I attended the Literature Live! festival at the NCPA last weekend and their line up included a poet named Martin Kiszko. From the program schedule, it seemed like he was going to be doing stuff for the little ones so I have to confess that I hadn’t marked him out on my things to attend list. Around midday he conducted a performance of his poetry which I missed because I was attending a concurrent workshop by Israeli writer, Shifra Horn. But, a friend attended the performance and convinced me to go along with him for Kiszko’s poetry writing workshop later that evening, poo power he exclaimed to me. Poo power? Puzzled as I was, I’m so glad I attended the workshop because Kiszko was fantabulous.
Since the theme of the workshop was green poems for a blue planet, the poems were meant to be about the environment. Interestingly, he often writes his poems on an appropriate piece of junk like an old bottle or a plastic bag so it really becomes an artwork. Kiszko taught us three poetic forms for crafting green poems including one called the double dactyl.
The activities reminded me of exercises from Creative Poetry Writing by Jane Spiro (OUP). I think fun poetic forms are a great way to encourage creativity in the language classroom, get Ss to create sensory links with words, practice intonation and stress as they read it out and really make it a kinaesthetic exercise by getting them to write their poems on random things so you have some installation/found art to mount on your walls.
Kiszko has a nifty book of his work, also called Green Poems for a Blue Planet which I duly bought (with stuff like Ode to Broccoli and Poo Power, how could you not?). You can check out a sample of the poems at this site. And here’s Kiszko performing one of his most popular works – Takeaway Carbon in which he describes different forms of green transport. My favourite line is “Take a butt fired superfart”.