Poetry by members of Year 6 at AIS

I spent an hour with each of the seven Year 6 classes at the Australian International School back in September 2023 as part of their unit on poetry. Using photographs mainly culled from Pixabay as triggers, I was able to build on the excellent work done their teachers. The students froowarded their work to me online and I was able to comment and offer suggestions – mostly encouraging more precise or powerful choices of verbs (do crabs ‘walk’?) and adjectives (replace nice, awesome) and urging the deletion of redundant words (such as ‘just’ and ‘pretty’ as qualifiers!) Occasionally there’d be a cliché I’d ask them to rephrase, or to find an alternative word to avoid a lazy repetition. Some pruning of padding, or re-arranging of verses for clarity of thought, was also recommended. I was so impressed by the quality of much of their writing that I created an anthology, Sunlight refracting in a graceful arc, a line from a poem by Isig Chon, which was inspired by this picture:

THREE BOYS AND THEIR LAKE – Oliver Gutkin

The lake is their dance floor where they dance all day.
The lake is their bath where they wash themselves every night.
The lake is their playground where they joyfully jump around.
The lake gives them water they drink every day
The lake is their battle arena where they splash splash splash each other
The lake is more needed for survival as food.
The lake is more than a lake:
It is where they remember all they need is each other.

THE EASY ONE – Phoebe-Jane Keogh

They’re splashing water on me again
They always do
Although I tell them to stop,
They don’t.
I guess I’m the young one,
The easy one.

The sound of the water escaping
from mother’s old bamboo bowl,
SPLISH! SPLASH!
I love it.
Although,
The whining of Charles spoils the mood,
He’s the young one,
The easy one.

I know I shouldn’t do it.
I know he hates it,
The splashing sound
probably haunts him at night,
I know it haunts me.

But I can’t let the same thing happen to me,
Not again.
I mean, he’s the young one,
The easy one.

MAN / BIRD – Scarlett Young

The bird’s beak, sharp as a needle,
It pierced through the man’s glasses like they were water,
Shards lay on the floor, ready to pierce flesh

The man stares in awe at the wonderful creature,
Perched on a Bonsai,
bathing in the faint sunlit glow of the sky above
It gives a soft chirp,
like blue bells swaying in the wind
It gracefully hops across the bonsai
like a gypsy dancing to a playful tune

The man gives a weak chuckle,
It seems to him unnatural,
Happiness for him is a faint doorway he will never quite be able to reach,
Yet sometimes he seems so close, almost able to see what’s past it –

almost.
All of a sudden, with a fast swoosh,
the bird flies off through an open window
Soaring into the sky, it is reduced to a tiny speck
swallowed by the sunset.

The man is alone once more.

THE STORY OF MAN by Chloe Wokes

If you’re a man you must be happy
If you’re a man you must be strong
If you’re a man you must be enough
If you’re a man you must be polite
If you’re a man you must be right
If you’re a man you must be respectful
If you’re a man you must be honest
If you’re a man you must be the best
If you’re a man you must be healthy

If you’re a women you are enough

I wish more schools would give their students the chance to express themselves through writing poetry! (And not a single rhyming couplet!)

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