing examples of their Dickens inspired poetry at NeST gallery on Wednesday 20th June, the day the Olympic torch passes through the town.  Tickets for the performance which starts at 7p.m. cost £2 and are available either from Jill Cole or NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NG.  Tel: 07413 101014

Bronze Arts Award Group working on the Dickens Challenge

Bronze Arts Award Group working on the Dickens Challenge

As World Poetry Day approaches members of the Turrets Bronze Arts Award group have been working on their Dickens Challenge.  In keeping with the ethos of the Olympic Generator Game, an online interactive poetry bank, the young people have been using a bank of words drawn from the 8 Dickens poems mentioned in the previous blog post as inspiration for their own poems.

One of the group immediately saw a Hero’s journey storyline in the poems and is working on a narrative poem about Lucy’s story, another started with ‘worms’ as the stimulus for a power point presentation incorporating finger acting to illustrate the poem.  As ever I am amazed at the creative imaginations of these talented young people.

If you would like to join in the challenge, use the word bank below to construct your own poems or quatrains and comment about the process.


a and angels alone are around at autumn beautiful bed bid blew bough brake brave by came cell child childhood choice cold command creatures creepeth dainty dale day deep didst done down drear drove dusting Edmund eat earth ere eventide father far feet few food for forest Gabriel George glade god green grown Grub had hand he head hear heavenly here high his holy hopes how hundred human hymn I in is ivy juicy keep kneel’d labourers land landscape lay leaves lie life like lodgings lone Lucy man me meadow meal(s) mound my Northon O oer of oh old on one pale peaceful people’s plant prayer prophet pure quiet raved rich richly right rocky round ruins sad sand sat saved see shade shadows ship slake sleep smite so song steal stone stream strewn Squire that their thick thirst thy to upon vigil water(s) ween wide wind when whence who Wiltshire worms wreck

Feeling dauntedIt is possible.  In true ‘Blue Peter’ style, here’s one I made earlier:

Lord Balliol’s Song

At eventide shadows slake the mound

Whence Balliol’s castle steals its ground.

Ivy creepeth o’er the land

Like autumn leaves strewn by hand.

You may have noticed that I’ve added a few words.  That’s allowed.  As is a change of tense for the verbs.  Have a go and see what you come up with!