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    Poet in Residence Inspires CSG Writers

    For the second year running, the English Department has been very lucky to have Jane Duran as poet in residence. Jane was brought up in the United States and Chile, moving to England in 1966 after graduating from Cornell University. The themes of silence, loss and exile haunt much of her work. She now lives in London and has published four collections – Breathe Now, Breathe (1995), Silences from the Spanish Civil War (2002), Coastal (2006) and GracelineBreathe Now, Breathe won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection and in 2005 Duran received a Cholmondeley Award.

    Every student in Years 8, 9 and 10 attended two workshops with Jane who really inspired and encouraged them with a range of fun and creative ideas for their writing. In total, an amazing 700 poems were written, all of which contained real poetic gems. This year Jane used poems in translation as springboards for the students’ own work, including works by Szymborska (Poland), Haile (Eritrea), Mohammed Ebnu (Western Sahara)as well as Rimbaud, Neruda and Kaplinski,

    The residency was supported by Modern Poetry in Translation, a literary magazine and publisher which promotes poetry from abroad. The event was funded by the T S Eliot Foundation. We are very grateful to them for supporting this fantastic experience for our students.

    On Monday, 2 July, twenty-five of our students performed their poems to a large and really appreciative audience of Year 10 CSG students. We were also lucky to hear Jane read her own work and the event was hosted by the charismatic poet/ educator, Christian Foley whose feats of memory and verbal velocity amazed us all as he rapped about his grandfather, his grandmother and even created a poem on the spot based on the titles of our students’ poems.

    We are especially grateful to Jane Duran who inspired the students to write the most fantastic and sophisticated poetry, some of which we share with you here.

    Ms Fearnside
    Head of English


    Dreams, inspired by Wislawa Szymborska, Poland

    Pearl, 8M - Suns and Moons
    In my dreams
    I can turn the sea purple.

    In my dreams
    The sun and moon hugged.

    I could move my marble balcony
    Through the clouds and rain.

    I am a corner of sky-scraper
    The whistle of the wind burns my cheeks.

    I am sand in a desert
    Every grain of me, my body moves with the wind.

    Hannah, 8T - I look into the Water
    I look into the water
    And my reflection is a rose

    In the path I walk
    Fire follows behind

    A woman holds me close
    And I remember the sky is falling,

    And I see my younger self
    And ask for a dance.

    Stardust in my hand
    Radiating brighter than the sun

    For a moment I forget
    That this is not the world I live in

    When I sing, the melodies twist
    And the birds and trees come to listen

    I am nearing the walls of Troy
    And I see Apollo with his lyre

    ANTHEMS, inspired by Reesom Haile, Eritrea and Mohammed Ebnu, Western Sahara

    Wasima, 9 - Children of Bangladesh
    I wear my traditional, multi coloured clothes
    With love and modesty
    The heat burns our skin, yet we never give up
    The colours of my country
    Red and green
    Represent the war in 1971
    Red for the blood
    Green for the grass that was stained
    Crimson red from the blood
    For our independence
    People died
    Amar shnar bangla
    Ami tumai bhalobashi

    Tasfia 9M - Anthem for Syria
    Still alive but also dead
    Everything gone, shattered and broken

    Still going
    But every limb of my body is dead

    Still thinking when will things go back to before
    When every vital thing has disappeared

    Still trying to reassure myself every second
    When in reality, any minute I could be gone

    So here we go again
    Still alive but also dead.

    Mahfuza, 9C - My India 
    Jingle, jingle
    As I squeeze my bangles in
    And place my jewels neatly on my skin
    I place my bindi onto my forehead
    And start running

    Jingle, jingle
    I hear my payyals? Ring
    Burst of neon colours are all over Ammaji’s face
    As I am running
    The dry sand tickles my feet
    Jingle, jingle
    My anklets still ring.

    Jewels are sparkling
    In the sunshine
    And a shower of green and blue
    Flickers through grounds of India

    Bright festival colours
    Shoot through the crowds
    And when the gushes of water are poured
    The bright colours of fire
    Run down to my feet.

    And, jingle, jingle
    Our Anklets still ring.

    Vowels, inspired by Arthur Rimbaud, France

    Emma, 8M - Green A, Blue E, Red I, Black O, Purple U
    A, the eye of the poor, dance in deep green water, misty dawns and foggy mornings. The braiding of blades of grass.

    E, the shadow of stone, the marching band drum, the tunnel for blood

    The curtain of the heavens.  The humming of the sea.

    I, eyes of men at 2 in the morning, clashing of minor chords on a piano, a bull charging, an eagle swooping.  A bullet flying,

    O, iris of a shotgun, plucking of a violin, secrets of the world, a death’s awakening. A penitence ball and a vintage life.

    U, fingers of dawn, lips of the night, thrones and playing cards, wine and heart.  Rings around eyes of sorrow and flushes of rain. 

    Evelyn, 9R - Red A, Yellow E, green I, blue U and Black O
    A, as the rose burst out of its leaky prison and as the red moon rises from its slumber.

    E, the butter is churned and the children, adorned in summer garments, play in plains of green blades.

    I, the pond is dredged and the creatures beneath the rippling surface scramble for cover.

    O, a black and white tomcat waits expectantly in the night.  His tail flicks as a fox starts to sing.

    U, the sea-foam sinks into the gravely sands as another wave comes crashing down and the leaves rustle in the frost of the morning.

    Nishat, 9C - Pink A, blue E, purple I, yellow O, orange U
    Strawberry laces, A, sweet and sour coated with sugar

    E, Windows 10 desktop wallpaper, glowing streaks coming out from each corner of the window

    I, the Monster Munch pickled onion packet found in a nearby convenience store, for £1  only.

    Anchor butter, O, with its 30% less fat marketing, and its salty taste (so salty)

    U, the medium size Lucozade bottle that your Dad tells you not to get

    ...but you drink it anyway.

    Ode to the coconut, inspired by Pablo Neruda, Chile

    Layla, 10R 
    At the top
    Of the proud palms
    You come to me
    Fall to my feet
    The soft sands below
    I lift you
    Crack you
    Snap your tender flesh
    Filled with pure milk
    You glimmer
    light embraces your liquid sheen

    Looking at Nature, inspired by Jaan Kaplinski, Estonia

    Lale, 8R - A Morning Garden
    You can feel a wind
    Even through our summer’s knitted jumper
    A soft white light reflects
    So gently on to the green-red tomatoes
    The butterfly hovers over the lavender
    That you can taste on the tip of your tongue
    A bitter taste left from the coffee
    Now sweet like the rose
    You watch as the sun gets higher
    The bumblebee hums
    How soft the sound
    How sweet the honey
    How sweet the morning that leads to evening
    How quickly the time flies by.

    Louisa 8T - My Garden in the Afternoon
    I sit on the coloured deck chair
    And the sun shines over a patch of grass
    My lolly melts; a butterfly rests
    On the hot sticky fruit. A caterpillar
    Chomps away at the laurel tree.
    The ants have begun their motorways
    Through the cracks and crannies of
    The stone floor
    A ladybird elegantly sunbathes, in the
    Freshly trimmed grass.

    Poems about sculptures inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke, Austria

    Alice, 10C - Lady Winchelsea by Lawrence Macdonald (or a question for the lost woman)
    In repose your pensive head is
    Downturned and the contours of your body
    Are still. The curve of you, your collarbone
    Shadows under the skin which is

    Veined with memory, a smooth expanse
    Speaking of antiquity, an erudite
    Distance alluded to, a refinement
    In the swell of your breast and the slope of your hip

    Are you arrayed before a window, an
    ancient summer breeze playing  in the folds of your gown,
    do winter storms cause you to shrink towards  fire?

    Will you speak to me? Your voice is lost
    Gaze gone away across the years
    Look up, so I may see you.

    Aleyna, 10C - Thought by Rodin
    Her blank despair seeped through her stare,
    Like the flowing mist heavily settling,
    Tear ducts glistening from the scarce source of light,
    Stone seems to feel soft.

    In a trance she seems, her skin laced in marble,
    Confined in a cold gaze,
    Angles dissolve into curves
    As her stiffened bonnet hangs loosely about her.

    But seemingly stuck in her own remembrance
    How the cage of rock and jagged edges
    Push and press hard on her chest.

    Constricting her rising shoulders,
    The trail of curves followed by marble,
    Does not remember her empty sorrow.

    Sadie, 10T - The Lewis Chessmen: A Knight
    Perhaps the Knight sits
    On his steed, in quiet resignation
    The once iridescent shine of ivory
    Scarred and bruised, like his heart throbbing

    Clean, simple lines evoke feelings
    Of simplicity. Sharp and smooth, like feelings
    He is made small under spotlights, solitary
    Forever frozen, in infinite dread.

    Maybe he is a returning hero
    People will deify him, an example
    Of courage in the face of vermillion blood,

    But no, his face is now gaunt and untrusting
    Clinging to his spear of death
    Like a string tethering him to earth.

    Daisy, 10T - The Thinker – Rodin
    The brow furrowed in thought:
    The lips, leeching onto knuckle,
    Sweeping the very bone for answers.
    Moulded plaster, intricate to touch.

    Every sinew felt with a single sweep of the palm.
    The sudden stop as the arm bends upwards
    Sends sparks flying. Hand flexed backwards,
    Tightened jaw; every muscle pulled taught.

    The brain pulses, the cogs in the mind
    Slowly grind, like the molars in the back of the mouth.
    Pushed together.

    We are left without context,
    Made to guess; perhaps our own brow
    Furrows as we too become The Thinker.

    HAIKUS, inspired by Japanese poets including the great Matsuo Basho
    Matilda 8R

    How do you get
    To the park, bee
    In this busy city?

    Martha Lucas 8M
    They all ran
    The runner, the child
    The bronze rusted tap

    Shadi 8C
    With what colour
    And what brush would you paint, butterfly
    In this spring breeze?

    Arseema 8T
    She brushes her hair
    With the blue light of the tv
    In the cramped room

    Idil 8M
    She cleans the bedroom
    Watching the sunrise
    From the narrow window

    Maya Rose 8M
    A soft dusting of snow
    Immaculate order
    With footprints leading south

    Rohima 8C
    The days swept past like
    Leaves on the street
    The shopkeeper sweeps

    Ghazals, inspired by Hafez-Persia and by Mimi Khalvati
    Chanya 9M - Milk & Honey
    I drip with silver, molten gold
    And from my mouth comes milk and honey

    I drip with stardust, emerald longing
    And from my mouth comes milk and honey

    I drip with water, liquid crystals
    And from my mouth comes milk and honey

    I drip with white, with blinding light
    And from my mouth comes milk and honey

    I drip with names, and words and letters
    And from my mouth comes milk and honey

    I drip with darkness, it overcomes me
    Chanya has run out of milk and honey

    Elizabeth 10C - I’ll heal
    At night, when it’s quiet, speak slow, and I’ll heal
    When the owls are singing, repeat that sound, and I’ll heal

    By day, when it’s sweet, come close, stay near
    Speak small smoothing words, don’t think, and I’ll heal

    In the forest, restore my leaves, let the birds flutter back
    Step carefully on broken twigs, notice, and I’ll heal

    By the sea, when the tide is high
    Lay me down on the sand
    Let the waves come and go and I’ll heal

    Inside the small rooms, the small worlds
    The incense, the dark light, turn down the light
    And I’ll heal

    In the town, speak to me ‘Elizabeth’ only words I’ll hear
    Only songs you’ll sing, the wren will sing, and I’ll heal.

    Emmanuella 9R - Pen
    I want to write. I want to open the gates of heaven and hell.
    And release all hidden secrets and feelings with a pen.

    I want to spill my mind onto an empty page as a small
    Child knocks over its bucket of water and let the ink blossom over the page with a pen.

    I want to catch the whispers that travel through the night’s wind and
    Dart through the moon’s eye and take them in, capture with a pen.

    I want to steal Hephaestus’ flame which burns in the warmth of the sun
    Sputters and flicks at the hands of the universe and its essence into my pen.

    I want to shed the unshed tears, the anger, the frustration into the
    Stream that flows into a river of blood for my pen.

    I want to dance with my pen, crafted with the dark aluminium in the
    Depths of the earth, echoing through the endless abyss of light from my pen.

    I want to be heard, I want the sun and the stars and the moon and
    All the planets to hear the fierce roar of Emma and the call of my pen.