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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

07 November 2020

Posted by Tabby Hayward

SINDBAD THE SAILOR

11-14 group - 14 attending
15-18 group - 8 attending

In our first session back after half-term, we returned to our work inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights tales, focusing on the stories of Sindbad the Sailor!

We began by looking at the frame story of Sindbad, and then his first two voyages - to whale island (an island where his crew start setting up camp and making a fire, before realising it is actually not an island after all, but a not-too-happy whale!) and the island of the Rocs (giant birds, who Sindbad and other merchants manage to manipulate to carry diamonds for them out of the valley of the snakes, by dropping meat onto the diamonds!) 

Inspired by these stories, the young writers were given a choice to EITHER write their own version of one of these stories, adding in as much descriptive detail as possible, and/or writing from a different perspective/adapting it in any other ways they liked - OR they could come up with an entirely new voyage for Sindbad, following the classic shape of all of his stories - starting out full of excitement to make his fortune, encountering a difficulty/danger/obstacle, defeating it, and returning home prosperous and happy!

In the older group, Manon wrote a beautiful descriptive reimagining of the Whale Island story, with brilliant vivid imagery, both of the beauty of the island and the struggles of the sailors, while Elsie wrote an excellent, politically-minded piece from the perspective of the Roc birds, who knew they were being exploited for the diamonds, and were ready to start the revolution!

Here are some examples of the stories from the younger group, where they have all imagined their own voyages for Sindbad:


Sindbad was sitting on the beach of an island relaxing and watching the ocean.Guards came running down and accused him of stealing from the queen.They arrested him and took him to confront the queen.He explains that he was on the beach the whole time but they didn't believe him.Until he caught one of the guards about to steal the queen's crown.They forgave him and let him stay in the castle for as long as he needed.He got luxurious food and a bedroom.He set off but was told he was always welcome at the castle he even got a couple hundred coins to help him on his journeys.    By Annie 


Hunt the Spot  - A short story by Jazz                                                               
Once there was a man called Sinbad who got himself into all sorts of situations and trouble. This time he was being chased by a tiger through the dark forest, with only a red torchlight. Anyway, Sinbad climbs up a tall palm tree and shines the red light onto the ground near the tiger. The big cat chases the light around the tree a few times before becoming dizzy and confused. Sinbad chuckles to himself as the tiger runs straight into a boulder and Knocks himself out. Sinbad slides down the pine tree and escapes from the forest just as the sun comes up. Once he got back to the small village, the townspeople thank him for scaring away the tiger. They reward him with coins. From the money he earns Sinbad is able to build a boat and sail home.  The End


Sinbad was ready for departure, setting sail to the most deserted place you could find, the middle of the pacific ocean. His voyage paused after he stepped on to a vacant island stuffed with stones. He went deeper and deeper, searching for what lurks in these premises. Not so long afterwards, he heard the whizzing in the distance. Sindbad just kept walking. But then light had been sucked out of the area. The sun was blocked. The flying thing was vast. Its tail scrapped off the island. Sindbad felt and the shock wave lifted him off his feet. He fell back to his ship. He went back home, but not loosing fortune.  By Safir


On a warm and sunny day, near the tropical rainforest of Brazil, Sindbad the sailor and his crew had brought goods to trade with the Brazilian people. From boomerangs from Australia to hula skirts from Hawaii, they had loads to choose from.

The only problem was that none of the crew could speak to the people. None of them spoke Portuguese. They also didn't know anyone who could translate for them. You're probably thinking use Google Translate. But unfortunately for Sindbad, it hadn't been invented yet.

They asked everyone in the town if they spoke English. They even asked a parrot. But it said, "Do you speak English?"

So that wasn't helpful. They resorted to buying a dictionary from the local shop. However, they didn't know what 'dictionary' was in Portuguese. They could have bought an atlas for all we know.

So they went to the shop and bought one of each book and checked which one was a dictionary.

"That's a thesaurus, an information booklet in Portuguese, a book in Portuguese... Where is that dictionary?" Sindbad said half to himself.

"It's over here, Sindbad. Oh, no wait, it's another book." one of the crew said.

"Does anyone have a dictionary?" Sindbad asked.

"And why would you need that?" a voice said.

"Who said that?"

"I did."

Behind Sindbad, there was a young Brazilian girl.

"You can speak English and Portuguese?"

"Yes. Why?"

"We want to sell these."

Sindbad pointed to their goods.

So, with the help of the girl, they sold all their goods and became wealthy once more.

By Evie



Next, our young writers were challenged to come up with their own original character who, like Sindbad, would have the potential to go on many adventures and who a reader would want to follow over a whole series of stories.
Some questions to think about were:

  • What do they do for a living? (they could be a sailor, like Sindbad, or an astronaut, or a pilot, or a detective, or a soldier, or a vet, or a doctor, or a musician, or an artist…try to think of something which would involve travel/lots of different experiences!)
  • What do they enjoy/not enjoy?
  • What are their dreams/ambitions?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • Why would a reader want to stick with them? What makes them an exciting, interesting, convincing character?
Next, the young writers started to come up with a frame story – how will this character's story start off (perhaps they start in difficulties/poverty/coming from nothing, like Sindbad, and have big dreams of how they want their life to be!)
What could be a reason for all of their adventures? Where would be the point they would start off/always return to?

Here are some examples of some Sindbad-inspired characters from our younger group, and their frame narratives/starts of their stories:

Adventures of Pippi (my dog)- by Annie 

She defends pets being abused by
their owners and protects all in need.She's a black dog with a white
chest.She’s a lab crossed with a collie and is quicker than lightning yet more
cunning than a fox with a smell for danger and abuse. Still only a normal dog
with owners,she still secretly sneaks out at night to have justice against
those who may harm her fellow pets.



On a walk,Pippi was chasing a stick when she saw a puppy
being hit and shouted at by its owner.Dropping the stick,she growls at the
human and chases the owner off.The puppy follows Pippi back and her owner Annie
takes the puppy to a shelter and explains it was being abused.That is when the
adventures of Pippi started. 


The Journeys of Guffer the Guinea Pig - by Jazz 

He is a fat boy, no job, no house and very, very chunky. Guffer thinks he should try to loose some weight so decides to go on many amazing adventures in hope of earning money and making friends.

Guffer decides to go to a training camp with humans, they are very confused who there is a fat guinea pig doing the courses and climbing ropes and doing the training camp with them. He finishes the camp with a perfect 6 pack and goes off to find a job. Guffer decided to stop being chunky. And so the journey begins..  

 Guffer finds a job working in the office, he then forgets about stopping being chunky and loads up on food again. He wasn’t as chunky as before but now rather quite chubby. After a few weeks, Guffer is able to buy a nice house and moves away from his parents. Guffer is doing well. 2 months later he takes a break from work and goes on holiday. he visits him mum and dad on the way, and a few hours later is on his way to France for the week. And so the adventure begins…..


Adventures on the Topple family (mainly Tee) - By Erin  
Tee topple is an excitable leaf-head creature. They have a very small head and a very round body and is like a teddy bear. they are small for a leaf-head creature. their hair is made of three leaves. they are not very smart and very clumsy and excitable. Tee likes roly polys and they dislike sleeping (even though they have to hibernate during the winter). Tee’s biggest fear is Mrs Peggywhistle, the Topples grumpy neighbour who does not like having her house toilet papered. (Erin's illustration of Tee is available to view below!)

And here is Thomas' Sindbad-inspired character, and his incredible, enthralling first adventure (which does contain some violence):

I have decided on this day that my everyday life is not
enough, and thus I move to record my previous adventures. I was a pirate once,
a smuggler for those who could pay me good coin, and I sailed far and wide to
retrieve the objects in the sights of my hirers. Once, they tasked me with the
retrieval of a dragon’s egg from the halls off Djenne, and the reward from this
was enough to secure my comfort for life. My heart was full of luxurious foods,
and my mind swam in the richest wine.

I
was once again restless, however, and grew to yearn the sea-faring life I had
left behind. And so, after stowing away my treasures so that they may not be
discovered by any other than I, I set about acquiring a crew with which to set
sail. We were a hearty lot, as was always the case, with a jolly old captain
who knew the ocean well, and a crew that made the ship sparkle as if it were a
painting on an oily-blue canvas. We set out for treasure, for no giant birds or
enormous people were to hinder our goal – we were to be rich as kings.  

We
had struck out for two days, growing ever more excited in our evening
merry-making that our destination was growing closer. I stayed as calm as I
could when I was sober, but the drink and the stars lost me my senses. We
roared over the sea like some great monster ourselves, causing enough noise to
frighten away the fish and dolphins that had been our companions thus far,
before we finally sunk into a deep stupor under the rising sun.

We awoke to find the captain missing,
and, in his bunk, nothing to clue us to his whereabouts. After exiting the
lower cabins, we found that we had stopped on an island. Trees peppered the
shoreline, the prelude to some great forest inland, and hid the remaining
natural beauty of the land save one – some titanic oak that towered over the
rest of the canopy. Figuring that the captain was a man of reason, we set
towards the trunk through the forest. I could sense the crew becoming more
nervous as we proceeded, and I have to admit that my heartbeat was quickening
with anticipation. There was something in the upper branches, watching us, but
we foolishly paid it no heed and continued forwards.                

We
discovered the captain in a precarious situation. He was roped around the huge
circumference of the tree, tied in such a way that he could not retrieve his
knife. As such, it was left up to us to free him from this trap. He seemed
eerily still as we undid the knots that were fortunately only a few metres to
our right. The ropes slackened around the great oak and we all instinctively
took a step away. I believe the whispering of the wind through the long grass
at our feet is what made us shiver. Our captain did not move, even when the
ropes had fallen to be lying just in front of his feet. 

He
slowly toppled forwards, and, though one of the crew to my left cried out for
him to be mindful, no one went to slow his descent. As his face met the grass
with a horrifying thud, we saw the awful slash marks that gouged his back. They
were vile scratches, each one running vertically down his body as if with a
sabre, and one deeper than most in the centre of the terror, through which we
could note his absent spine. It seemed as so someone had ripped open his back,
and stolen his wits for their own. Since no man can survive without his wits,
there was no wonder why the poor fellow had simply died. 

There
was a sudden, horrible cry from the direction of our boat, and we all sprinted
that way, tears in our eyes for the loss of our jolly captain. We now wanted
nothing more but to leave from this place and to never return, and our racing
hearts gave us the courage to push through the dense brush. Once we eventually
made it back to our boat, the watch we placed there was nowhere to be seen, his
smoking pipe still lit in the sand where it had been unceremoniously dropped.
We wandered around the beach, staying in pairs so that whatever was taking our
companions might not pick us off one at a time, and searched for our crewmate,
but still we could not locate him. We all dreaded the reality that we knew must
have been true - that our friend had also been tied to the enormous tree,
soaked in his own blood. 

That
night, the winds stayed quiet, and we all huddled in our blankets in fear. We
hoped beyond hope that Allah would notice our plight, and would speed us on our
way in the morning, so that we would never have to set foot in this horrible
place again. I lay awake, much like the crew I shared the hull with, until I
noticed the dark shape of a man stir to my right. He seemed to retrieve
something from his pouch (a pipe and smoke, I’d imagine) and exited the hull. I
noticed the bated breath of the crew, and felt my own pulse quicken with a
similar anticipation. Suddenly, we heard a gut-wrenching scream from the poor
man outside, and saw his figure re-enter the cabin, only to be surrounded by
what seemed to be an enormous tentacle, covered in blades, and stolen from the
night. 

That
morning, we were granted a speedy wind and lucky currents, allowing us to
escape from the very mouth of hell. I wish never to set my eyes on such a place
again, for else I feel that my heart will lose its will for exploration
forevermore.

Next week will be a little different, as we'll be taking part in a special workshop on Identities with Bohdan Piasecki, as part of ArtfulScribe and Winchester Poetry Festival's Poetry Pilgrimage! We can't wait!




Tee Topple - Erin's original character!

Whale Island

The whale's had enough!

The Roc bird

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