Lifting Poetry Off The Page

Communication is at the core of everything we do and are. Without communication, even information is worthless.

Poetry is a wonderful vehicle for communication; it’s  broad in it’s scope, can be heart warming, uplifting, moving, a way for us to express ourselves and fun ! I wanted to use poetry as a means of communication, expression and enjoyment for disabled children and young people and to provide them with opportunities to explore and experience their own and other’s ‘different voices’ .

Poetry is something we can create for ourselves or enjoy listening to when written by others. Poetry doesn’t have to use just words but sounds and noises, Splashing of water in a bowl; sound of an ocean drum; bicycle horn – the possibilities are endless.

In ‘Lifting Poetry Off The Page!’ I use a multi-media approach – fabrics, costumes, music, sound, lighting, augmentative communication,  the senses – to make poems live, to give them life. Central to everything is that the Workshops must be accessible to all and be an experience which all participants can enjoy, contribute to and celebrate !

As well as the poem itself I use musical instruments and sounds to explore the theme. As a ‘Lifemusic’ Practitioner for three years  the precepts of the ‘Lifemusic’ approach are that we are all musicians; there are no wrong notes; every sound has a meaning. The music leads us and it’s always amazing how the shape and kaleidoscope of sounds take on their own form – in ‘Lifemusic’ terms ‘the holding form’. Music can communicate anything !

St. Anthony’s School in Chichester was the first School I introduced to my ‘Lifting Poetry off The Page!’ I worked with 3  classes and the  poem  chosen  by the first class was ‘James Bond car’, very topical with the recent screening of ‘Skyfall’ and a dramatic subject for teenagers.

It’s a great poem because there’s repetition and rhythm which build up until the climax in the last verse.


The first verse says        “So this you say was James Bond’s car

Did you get it from a dealer?

I love the feel of the steering wheel.

Don’t touch that lever !”

There are four verses and the last one ends:

Don’t touch that AAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!”

From the start the young people were full of imaginative ideas on how to bring the poem to life. Together we came up with the story around the poem. Using a C.D. of the James Bond theme we all became James Bond, moving warily around the classroom. The scene then changed to a Disco and the grand prize was – James Bond’s Car !

As the disco got underway everyone danced ‘like there was no tomorrow’ having created their own characters from the costumes I’d taken along.

Then the announcement , “And the winner of the James Bond Car is   Hannah!”  Then straight into the poem itself.

In the *four Schools I worked in  I used ‘James Bond’s Car’; adapted one I called ‘Hercules the Handsome’; Pow ! erful Sound Effects’; Dinosaur Party’; and one I wrote myself ‘Go For Beaufort!’ because the class was working on that as a topic. The children also adapted and wrote their own poems using the initial work as a starting point.

Poetry can be very flexible and have a life of it’s own.  It doesn’t have to be in rhyming couplets; doesn’t have to be made up of several verses. Poetry in it’s broadest sense can provide all of us with a means of capturing something ‘in a nutshell’ or take us to other worlds and places in time.

Two quotes about poetry which I like very much. “Many poems use words to paint a picture in your head” and “ If normal sentences are orange squash, poetry is the syrup before it’s diluted”.

I believe poetry lends itself to being enjoyed by children and families at home too; poems already written and those made up along the way. Here are one or two ideas as starting points.

Making up poems on your own or together.

It was a Monday afternoon and I was sitting  looking out on the garden making up a poem.

 ‘My Noisy Monday !’


Drip, drip, drip of the tap.

Whirr, whirr, whirr of the refrigerator.

SsssSSSsshhhHHHhhh of the wind blowing trees.

Creak, creak of a door.

Coo, coo, coo; coo,coo, coo pigeons in the branches.

Click, click, click click click click clack of my fingers on the keys.


Yes it’s my……………………………………………………………………….. NOISY MONDAY !


The world of the senses is rich with possible ideas for a poem which can be written in the moment.

Fill a box with an assortment of noisy objects: whistle; box of biscuits; two pieces of wood; tin can and dried peas; brown wrapping paper etc. etc. Think about the sounds they make and note the words. Maybe think about who the sound belongs to; the whistle might belong to a referee or a teacher. The tin can and dried peas might be footsteps. The poem might simply be a record of the sounds themselves or become a story of something which has happened.

You can record the poem in some way; write it down or make a sound recording which can be kept as memories of something done through the year.

So why not give Chris. a call to see if this Workshop offers something different to YOUR School !

(The schools I provided my Poetry Workshops to were:

St Anthony’s School Chichester; Queen Elizabeth 11 Silver Jubilee  School Horsham ;

LVS School Hassocks (visit the ‘Lifting Poetry Off the Page’ webpage on  to see some of students’ poetry is fun work at LVS) West Park First & Middle School Worthing.


Just 2 of the comments from the children and young people

“It made my imagination explode it was amazing!” “I had a great time your activities were SOOO FUN !”

So have fun, let your imaginations explode and ‘Lift Your Poems off the Page!”

View the ‘Lifemusic’ website on:

I can highly recommend two books of poems:

“Read Me Out Loud!” A poem to rap, chant, whisper or shout” chosen by Nick Toczek and Paul Cookson ISBN 978-0-330-44621-1

“The Works” Every kind of poem you will need in School by Paul Cookson ISBN 978-0-330-48104-5

The photographs were created from fabrics and materials at one of the schools to illustrate poems about dragons and dinosaurs

Lifting Poetry Off The Page