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Imagery - Poetry Writing Workshop by Mark Grist


Why not try and write your own poem that shows an environment that's out of control? You could set it at a birthday party, at a football match or even in a library. How crazy a picture can you create with just words?


When I was younger I used to love reading ‘Where's Wally?’ books. The chaos in the pictures always fascinated me. It also made me wonder whether you could create the same kind of chaos using only words. As an experiment I wrote 'The Head of Progress', where I created an image of an out of control classroom. Check it out below.

First of all, you need to choose a busy place/event that you could write about. The best thing to do would be to write three places that you have been in the last week.

When you have your list of three places, decide on the kinds of unusual things that could happen in each one. Make a list of between 5 and 10 things for your chosen place. Once you're done, choose one of the places and decide which order you want to put the events in - it's often best to start with smaller actions, with larger actions at the end of the poem, to help it seem as though everything is spiralling out of control.

You now need to decide who is talking about the actions, and who they're talking to. In my poem I chose to make it a child talking to the Head of Progress. In yours it could be someone talking to a police officer/parent/friend about the events.

Start writing the poem. In mine I use rhyme and I repeat 'Sir' to get the two characters across. You may want do something similar, but feel free to write it however you want. How can you best create a sense of chaos?

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An Example of a Imagery

There's a fight, Sir
By the lockers, Sir
And Aidan's battered Paul
Daniel's strangled Jordan
Cos Jordan took his ball
Isaac's ripped his shirt, Sir
And Michael spat on Sue
She was only trying to stop them
And she's got it on her shoe!
The lunchtime supervisor left, Sir
She said she couldn't stay
Jane's crying in the toilets
And the gerbil got away
Saqib knocked the cage, Sir
The door, it just flipped back
And it ran behind the cupboard
And it's stuck inside a crack.
We poked it with a stick, Sir
But the powder paint got spilt
It's all over the carpet
And that castle Connor built
I think you ought to come, Sir
Mildred Miles was sick
And all the boys were yelling
And Martin threw a brick
It nearly hit John Bailey
And he stepped on Sama's thumb
So shall I say you're coming?
She wants to call her mum
Shall we get the cleaners
And can I mop the paint?
The new boy's torn his jacket
And he thinks he's going to faint.
The other teachers said, Sir
That I should come to you
Cos you're the Head of Progress
So you'd know what to do,

The Head of Progress by Mark Grist

Your Turn

Finished? Why not submit your poem to Young Writers and we will enter it into one of our competitions.

Alternatively send your poem to:

Young Writers, Remus House, Coltsfoot Drive, Woodston, Peterborough, PE2 9BF or email it to