We share how poetry builds life and literacy skills, modelling techniques, samples of student poetry and our number 1 poetry engagement tip.
What is perhaps less known is she wrote and published this poem at the age of 19.
It is unlikely there is a better-known line in Australian poetry than “I love a sunburnt country.”
The poem, My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar is inspired by her time on family properties and life in Gunnedah and the Hunter Valley.
The Australian landscape is so diverse and unique, it is our greatest gift and provides endless inspiration.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!
How to model poetry with students
In July 2020 during the Littlescribe Mini-Writing Festival, we experienced first-hand just how deeply children respond and love writing poetry
Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books, had thousands of students connecting to the land as a source of inspiration to write poetry.
Kirli led students in a three-minute Zoom session, where they closed their eyes, reflected and connected with their favourite landscape, from the bush to the beach.
Thousands of students were asked to quietly connect to what they saw, felt, smelt, and heard in relation to the landscape.
How would your favourite place feel? Or think? Or move?
Together the students brainstormed playing with words, language, including first nations’ languages, and used personification to bring their poems to life.
Children have an innate ability to connect rhyming words and ideas to create stories. Kirli evoked in each child the desire to personify the land just like Dorothea Mackellar had more than 115 years after My Country was first published.
Far from being a dying art, poetry’s resurgence in slam poetry, rap, and lyrics in songs provides real relevance and application for students today.
Educators can access, a series of resources and activities for students to work alongside Kirli Saunders in the Littlescribe Megascribe Program.
Why is poetry relevant today?
I often hear parents and students ask what’s the point of poetry? Is it still relevant today? The answer in short is yes.
How we engage students can help build complex, powerful literacy and real-life skills. How so?
Jobs of tomorrow involve the ability to cut through and create memorable moments, such as jingles on the radio, so being able to evoke emotion and increase memory by using rhyme and rhythm are techniques that sell.
Poetry is also a building block that deepens literacy skills and concepts like alliteration and onomatopoeia.
The rhyming of words is fun, joyful, and provides scope for students to experiment and stumble across concepts they can use later in life, perhaps not as a poet but rather as an effective communicator.
Emotionally poetry allows students to express themselves in a unique and personal way. The door is wide open for interpretation. Like the use of short sharp sentences. Or elongated lengthy lines lazily running on and off the page, like a river finding its natural flow.
Poetry requires the ability to connect the mind and emotions.
There is much focus on critical and creative skills being fundamental for our children as they move into the workplace.
Poetry requires interpretation and connection to the human experience.
Exposure to both reading and writing poetry is one form we can use to build these intangible, yet crucial life skills.
Below we share students poetry from Bowral and Caringbah schools. We believe you may just be reading the next Dorothea Mackellar, enjoy.
Our No# 1 tip to spark a love of poetry
How do you get children to connect with poetry?
Show them seriously clever young people performing slam poetry, such as The Australian Poetry Slam, it’s readily available and inspiring.
What is slam poetry?
Slam poetry is designed to be accessible for everyone it combines, rap, stories, monologue, poems and focuses on clever engaging delivery. Typically 2-3 minutes is all the time given to wow an audience.
Think of weaving, rap performances, stories, monologues and poems on stage, each performer has just two minutes to wow the crowd. Topics are current, designed to spark thought and ask questions.
Great example of students poet.
Start, with Solli Raphael at age 12 he was titled the youngest ever winner of the Australian Poetry Slam held at the Sydney Opera House after he performed ‘Australian Air’ – a poem about political wisdom, environmental awareness and the importance of social consciousness. He then rose to fame when his online performance was viewed over four million times in 24 hours.
Harry Baker from the UK is the youngest World Slam Poetry Champion at age 20. The first poem he wrote won the event and weaves the seemingly impossible subject of maths. It’s extraordinarily clever, he describes it as a love poem about prime numbers, called “59.”
I would encourage you to watch his performance on Ted-X as he provides a good model for students both in how he writes and delivers his poem.