Just playing around

Play is wonderful; I recall teaching students at a school in Surrey England a poetry game I essentially made up on the fly. I called it Mood Poetry and we had so much fun with it I added it to an English text chapter I wrote for Jacaranda back in 2009.

Mood poetry essentially involves taking time to focus on a small and select part of the world: working through focusing just one sense at a time on that small part of the world. Playing word association games via that one sense with what you see, hear, touch… imagining tastes. Expanding that world too, but slowly, playfully. Experimenting with lineation too, when it came to drafting.

Here is an example of a mood poem written by a student in Year 7.

I sat by myself and just looked at the playground.

Closed my eyes. Imagined… dinosaur bones & gigantic spider webs

and, when I remembered shrieking year 4s

filling it, it was a monkey’s fun zone.

I liked it down here

but I didn’t want to play just then.

I was enjoying doing nothing.

Behind the playground

a stern-faced wall hid the garden.

I wondered if I wanted to be

in the garden…

Down the path is the tennis court.

It needs repair with its lunar pocked surface.

The sun feels lovely and warm.

If I close my eyes

jets are humming overhead

and traffic murmurs on London Road. Lovely.

And then a mower starts up

like some nagging mother.

It makes me want to get up and go.

No.

I’ll stay to smell piney air that reminds me of Sweden,

the mulch in the playground is new and resinous.

It’s meant to be a soft blanket if our bodies fall

but it feels sharp and scratchy to me.

If I could eat this playground it would taste of

crunchy desiccated coconut.

Johanna Keen

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