Poetry with Flora Chol: Teen Writing Bootcamp
During the first week of our teen poetry writing boot camp, 30–40 young poets and writers joined me on Zoom, eager to learn the art of poetry writing and spoken word poetry. I was initially apprehensive about the idea of teaching young people poetry online, as it was a whole new ball game, different to my standard method of teaching face-to-face. Nonetheless, I was eager to put my apprehension aside; the smiling faces of all the girls and boys in the small Zoom squares made everything a little less daunting. The young people that took part in each of the four workshops I hosted were some of the most talented learners I’ve had the honour of teaching. I was deeply inspired by their curiosity about the art of poetry writing and their eagerness to learn, especially venturing into something that seemed a little scary at first but was worthwhile in the end.
Our first workshop was more of a meet and greet. It was an opportunity for all the young people to get to know me through a Q&A about my work, publications, and general interests and hobbies. I shared some poetry from my book Tomorrow’s Dream before leading a discussion about my favourite writers and poets. In the final few minutes of the workshop, I gave a rundown of the topics we would be working on in the following workshops and asked the young people what they would like to gain from these sessions, and if there was anything in particular they wanted to focus on or learn.
Next, we focused on poetic techniques and the use of poetic techniques in writing poetry. We noted that one hour is just not enough to go through all the poetic techniques, share examples or run an activity with all the techniques, which is why we focused on just five of the most common poetic techniques. We learned about using metaphors, similes, alliteration, repetition and enjambment. Initially, many of the young writers didn’t feel very confident about playing with these techniques, but after walking through them and giving many examples from my own writing, the young poets successfully composed many poems by the end of the session. Their homework was to develop a poem based on the five techniques we focused on to bring to the next session.
Then in the third session we shared our home poems. The young writers led a discussion about the topics they chose and their overall experiences. In the final phase of the writing bootcamps we learned about spoken word poetry and the techniques used in spoken word poetry. It was truly delightful reciting some of my own poetry and sharing videos from some of my favourite spoken-word artists.
In our final workshop we did an overall recap and discussed the steps towards becoming a published author and writing poetry for a living. For example, we talked about when and how to make a start and when not to get discouraged. Overall, the feedback from the young people was highly uplifting and resonated on a very positive tone. I trust that the next generation of poets will inspire great change in the lives of many unsuspecting individuals.
More to explore
Find out more about the Teen Writing Bootcamp programs.
This program has been made possible with the generosity of Serp Hills Foundation and The JTM Foundation.