You can also access this prompt in Gaelic.
We all yearn for a fresh start. The excitement of the unfamiliar is intoxicating, motivating us to reinvent ourselves or the path we are on. These stories of adventure are the stories of the changes we have made in our lives, that take us or make into something completely new. Although a new beginning can come from an unexpected or challenging place, these are the stories of hope – they tell of the moments where we left something behind, found the courage to start a new chapter and moved forward in our lives.
Describing our experience of change is well suited to writing poetry. We often draw on rich images and metaphor to explain what a complex situation felt like. Writing a poem about it can give a flexible way to explore the experience from different viewpoints and to simply and intuitively present a range of emotions.
Warm-up: Everything changes
Step 1: Write a list of 3 things that you think make images of a change/new beginning. For example a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
Step 2: Camera Zoom – for this exercise, imagine you have a magic sense camera that not only takes pictures or film but also records sound, touch, smell and taste. Select your favourite image and write about it briefly from three different perspectives:
- What do you notice (and what don't you see) if you are looking at it from a distance through a wide lens?
- What can you see and hear if you are taking a close up?
- What does it feel like if you point your camera the inside of the change out?
Brainstorm: Mapping the adventure
Think about your own experiences of change. Which changes have been your biggest adventures? What is the new beginning you would like to write about?
- Take a large piece of paper, turn it landscape (wider than it is tall) and draw a horizontal line across the middle.
- Make a point at the centre of the line. This is the heart of your adventure, when you were right in the middle of your change.
- Make a point in the left-hand section of the line. This is the starting point of the change, your first step – everything to the left of this point is 'before'.
- Make a point in the right-hand section of the line. This is when you completed your change, took your final step, everything to the right of this point is 'after'.
Think back to the camera from the earlier exercise – and use that technique to make some notes about what comes to mind when you think about your new beginning from each part of the line. For example:
- If you were standing in the heart of your adventure and looking back, what might 'before' look like from a distance?
- What is it in the close-up detail that brings your first step to life?
- How does the final step feel different if you view it from the first step, from the heart of the adventure or if, from 'after', you turn back to look at it again?
Notes can be single words, images, senses, description of actual events – whatever you like.
Using the map of your adventure and your collection of images from the warm up task, write a poem that captures the new beginning in your life. The simplest structure might be to write 3 verses, one about your first step, one about being in the middle of the adventure and one about your last step, but you can move about in your map however you like.
Is there one moment in your notes that stands out for you? Is there an image from your list above that crystalises how you changed between before and after? Is the most noticeable change in what you did or how you felt?