Monday, 5 February 2018

Poet James Nash at Shire Oak Primary School

Sally Bavage writes:

Tall Oaks from Little Acorns Grow?

True Grit on the path into the well-prepared school as temperatures mid-afternoon were plummeting.  True grit, too, in the assembly hall as year 3 gear themselves up for performing their own creative writing in front of peers, parents and half a dozen school staff.

This term's theme, Plants and Trees, gave  starring roles to a wide variety of trees – silver birch, oak, weeping willow, beech, fruit trees, even palms.  And starring roles, too, to some of the 7-year-olds who are clearly destined for careers as headteachers, MPs or actors.  

Declaiming a line, a favourite bit or the whole poem, they stepped up one after another with the aplomb of those born into limelight.  The creative writing seeds planted and nurtured by head gardener James Nash, our local poet and writer, working with year 3 and their teacher Ian Martin, once again bore fruit.  OK, enough of the natural history.

In winter I'm lonely because there are no apples on my branches.

I miss my leaves, I'm lonely.  Leaves keep you warm.

On a sunny day people shelter in my shade and eat sandwiches.

I can see the baby birds trying to fly.

I can smell the lavender.

On a stormy day I can feel my acorns fall.

As class teacher Mr Martin summed up, “James has brought us such joy in the classroom. One youngster said 'This is fun!' at the first workshop. But a lot of hard work and insight into the process of writing and the hard work of a writer.  Working with James again has been inspiring, helping us all to understand the creative writing process; we have some absolute gems here.”   And the cry of 'Poetry', rather than 'Cheese', resounded round the hall as he took the 'team photo.'

The youngsters themselves commented, amongst many other pieces of feedback:

Best thing about the project: pride in writing

Why it is good to share your work with others: parents will be proud of me; you get to know when you've done a good job

What you will remember:  poetry writing is great!

Remember, these young people are only seven or eight years old!  Where will this knowledge of their own writing and performance skills take them?

The parents also had some highly supportive comments to give us:

Great.  My 8-year-old enjoyed te work and improved is confidence. He's also been singing his own song verses following more creative work in school.

What a good event!  It's great to bring arts specialists into school – we need more of it!

Good performance.  Very confident loud voices.

This is an amazing way of engaging pupils in writing poetry.  All abilities are included in the activity and pupils all enjoy writing their poems and sharing them.

Lovely and amazing to hear the poems and the proces of working with James Nash has been inspiring for my son.

EMOTIONAL!  Brilliant work for ALL the children.  What a wonderful opportunity to work with James Nash.  Thank you!

Wonderful opportunity for the children to work with James Nash.  They seem to have really enjoyed it.

Enjoyed hearing all the things the children liked and learnt about the trees and the understanding of writing about them.

The children did really well.  It was lovely to hear all their poems.


Great to see the kids performing their own work.  They seemed to have enjoyed themselves.


Amazing poetry – really well read by everyone!  Obviously a great inspiration to all the kids.
Very good.

Fantastic poems and performances from year 3.  Lovely to see how hard they've worked on poetry

The children were really good at reading their poems.

Year 3 were really confident and brilliant.

Wonderful event.  Very well organised!

Fantastic!  Great to see all the children so inspired.

It was a pleasure to hear each child contribute what they wrote.  James Nash was very popular with my grandsons.  What a delightful way for them to learn about poetry.

Lovely event, a joy to watch and hear all their poems.

Really good to see children enjoying poetry and engaged in their writing.

Inspiring!  So great for the children to be introduced to poetry at a young age.

More lines from the children’s poems

In winter I dream of keeping my leaves
and being the shape of a Christmas tree.

I see an owl on a stormy day

On a sunny day I want people to climb into me

I miss my leaves

I dream of soaring through the sky like the birds

In spring I look camouflaged
my green leaves hide me.

People don’t dare climb me
they fear falling in the fast flowing river.

It’s cold, I can’t breathe, ice on my branches.

I need a friend to play with.

Headingley LitFest is very grateful, once again, to have the support of the Inner North West area management committee for supporting poetry workshops like this.

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