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These two astonishingly polished pieces were written in about 20 minutes by two students whose stimulus was a set of random ingredients provided by their friends.
The friends were told :
• Choose a number between 6 and 20 (eg 15)
• Choose a number between 1 and 100 (eg 30)
• Choose a colour, a mood,
a kind of weather, a place , an animal
and a word you don’t use very often.
The writers were told :
The first number is the number of lines your poem should have.
All the other choices have to be in your poem.
Amy and Hyun Hua were given different ingredients and it is measure of their skill that they not only seamlessly integrate them into the poem – nothing leaps out at you to say ‘this doesn’t belong’ - but they also give the poems purpose and shape. This is not everyday English lesson writing!
Interestingly both girls repeat the number (coincidentally 88 and 89!) though for very different reasons and effect.
Could you do as well? Here are your ingredients:
Clara is giving me a hard time.
She is in the garden, planting thyme.
I have been hollering at her for the past three hours
Yet she is relaxedly gardening, smelling the flowers.
I have sent my puppy out
to chase her into the house.
Nothing has worked, neither monkey nor mouse.
I created some drizzle,
spraying her with my blue hose.
Although she’s soaked,
she has not ceased admiring her rose!
88 times I have called her by name
88 times she ignored me the same.
I perambulated into the garden
And dragged her out by the arm.
– Amy Lin, 6.6
For 89 summer days
Children will sing and dance in the summer grass
The birds will wake up and spread their wings
Bursts of laughter will fill the parks
Vibrant flowers will bloom
Sunlight shine through the foliage of trees.
For 89 winter days
Mothers will keep children to their chests
to avoid the biting cold
Stray dogs whimper and slink into cardboard boxes
The homeless rub their hands
Babies tears freeze on their cheeks
But they are suddenly interrupted
by spring awakening.
– Song Hyun Hua, 6.6