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21 June 2023

Posted by Antosh Wojcik & Claire Hillier

WORDCUP - Hounsdown Session #5

Antosh’s Report:

This week, the group poem first drafts are forged. The groups are selected and they begin to apply the group writing techniques on the central themes we’ve chosen – using cut ups and roll writing, sharing their writing drafts from sessions up to this point. The groups have elected ‘Witnessing Change’ & ‘Dear Unknown’ as their central subjects.

Our ‘Bearing Witness’ group are writing a poem about Witnessing Change, which centres on the story of The Last Tree, a metaphoric fable that tells the tale of the last tree standing in the wasteland, the dynamics at play and the societal/human impacts. It’s heavy, considered and lush with images.

Our ‘Dear Unknown’ group are writing into the various stages of feeling the unknown in your life. They’ve brought in quizzical and profound insights into what you don’t know as a kid, up to the point of what they think ‘the end’ might be like. It’s no surprise, but the Hounsdown writers love those deep concepts. We’re thrilled with the level they’re pushing themselves to write into, and it’s clear by the end of the session, we’re going to be bringing some epic tapestries to WORDCUP this year.

Claire’s Report:

When: Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

Where: Hounsdown School - English Department

Who: (Poet Coach) Antosh Wojcik, (Assistant Poet Coach) Claire Hillier.

Featuring a cut out poem using lines from the Ode’s the team contributed last session.

Welcome session #5

The WORDCUP 23 Wessex Team and reserves gathered in a roasting classroom,

We opened with a check in, asking if our day was Headgear (glasses/hat, etc.) what would it be?

Antosh: a crash helmet that gets stronger with each crash

Ava: an American Football helmet - encased in stress

Cassie: a flat cap granddads wear

Lucy: a pork pie hat - weird

Ella: a pig hat (eat, sleep, repeat)

Alicia: a random sock - annoying. Different

Rhai: lots of plain black clips - plain

Kitty: hair rollers - prep for the big dream

Xenya: a dag - first off it’s cute, but then gets annoying

Sam L: Headphones - an average day into a sweeter one

●     Claire: tiny antlers - feeling like a summer animal

Following the check-in we jumped right in and started thinking about the tasks ahead. A few important questions were floated, namely who is going to be in which group?

The two categories (two group poems we need) are:

  1. Theme of ‘Witness

  2. Objects (theme chosen by the group)

The plan for today's session: sort out the 2 teams, and craft a first draft of both group poems. Antosh wrote out the two draft poem Titles on the board;

  1. Witnessing Change/Growth

  2. “Dear Unknown”

The group sorted themselves into two teams and had discussions about which poem they might like to write and deliver. They also came up with group names:

1. The Crab Claws: Kitty, Rhai, Sam L, Sam C, Xenya

2. Well Lush, Hot & Fresh: Ava, Cassie, Lucy, Amy

3.    (and our amazing reserve squad: Ella and Alicia)

After feeding back and a little discussion it was agreed.

The Crab Claws = Witnessing Change

Well Lush, Hot & Fresh = “Dear Unknown”

Writing & Sourcing Inspiration

With the 2 poem teams established - Antosh introduced a writing prompt exercise using cut up lines from the groups Ode’s they wrote and shared.

Everyone had the opportunity to take a cut up section of their choice and use it as a starting point to write a new poem, or start a poem around their allocated theme.

An idea generator from their own words. This exercise led to some interesting ideas and kick started concepts that became collective plans for the group's poems.

The Crab Claws = Witnessing Change

Planning stage

This group decided to use the image of the last tree, standing in a wasteland. What has this tree witnessed? What has it seen? How long has it been there?

Each of the poets would write from the point of view of a different part of the tree. Creating a piece with distinct stanzas to perform and an overarching thread tying them together. It’s a brilliant idea.

The parts of their tree they each chose to represent are: fruit, birds, a caterpillar, branches and the roots.

Writing/Drafting stage

We then had a timed freewrite session. To individually work on the poem sections and generate some material to shape. Then we took some time to edit/select the best lines/re-draft before sharing.

The team produced a striking prologue - this is a really strong start to a piece;

The last tree stands in the wasteland

Residue of factories

Black sludge, lingering fumes

Barren plain, cracked ground

The tree remembers what used to surround

It stands strong, defiant.

The last light In onset darkness

Well done!!! The individual sections came along nicely too. The team were thinking about what order to go in and bringing performance elements into their collaboration process.

Well Lush, Hot & Fresh = “Dear Unknown”

Planning stage

This group spent a long-time planning and discussing their concept. They had a lot of excellent ideas and wanted to tackle some big subjects. Bold and brave. Excited to see what they come up with;

A letter to the Unknown

A conversation with the unknown

Different stages of a life


●     Hide & seek with the Unknown

Drafting stage

The group decided on sections to write and allocated them amongst themselves. They did plenty of freewriting exercises and got the bones of some great poetry down.

They are going to take these away and work on them independently, and there was discussion of having a get together outside of school/workshop time - now that’s dedication!

We very much look forward to hearing this poem develop. More poetic progress to come next week.

Both teams did brilliantly today. The focus, collaboration, creativity and poetic styles were super impressive all round.


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