A Handful of Soil – Poetry Exercise

I was talking about the possibility of teaching poetry to people of all ages as I am soon to be published  and this exercise came to me suddenly and out of the blue.


If I were to give you a handful of soil what would you do with it?

It seems to be ripe with possible meanings, the essence of poetry. These could be words, feelings, thoughts, ideas.

You could write it, say it, demonstrate it…..

If you find it useful then please let me know or just give it a go and tell your thought poem to a friend or family member.

It could go something like this


Give me a handful of soil

And I will say my goodbye

And plant in it a seed

that for future generations will grow.


A family member might never have known you had poetical leanings or aspirations in that area!

There are no rules that you have to follow but if you want a guide then try to keep your poem it under twenty lines, to begin with, and to ask why? when you try to rhyme. Show don’t tell. Relax, it’s not an exam!

You might find it easier if you make a space to work in where you will not be disturbed. If you are worried about turning off your phone for an extended period then give yourself ten minutes only when you divert your calls to voicemail and have pen and paper ready or alternatively use your computers notepad or word processor. When FIRST STARTING OUT I RECCOMEND USING PEN AND PAPER AND DON’T BE AFRAID OF SCRUBBING OUT.

When you have an idea write it down. It’s only for you . Try not to worry about what others would/might think. A poem might come in five/ten minutes or it might take longer. Don’t be disheartened. Take breaks. Read other people’s poetry.

Keep trying.

If you want to read poetry then you will find many poets of all shapes and sizes at Allpoetry.com

Unfortunately, I can’t be there when you have your poem and have something you want to show someone but you could try instead a trusted friend or someone you look up to or if you are feeling confident someone  at school or work. Chances are they won’t be an expert either.

And don’t worry if you are not writing like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Maya Angelou or any of the greats to begin with. You have your whole life to improve and enjoy poetry.

So Good luck and have fun!


How Not To Write A Good Poem

Barnacles , Testicles, Wallet , Watch

I must be a good Catholic

I know the Pope can only be a man

I know nothing much else.

AM Watkins

Distilling words into poems

is no joke. Neither is it like making whisky.

Through the vacuum of space like a place in your mind where words are weightless, meaningless

to the fertile cress seeds of wilting inspiration via the vigorous growth spurts to the

bodger making a hole in a balloon of despair

most of the time it feels like its never going to happen.

(let alone rhyme or titillate or prevaricate into one)

I have learned that I wouldn’t know a good poem if it came and bit me on the ass. This is a good place to be while you are tearing out metaphorical RAM and installing upgrades like Mestopholes getting under floor heating in hell (you don’t need it – Geddit)

‘It’ being the thing that says ‘don’t slip up on a banana skin or use cliche’ (the preddominant part of my writing brain) also says that the glass lake is pure even simple. How can I enjoin some excitement to that except through trying an amalgam of the two? Get your skates on that glass pool won’t be pure for ever. And don’t forget ‘Don’t fall over’

Turn out the lights and you might get some idea of the confusion of practice. How do I not make a sentence boring? Well I am not one for making and following rules but like any story a sentence might be better with a begining , a middle and an end. Write sentences with only two words and tell me that its impossible. I don’t and won’t care. I don’t even care that I have not yet gone viral thus proving my poetical thruppence in the game of dominoes that is something like 21st century poetry Slam! I am quite happy writing.

Buddha Step aside! I am the Enlightened one MUHAHHAHA! Or something like that.

See If i had been looking for it I might never have found it. Looking for it does not involve reading the dictionary or encyclopedia or even urban Dictionary. No It’s in the inconstant thoughts that like pedestrians all stop for a Pelican Crossing then when the lights turn Red, all start walking again at their own speed and in their own directions and who eventually end up at some destination. Like the happy tourist photographing Street Photography you can only learn so much about people through their photographs. In real life you have to be a stalker – And follow them. (thoughts not people – and not obsessively like The Hamburgler or Kaiser Soze with murder in mind). And remember Every journey starts with single step.I think thats enough advice for one day.

Stay Tuned!