This week I took Alice Oswald’s book Weeds and Wild Flowers in to St Gregory’s Catholic College, Bath, where I’m working as Writer in Residence.
I was prompted to do this by Sarah Westcott’s gorgeous poem about snowdrops Fair Maids of February which was a winner in this year’s Cafe Writers Competition judged by Liz Berry. Sarah has written a blog about her poem here and you can read Fair Maids of February, and all of the winning poems, here. I love the way Sarah Westcott has used a folklore name for the winter flower – she also calls them “little milk flowers” in the poem, another name the flower is known by – and how she imagines them as ‘girls’ or ‘maids’.
So many of you this morning!
White headscarves drawn tight
Alice Oswald also likens the flowers to girls in her poem Snowdrop
A pale and pining girl, head bowed, heart gnawed,
whose figure nods and shivers in a shawl
of fine white wool, has suddenly appeared
in the damp woods, as mild and mute as snowfall.
These poems really captured the imaginations of the young writers I worked with this week, and it is the perfect time of year to try to write about snowdrops as they are flowering everywhere in gardens and parks.
Sarah Westcott has a collection Slant Light with Pavilion Poetry which I enjoyed very much. There are more poems here which will be popular in school, I think.
Students also loved Alice Oswald’s poem Daisy, and many others in this beautiful book. The etchings by Jessica Greenman are wonderful.
I will not meet that quiet child
roughly my age but match-size
I will not kneel low enough to her lashes
to look her in her open eye
One student commented, after reading these poems about flowers, that she thought the poets had really noticed the flowers and taken their time looking. I thought this was an insightful observation by a young writer, and was something of a lightbulb moment for her, to have been given permission to stop and stare, and not rush about.
Here’s hoping that we all manage some time to stop and notice this week. Do, please, leave your recommendations for more flower poems.
4 thoughts on “Writing poems about flowers #writerinschool”
I’m intrigued by how the writer in residence programme works. ( I’m Director Of Education in one of the London Boroughs). Is there anywhere I can get info on how it’s structured and funded?
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Hello Col, I would like to write about how this residency is funded as I think every school should have a writer/artist/musician in residence. It’s a creative arrangement between an imaginative Head Teacher and an enthusiastic local writer. I’ll email you to explain. Best wishes, Josephine
On thinking about observation, I love Muriel Stuart’s poem ‘The Seed-Shop’ – especially the last line! One step back from flowers! I really enjoy your posts, thank you.
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Thank you, Ann! I will look for this poem to share. 💐