Having a Lovely Time Writing

Teacher Resource: How to Organise a Successful Poetry Week part one

Top tips from some top poets!    

Great Poets!


  1. Book a poet that fits the purpose of your poetry week – for instance, do you want a themed week? If so, you may want to consider booking a poet who specialises in writing about a particular subject such as Liz Brownlee who is a poet who specialises in writing poems about animals. http://www.poetlizbrownlee.co.uk/site/poems
2.  Book well in advance as many writers are booked up months in advance so you really need to plan ahead – particularly if you want the visit to coincide with National Children’s Book Week in October, with National Poetry Day, Everybody Writes Day or with World Book Day.
3. It is clear that a lot of preparation needs to go into organising a poetry focal point for your poetry week – things to do: Decide which poems you want on display, type up so the poem is easy to read from about 2 metres away and laminate. Once poems have been laminated, use blue tac and put them round the room. Discuss poetry choices with the poet visiting as there may be some poems that they wish to save to perform to the children and would rather they had not read before.


4. Create areas that allow children to be interactive with the poems and where they create poems. At the We Love Poetry Exhibition there were poem jigsaws, opportunities to create poem badges as well as to write your poem for the Poet Tree. So you’ll need to make sure all the resources are either purchased or made well in advance. You may want a wicker Poet Tree like Liz Brownlee had at the exhibition or you may wish to make a backdrop for a themed poetry write.    

5. If you are hosting a week of events you might want to use one poetry workshop for a selected few children who will then go back to their classes and can ‘cascade’ what they have to their peers and the poetry they wrote in the workshop with the poet can be the stimulus for writing for their peers. If the poet is visiting again at the end of the week the children could present some of their work from their workshops with their peers.  

One poet who is a regular visitor in schools gives this advice : Couple of things I’d mention, as one who goes into schools, relate to the treatment of their visitor (so many teachers/heads/secretaries don’t seem to know how to behave as a hosts to visitors – basic good manners) i.e. Offer your poet a cuppa and show them where the loo is when they arrive – they may have come a long way. Don’t keep them waiting ‘with the moms and grizzling babies’ in the vestibule, feeling like an unwanted spare part and juggling boxes of books and props. Don’t spread them too thinly across one day – or expect them to rush from one reading to a writing workshop to a performance in different rooms, with no time to breathe, let alone arrange any props. Do provide a glass of water. I could go on, but you catch my drift … Sorry if that all sounds negative; many schools are lovely, but there are just a few who seem to forget their manners.  

Celia Warren touched on the subject of visiting writers in her ‘How to improve your children’s writing’ books for Scholastic – so you might want to have a peep in those to see the sort of things she has talked about for further inspiration.  



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