Thursday, May 9

A Group Poetry-Writing Activity

Last week my creative writing tutor gave the class a poetry-writing exercise, which I thought I’d share with you.  It is very simple, but it was fun and it might be something you’d like to try with your friends, family, or class. 

TASK:  In small groups, we were instructed to go around the campus and record a list of at least 20 things that we saw, smelt, heard, felt, or tasted, (although we were sternly reminded this was not an opportunity for a coffee break). 

FURTHER INSTRUCTION: However, we were also encouraged to record these things with as much description as possible, and consider what these things reminded us of, or made us think about, which led us to create some very whacky metaphors and similes.  We strolled about for half an hour, peering through windows, stroking the dewy lawn and tickling tree trunks, smelling garden mulch and exhaust fumes and hot coffee.  Our imaginations went wild and we experimented with weird, courageous ideas. 

STEP 2: When we finally went back to the classroom, we had a long list.  We were instructed to spend a minute or so going back through our list and refining or adding to them.  Then we had to divide the list between our group members so that each person had five or so items. 

STEP 3:  We then used our five items to individually write a verse of poetry.  We could use as many or as few of the items as we liked – the chemistry was up to us. 

STEP 4:  After writing our verse, we rejoined as a group and read our verses aloud to each other.  (We were surprised how a common theme of nature vs. pollution ran through all of our poetry.)  We were instructed to combine our individual verses as one full-length poem, and so we chose a running order and gave it a title.  We then read it aloud to the class.   


It was a fun exercise, because it gave us the opportunity to get out of the classroom, to interact more creatively with classmates, and to push our perspective on ordinary things, just like we did when we made the ordinary extraordinary in a challenge last year.  It might be something you'd like to try if you're feeling blocked creatively.  

I'm hoping to post a couple more writing activities like this, since I've had some pretty cool ones to do in class which I'm keen to share.  Look out for them.  


  1. Wow... I like that! I'll try it on my granddaughter, she loves to write stories.
    And... Isn't it a sign that propaganda and brain washing work wonders among young people: you pulled out the nature vs pollution current major... piece of propaganda overshadowing everything else.

  2. Oh I'm glad you like it. I wish that my family had done an activity like this when I was home-schooled. It would have made poetry so much more enjoyable and free. Yes, it's very interesting how certain themes seem to be very recurrent in our generation.

  3. You don't have to agree with what I say!!!! I was actually hoping to challenge you! Do YOU think the pollution theme is propaganda? What sort of poem did you write in this exercice? Give us a sample!

  4. Thanks, Frankie, for trying to push my boundaries a little. I hope that I've understood your question correctly. I do believe that there the pollution vs. nature theme is propaganda. As early as primary school, we're fed a lot of this propaganda - even our learning-to-read readers talk about it - so it seems very natural that we're so preoccupied by this topic. I don't think that it's necessary bad propaganda, though, because at least it raises awareness and responsibility for our actions. Unfortunately I can't share this particular poem because it is a mix-match of several people's work. However, when I post another writing exercise, I will definitely write a sample to go with it. Hopefully I'll get time to post the next one shortly!


Please leave a comment to respond to my post or start a new conversation about whatever it is that you're passionate about.

If you don't have a Blogger or Google account, you can always leave an anonymous comment. Thankyou for taking the time!