sessions

The Curious Cats Sessions

curious-cat

Do you need to analyse poems?

Yes.

Well, learn this sentence:

“All curious cats think mice smell lovely, don’t you think?”

Why?

Because, if you do, you will be one step closer to remembering all the stuff your teacher asks you to write about when it comes to a poem.

How come?

It’s a mnemonic.

Oh, OK ..

A ll – A uthor

C urious – C ontext

C ats – C ontent

Th ink – Th eme

M ice – M ood

S mell – S tructure

L ovely – L anguage

Don’t you think? – Reader response

Cool!

So, when you’re analysing a poem, you can do it by working out the answers to questions like these:

All – Author

Who wrote the poem? When did the poet live? Where? What was his or her childhood like? What did they do apart from write? Did they write other stuff?

Curious – Context

When was the poem written? What was happening in that place at that time? What is the poet’s perspective on these places and events, and the characters involved? What was the general public’s perspective on these things at the time? Have these views changed since the poem was written?

Cats – Content

What is the poem actually about? Does it describe something? Does it tell a story? What places or characters are mentioned? What do we know about them? Is there a literal and also a metaphorical or allegorical meaning to the poem?

Think – Theme

If you can answer the last question in the Cats section, you will already be thinking about the themes that are dealt with in the poem. Does the poem have an overall subject or topic? What is it? Does it have more than one? Does the poem have a message for the reader? What does the poet want the reader to think? What does the poet want the reader to feel?

Mice – Mood

And if you can answer that, you are ready to start thinking about what it actually is that the poet actually does to convey all of the above to the reader.

Is the poem dark or light? What situations, places, characters, phrases or words make it that way? Does it make you laugh, cry, think, cringe? Why? Is this how the poet wanted you to feel?

What other things has the poet done to influence the way the reader feels?

Smell – Structure

Is it long? Does it have stanzas? How many? Are they all the same length? Are the lines all the same length or are they different? Is there a pattern to the stanzas or the lines?

Does it rhyme? is there a particular rhyme scheme? What is it?

Is the poem a sonnet, or a ballad, or even something as weird and obscure as a villanelle (not likely, but ..)? How do you know? Why did the writer choose this type of poem? Was it a popular or common type of poem at the time? Is it popular now?

Has the writer made the poem this way for any particular reason? Does the structure of the poem do anything to enhance the message or the themes of the poem?

Lovely – Language

What emotive words has the poet used? Are they adjectives? Are they adverbs? Does the poet use alliteration, repetition, personification, enjambment or any other fancy poetic devices to help us understand the poem’s message and feel the poem’s feelings?

Don’t you think? – Reader response

Do you like it? Why? Why not? Who would like it? Why? Who definitely wouldn’t like it? Why not? Are particular types of people more likely to like it than others? Did more people like it when it was written than now? Why? Why not? Will people like it in the future? Why? Why not?

2-curious-cats

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Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project

suitcases keatsThe Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project at The Safe House bridges age gaps to facilitate personal, collaborative and shared learning of skills. The project is based on discrete 1:1 and small group sessions through which young people and older people teach, learn and exchange skills as diverse as:

  • welding and metalwork
  • carpentry
  • sewing and needlework
  • mobile technology, IT and social media skills
  • languages and literacy skills
  • science, maths and numeracy skills
  • cooking and baking
  • online shopping
  • government and the electoral system.

At The Safe House, we coordinate, develop and facilitate teaching and learning sessions across the age ranges for mutual understanding and shared learning.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting the Intergenerational Skill Exchange Project, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

 

The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions

gecko

The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions are for anybody to read and / or do. They can be done independently online or in structured group sessions delivered by The Safe House.

The sessions encourage structure and creativity in writing through presenting a stimulus and a guide on how to approach each specific writing task. Participants are encouraged to use each session to produce a short piece of creative writing.

For more information on the Flash Fiction Writing Sessions at The Safe House go here.


italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own Flash Fiction Writing sessions with us, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

The Cardboard Library

girl moon umbrella butterflies adana1The Cardboard Library sessions are creative writing development sessions.

Participants are led through a series of stimulating journeys, both real and virtual, which form the catalyst for poetry, flash fiction and short story writing. The products from these sessions are collated and presented by The Safe House as The Cardboard Library, a hand-made occasional ‘magazine’ showcasing new creative writing talent.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

Left Luggage

The Left Luggage project is based around a series of walkshop events comprising:

  • poetry reading.
  • local sights and landmarks.
  • walking, talking, discovery and writing.cat on the luggage

The Left Luggage sessions involve walks in the outdoors, poetry readings and discussion. They focus on understanding, analysis, comparison and appreciation of poetry as well as offering an opportunity to read and hear poetry in the fresh air.

These sessions could be particularly useful for anybody who is working towards GCSE or A Level English Literature qualifications.

Of course, practice in understanding poetry for national qualifications is not the only benefit of the Left Luggage sessions  and we are sure that they will inspire participants to seek out more poetry and maybe even write some too!

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions either as an  attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own sessions as part of the Left Luggage series, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

The LSD Sessions

bandstandThe Learning and Skills Drop-in (LSD) Sessions focus on the development of language, literacy and learning skills and strategies, whether for achievement in national and international qualifications, to enhance potential for employment or university application, or for personal development and change.

The sessions take place in 1:1, pairs or small groups and form short, medium and longer term personal language, literacy and learning skills programmes.

Some of the sessions available through LSD (Learning and Skills Drop-In) with The Safe House are:

The Bookcase Sessions – How to choose a book that’s right for you.
The Aikido Flex Sessions – Introduction to a writing process.
The Elephant Sessions – Ways of taking notes and revising stuff.
The Duck-Rabbit Sessions – Intensive proofreading for accuracy and meaning.
The Order from Chaos Sessions – Strategies for planning learning and beating deadlines.
The Twelve Bar Blues Sessions – Learning to learn through music.
The Murakami Sessions – Ways of studying and enjoying literature.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions and programmes either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own LSD sessions with us, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House

“We can take you to a better place.”

Time is a Trick of the Mind

imageJack Kerouac’s list of stuff to do .. jUst cLicK tHe iMage.

kerouac list

Task

Choose five of Jack Kerouac’s ‘new years Resolutions’ and use sequencers to create a narrative paragraph.

Creativity with regard to time frame and order of events is the way to engage your reader, for sure!

clock green

jUst cLicK tHe ClocK

Jeff the Iguana

By Lewis Dunmore

I came home from holiday in Tenerife and finally fell on my bed out of exhaustion.

Eventually, I opened my suitcase, grabbed my phone and without warning saw my bag fall over.I went to grab it when suddenly a scaly head popped out. It was a large pale green lizard which swiftly made a run for it under my bed. I grabbed a torch, checked my bed and saw a lizard sitting there.

To my astonishment, I identified it to be an iguana and looked at it in wonder. It had bright red spines on its back that looked liked knives or the back of a small stegosaurus. After that, I slowly pushed the door shut, grabbed a washing basket from the corner of my room and I held it above the lizard. I was thinking of how to get it out when I heard my dogs barking. Then, all of a sudden, the iguana bolted out from the bed and into the open. I slammed the basket onto the floor and trapped it. It froze on the spot! I shouted for my mum and dad and explained how the lizard had somehow got into my bag.

Then, the next day, me and my dad went to the shops and bought a lizard tank and we have kept Jeff ever since.

I think he’s happy.

Writing Backstory

Lewis wrote this story using a fairly straightforward writing method which involved reading a text for stimulus, conversation about and consideration of the scenario, guided written note-taking and planning, drafting, proof reading, editing and redrafting. 

The process was fairly intensive and Lewis got tired at the end of the last session. At the time, he was happy to leave it as it is. I think he could probably go back and edit his story a bit more, if he felt like it.

He could maybe look at avoiding repetition of some words; ‘suddenly’ stands out as one word that could do with a synonym of some kind!

He could also look at sequencing words and phrases to give a bit more emphasis on specific events and to engage the reader with the whole story.

What do you think?

Irreclaimable Vagabonds

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

Roger_Fry_-_Virginia_WoolfIt is words that are to blame.
They are the wildest, freest,
most irresponsible, most unteachable
of all things. They live in the mind,
variously and strangely.
They hate being useful;
They hate making money.
They hang together,
in sentences, in paragraphs,
sometimes for whole pages at a time.
When they are pinned down
they fold their wings and die.
Our unconsciousness is their privacy;
Our darkness is their light. (from – Virginia Woolf’s ‘On Craftsmanship)

Activity

Take a set of words and ‘hang’ them together in sentences, a paragraph or even a page.

Stimulus

dump        heart          kids              happiest      Chicago      bone       defence     sombrero    cloud    dead       taught      rebel      pleasuresbooks for words

Guide

If you look at the extract above, taken from Virginia Woolf’s 1937 lecture on the craft of writing, you will see that she has some interesting things to say about words.

In her lecture, Woolf uses a number of human qualities to point out the difficulties that arise when we try to make words do what we want.

In this session, you are invited to take words that have not been pinned down into sentences and bring them alive using your creativity and imagination. The session is about creating a piece of writing that has meaning for you, the writer, and which could have meaning for a reader too.

Word count and process

wordThere are thirteen words to begin with. You could use less or more, of course.

The words we have used come from the titles of thirteen books we have been reading or dipping into at The Safe House recently.

You could use these words, or you could look at your bookshelves and find your own.

Take the words in the order you find them, or jumble them about. When you have a set sequence, put them into sentences in the order you have chosen.

lowYour sentences do not necessarily have to have logical meaning, of course, but it would be good if you could use the words as accurately as possible with regard to grammar and sentence structure. That way the reader will probably be able to get to grips with your sentences and your paragraphs more easily.

Take a moment. Read what you have written. Have another go.

Try it a few times with a different idea or theme in your head. Maybe take a title of one of the books and use that as a theme to create your piece around.

Later, spend some time re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising, re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising again and again for as long as you can. That way you can be as sure as possible that you have produced a piece you are happy with.

Concentrate on grammatical accuracy, but don’t worry too much about the actual meaning of the piece you are writing.

Let the reader worry about that!

italian-dog-logo2.jpegWhat next?

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

 

 

 

‘Smash yr face into my textbook’

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

clock

Many of us are constantly embroiled in creating stuff for other people to judge us by. This is part of our contract with the world of measuring, judging and accrediting worthiness. We engage in it, even though it messes with our mind and eats at our soul. Is there another way?

Activity

Take a break from your studies.

Read Dominic Nolan’s poem (below) and create your own piece of writing to describe and define your own take on the pressures of the ‘hand-in’ deadline.

Stimulus

It’s not an essay deadline until somebody’s in tears

Smash yr face into my textbook – 4th edition.
a lot of extra material added.
i am hitting the bong and it is my homemade bong and i am 22,
now i am 23
let’s take these bread-knives and cut each other up.
you hold my legs down first and saw them both off
then i’ll take ur feet too, take my left arm and chop
and I’ll do you the same until we both all right
lock eyes and saw slowly off our dominant hands until
plop — plop —
we just stumps with a head, smash them up and scoop out
20 grand, put it thru your processor
double-spaced, font size 12, stapled,
on my desk by Monday​

(Dominic Nolan)

Guide

its not an essay deadlineDominic Nolan’s piece depicts a violence which might seem to the outsider to be the dead opposite of academic life.

However, the result of the research, the planning, the drafting and the writing of an academic piece that is to be assessed and then given a grade will affect the rest of your life.

It is tough, and the potential for violence in this context is evident in the distressing and insanely destructive exchange between student and tutor, assessed and assessor, described in the poem. With its text-speak spelling and belligerent refusal to entertain capital letters, the poem describes a possible result of the interaction and the mayhem and madness that the pressure to ‘achieve’ can cause.

Word count and process

Dominic Nolan’s poem is 121 words long. You could aim for something similar in length.

Think about your own deadlines. Are they achievable? How do they make you feel? How are you doing right now with regard to achieving them? How are you handling the pressure? Are you in contact with others who are under similar stress? Are they dealing with it as well as you are? What else could you be doing with your time? How will it feel when it’s all over?

Write notes on your feelings in response to these questions.

windowsMaybe just note single words, or brief notes on a scene that is part of how you feel. Describe the room you are in with a single word. Describe the objects in front of you in single words. Describe your emotions in the same way.

Take a moment. Read your notes. Think of the words you have used. Are there other words you could use to say what you want? Change words, add words. Jumble the words up into different orders. Experiment with the language you are using and the context you are describing.

Move away from the spelling, punctuation and grammar requirements of your academic studies and think about creating a piece using the type of language and spelling you would use with more spontaneous forms of communication. Be imaginative with your situation.

The length of the thinking and note-taking process will vary, of course, depending on how easily ideas come into your head. Aim to do this quickly, though.

Remember, you have more important stuff to do and a deadline to meet!

You should try and produce a first draft finished piece of around 120 words in about 15 minutes.

Later, spend some time re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising, re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising again and again for as long as you can. That way you can be as sure as possible that you have produced a piece you are happy with

italian-dog-logo4.jpegWhat next?

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

This IS The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

Thanks to Dominic Nolan for allowing us to use his writing in this post … ; )