St George’s Preparatory Holds Poetry Workshop

June 29, 2021

[Written by Vejay Steede]

The 2020-2021 school year has been turbulent to say the least. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the Bermuda Public School System schedule this year, and remote learning is still a decidedly inexact science for BPSS staff and students at this stage.

Things are improving though, and with improvement – with evolution – comes poetry. It has, of course, been said that poetry is the highest form of expression; a form that, in modern times, has evolved into a lawless realm of words, similes, metaphors, alliteration, repetition, onomatopoeia, Hip-Hop, and various other words that take traditional grammar values and turn them on their heads.

Poetry says what it wants to say without the pompous pretention of inelegant punctuation. It is a form I fell in love with many moons ago, and a form that the Primary 5 class at the St. George’s Preparatory School [SGPS] has been getting cozy with during the closing days of this monumentally surreal school year.

Classroom Teacher Ms. Florence Brown describes the students’ journey: “With the end of year approaching quickly, and everything that is involved with that, I was fairly nervous about trying to fit in an entire genre study. My class has since put any concern to rest, and has exceeded my expectations of what could be accomplished in such a short time.

“We started by looking through a collection of poems and adding ones that they enjoyed or thought were clever to their personal anthologies, word for word, with the exact same spacing and punctuation.

“This was so they could start to pick up on some of the ways poems are structured in a different way to other genres we’ve studied. We spent time listening to music and decorating these poems and continued reading more and more.

“After this, we thought about how we could analyse a poem according to its structure, figurative language, theme, rhyme and language usage, such as repetition, alliteration etc. They took any new poems they enjoyed and analysed it in their anthology.

“Finally they were close to writing their own. A few had already taken inspiration and started in their own time, adding bits and pieces to their anthology. We had been studying endemic species and the effect of population growth in Social Studies. On a whim, I decided to see if they could find a poem they already knew well, as a guide for inspiration and write their own poem about our endemic cahows. This was where it all began.

“With very little help needed from me anymore, they were off and writing some amazing poems; all extremely different, varying in tone, some funny, some serious but just brilliant to see.

“Now when it’s time for ‘Poetry Workshop’ I turn on the music, turn down the lights, and off they go. We have poetry readings at the end, where we make a circle and anyone who’s ready can share, they even snap when they enjoy something.

“They have since come up with their own personal lists of ideas they’d like to write poems about and are adding to their anthology, reading out new poems and making adjustments to old ones each day. It has been a wonderful way to wrap up the school year.”

Poetry is also a way of chronicling events, emotions, traumas, and historical sentiment, which makes studying the form a perfect way to wrap up a school year that will not soon be forgotten by school students and staff across the globe.

SGPS School Principal Mrs. Gail Smith said: “I am so proud of these budding poets! they have learned much about how poetry works, have responded to poetry and have developed the ‘feel’ for it. The end result is children writing from their hearts. Well done to their teacher, Ms. Brown who has given them the freedom to express themselves.”

The poems produced by the decade old [give or take] poets range from jubilant to facetious, to defiant and hopeful to philosophical and starry eyed.

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