‘Poetry under the stars’ evoked an interest in poetry writing among school children
It was a star-studded evening amply lit by a full moon. Children sat cross-legged on Korapais while some stood bare footon the lawns. The stage was a dreamy setting decorated with colourful blooms and twinkling serial lights. Soft music played in the background while a slide show of flowers, animals, landscapes and rivers was on. At a poetry workshop in Lakshmi School , nearly 150 students and 30 teachers recited 45 poems in six languages.
Under the theme ‘nature’, the workshop started with William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ and the evening took the kids through John Keats’ ‘Grasshopper and the cricket’, Ruskin Bond’s ‘Grandma Climbs a tree’, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Way through the woods’ and many other famous poems. Tamil Ayya Muthukumar, a well-known Tamil teacher from a government school captivated students with timely jokes and one-liners. While teachers also recited poems, relevant anecdotes and riddles kept the session lively.
“One’s immediate surrounding has been the inspiration for many poets. To compose a poem, one needs to have keen observation skills, love and emotions and good vocabulary,” said Muthukumar, the resource person. . “In olden days, there were many rules and there was a style sheet for poetry writing. But these days, poetry has taken a liberal avatar. It is all about expressing one’s own inner feelings in a language that’s easily understandable by others.”
While Hindi teachers read out poems such as Harihar Trivedi’s ‘Prakriti Ka Sandesh’, Tamil counterparts read out modern age Tamil poems by contemporary writers. A Malayalam poem ‘Soundarya Pooja’ by P. Kunniraman Nair describing the festivity of Onam was also read out apart from Tagore’s Bengali poem ‘Shonar todi’ that was composed on rain in Bengal during the harvest season.
Citing the example of Tamil Poet Subrahmanya Bharatiyar, Muthukumar urged students to get inspired by nature and feel strong about a subject in order to write a poem on the subject. “The basis for poetry writing is the habit of reading, listening and enjoying or admiring small things around us,” said Muthukumar.
School Vice Principal and the brain behind the workshop, Shanti Mohan, said, “, “This is the second time we are conducting the workshop and the results are highly satisfying. Our students have developed a liking for poetry and some have also won competitions at national levels.” According to her, such workshops expose children to fine arts, culture and language and improves creativity. “Usually, kids learn poetry only for the exams. Here, we aim to change that. . We have print a newsletter in which poems by the school children are published.”
T. Lakshmi, an English Teacher recited the poem ‘Romance’ by R.L. Stevenson. “Writing writing involves a lot of emotions,” she said. “I want children to know that a writer can have myriad moods. A writer like Stevenson known for detective novels has also written poem on a subject like love and romance. Children should get groomed the creative way.”
Jerome of Class seven who recited a poem ‘Make a room for an elephant’, said , “I memorized the poem in just two hours and reciting it made me overcome stage fear.” His friend Srinath added “I like reading poems now. . I find music and rhythm in poems and that attracts me.”
Aniruddh, another student said “After listening to poems, I have started thinking philosophically. I try to find a deeper meaning in simple things.”