03 October 2020
Posted by Tabby Hayward
11-14 group - 13 attending
15-18 group - 7 attending
Continuing with our work on the One Thousand and One Nights stories, this week we were writing poetry about storytellers and, particularly, Scheherazade - the storyteller from the frame story of the One Thousand and One Nights tales.
To begin with, the young writers were asked to consider two questions:
are stories made of? (e.g. music, silk thread, clouds, woven fabric, paint, stones, fossils, wood, air, fire?)
Stories are treasures to keep,
Stories are there to be told,
Stories are made from ideas,
Stories in books can be sold.
They’re yours to keep,
Or yours to share,
You’re reading a book,
You can read the story,
But you’re not the original
Storyteller who wrote this book,
One very talented individual.
A story is a way to escape,
For if you can’t cope,
A story if told right,
Will give you a sense of hope.
A story is as old as when,
When in time it was written,
But goes forgotten when,
When it is hidden.
Stories are written by some,
Plays are seen by many,
So can you make stories more popular,
I’m going to need more than that penny.
In the older group, we looked at a couple of different poems about the work of writing and storytelling - 'The God' by Ted Hughes and 'The Work' by Martha Sprackland, exploring the very different metaphors and imagery and perspectives they used. The group then all started work on their own storyteller poems. Here is Thomas' mystical and imaginative poem:
A Pact of Existentialism
An idea is like an ocean;
You’re sitting in the middle of a storm,
Squinting and peering,
Watching the roaring waves.
And you collect your gear, put on a helmet,
The water is colourless, not blue,
And the sky seems red with heat.
But beneath the fish
And the sharks
And the squid,
There are sunken shipwrecks of lost emotion.
A story is like a chest;
You wander into the catacombs of a medieval castle,
Watching the flickering torches,
And you grab the key the king gave you,
The contents is varied, jumbled,
And the value of it is low.
But beneath the coppers
There are piled parchments depicting lost emotion.
The words are like a demon;
You lie in wait for its eventual arrival,
Staring and sweating,
Until it’s behind you.
And you bind your soul to the dagger before you,
Your blood is tasted, accepted,
And you feel hollow and dull.
Before the power fills you
There is absconded artistry in your lungs.
But you think that you know;
You know this cannot be true, why steal
Words that already belonged to you?
You know this cannot be true, why conceal
Words that never belonged to you?
Where did you think your ideas came from?
The bottom of the sea.
Where they once belonged to some unfortunate soul.
Where did you think your stories came from?
A chest in a castle.
Where they were once the prize of some unfortunate soul.
Where did you think your words came from?
Did you really think it would give you your own?
It stole yours years ago, for you to steal back.
After sharing a brilliantly diverse range of poems in both groups, we moved on to looking at the character of Scheherazade more specifically - recapping her story, which we had explored last week, the young writers were asked to consider these questions and prompts, to start imagining what it would have been like to be in her position:
What images come to mind when you think of Scheherazade?
(nights, darkness, moon and stars, a king, a palace, a wedding, death, executioners, her voice, her pauses/cliffhangers)
What did she look like?
What did she sound like/what was her voice like?
What was she thinking? (about the King, about what would happen to her, about the stories?)
Was she afraid?
Did she have a plan?
How did she stay calm?
What could she see in her mind?
How did she come up with her stories?
The older group also looked at two example poems, both entitled 'Scheherazade' - one by Lucy Wainger, and one by Cia Mangat (who had won a challenge on the Young Poets Network with her poem in 2017 - inspiration for our young writers!)
The young writers then had an option to either:
Write a poem about Scheherazade (third person – she/her)
OR from Scheherazade’s point of view (first person – I/my/me)
OR addressed to Scheherazade (second person – you/your)