I offer poetry sessions for primary and secondary schools. These involve whole class, group and individual work, and exercise core skills: reading, discussion, note-taking, writing and presenting. I work with all levels, from P1 to S6. All sessions link to the Curriculum for Excellence literacy strand; many can be linked with other CfE strands, especially Social Studies and Expressive Arts.

I have also written a number of online poetry resources for teachers, which are listed below.

Please CONTACT me for further details regarding topics, availability and costs. Sessions may be eligible for financial support from Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature scheme.

Primary Schools

I can run sessions on topics including
• Neighbourhood – writing about the local environment
• Short Forms – writing short poems, including haiku, one-word poems, mesostics, and circle poems
• World War Two: The Home Front – using poems about evacuees as models, we explore the wartime experiences of children in cities and in the countryside

Recent primary school projects include

Bealach, 4 primary schools, Lewis and Harris. with An Lanntair. I worked with pupils to write poems about the island, to be made later into sculptures, 2017

Buson VPS 14
Buson, with Victoria Primary School, Newhaven, Edinburgh; we looked at haiku by the Japanese poet Yosa Buson (1716–1783), and wrote haiku about the local harbour, 2017

The Water’s Edge: YES Arts Festival
Running poem-writing workshops in primary schools, with a view to pupils writing and entering poems for a competition on the theme of ‘The Water’s Edge’, 2017

Leith Creates, working with P7 pupils towards creating material for their leavers’ assembly, with Stephen Fischbacher / Suzanne Butler (music) and Lorna Irvine (drama), 2014, 2015 & 2016

KC MB Mortlach 01
Mortlach Storywalks, Dufftown, Moray, working with P2, P4 & P7 pupils to write stories as guides to walks in the area, published as leaflets; with digital artist Janie Nicoll and sculptor Mary Bourne, 2011

Letters to the Wind 2011
A Letter to the Wind, with visual artist Louise Fraser: working with P7 pupils to write texts for prayer flags, Edinburgh International Festival, 2011.

Great activities. Very usable in the primary classroom. Good ideas for collaboration and discussion as well as individual writing.
Teacher, CPD session, Aberdeenshire

At the beginning, a member of the class said to me that they couldn’t write poetry – by the end of it, they were so enthuastic that they shared their poem with the class.
Teacher, P7 class, Edinburgh

I think the poetry is good and short. You can understand. Not too many words.
P4 pupil, Midlothian

Secondary Schools

I can run sessions on topics including
• Writing Out Of Doors – writing poems about locality outwith the classroom
• On the flyleaf – using reading experiences to write poems drawing together personal experience and public discourse
• What am I? – looking at how one thing can be described in terms of another, as riddles and metaphors

Recent projects include

Herbert Collected spine
Year of Herbert 2018
, reading and writing sessions focussing on the work of the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert (1924–1998)

Dundreggan JH
Trees for Life,working with S3 pupils from Glenurquhart High School, at TfL’s Dundreggan estate and at school, writing about the landscape, its ecology and its (mainly Gaelic) place-names, 2017

Sunny summer morning
Buson 2016, a day with pupils from Jeburgh Academy and artist Andrew MacKenzie, walking, writing, drawing and painting, to make works inspired by the Japanese artist and poet Yosa Buson (1716–1783)

Abbotsford, touring the gardens and new Visitor Centre at Sir Walter Scott’s home with S2 pupils from Galashiels Academy, followed up by writing workshops, 2012

Workshop was well-structured and timings were effective… all aspects of the day were excellent and a very worthwhile experience.
Teacher, after session with S3 class

Poetry Resources for Teachers

Edwin Morgan – materials on 8 separate poems, suitable for a wide range of age groups and levels, from P4 to S6 (Scottish Poetry Library)

Exploring Sonnets Interactively – for secondary schools, from Getting started with Shakespeare – Exploring scenes and sonnets (National Library of Scotland)

Ghosts of War – activities for P6-S2 and S3-S6 (Scottish Poetry Library & National Museums of Scotland)

Parliament & Poetry – These resources are aimed at primary and secondary school teachers bringing groups of pupils to visit the parliament, who would like to use the visit as a stimulus for creative writing. (The Scottish Parliament)

Past Present Future (National Poetry Day 2018) – for Key Stage 2/3 (National Poetry Day)

The Written World (Scottish Poetry Library)
Upper Primary (P5–P7)
Richard Price, Great Britain
Miroslav Holub, Czech Republic
Semezdin Mehmedinović, Bosnia–Herzegovinia
Lower secondary (S1–S3)
Niyi Osundare, Nigeria
Dragutin Tadijanovic, Croatia & Vasko Popa, Serbia (wolves)
Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal
Adrian Croucher, New Zealand
Upper secondary (S4–S6)
Derek Walcott, St Lucia
Saadiah Mufarreh, Kuwait
Moniza Alvi, Pakistan & Attila József, Hungary (fabrics)
Wang Wei, China

Wild Words: Lochaber Poetry Pack – landscape-themed writing activities for P1–S2 classes (Nevis Partnership)

Zbigniew Herbert – secondary schools

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Ken Cockburn's website & blog

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