Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Creative Poetry Writing

Creative Poetry Writing

Author: Jane Spiro Publisher: Oxford University Press. Material consists of : Book for teachers Creative Poetry Writing is an “ideas” book for teachers who want to introduce or develop poetic writing skills in their teaching programmes. It is a thorough and well-organised text with plenty of useful examples which have a lot of scope for […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Karen Thomas

Author: Jane Spiro
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Material consists of : Book for teachers

Creative Poetry Writing is an “ideas” book for teachers who want to introduce or develop poetic writing skills in their teaching programmes. It is a thorough and well-organised text with plenty of useful examples which have a lot of scope for scaffolding illustrating the techniques.

A wide-range of activities are covered – starting from sound and then moving onto word level and different sentence types. The activities are designed to encourage students to experiment with sound and rhythm, as well as word choice. Every activity has useful examples, from students as well as published poets.

As I said, Creative Poetry Writing is an “ideas” book – a “how to” book for teachers who might want to incorporate aspects of poetry into their teaching programmes or to develop poetic writing skills. It is aimed at junior/senior high school and tertiary levels but could also be used for adults or adapted to use with lower levels. It is essentially a “comprehensive guide” to many different activities and methods to teach and develop poetry skills.

The activities are introduced clearly and well, with clear steps. Ideas can be adapted to suit your own areas of interest or especially for particular students and can be adapted for various levels. There is also a lot of scope for personalization.

The gradual progression from sounds to words to more complex sentence structures was very good. Topics and areas covered were also useful, e.g. sound, wordplay, word-mixing, sentence patterns and time poems.

I particularly like the activities which encouraged students to experiment with sound and rhythm and the wide range of activities presented in the book. Some good activities included “Write my country” – a shape poem that looked at the language of describing places and experimented with the shape and layout of words.

I think that although the content and organization of the book were great, some improvement to the design of the book would be useful. For example, extracts from poems on the contents pages would make it possible to “see” some of the examples as well as read and cognitively understand them.
Also, I feel the excellent content of the book would be better served with a more “visual” and a little less “word-based” design. For example, including more visual elements in the design, such as colour and other variations in layout and design would make the book more appealing to users by making it more inviting and user-friendly.

I would recommend this book for high school English (ESL/EFL) teachers and for teachers of tertiary students or adults. I think this book has many useful ideas and straightforward, easy-to-use approaches to develop students’ skills in using and better understanding language.

Reviewed by Karen Thomas for Teflnet January 2009
Currently working as a Corporate Trainer, Karen Thomas has considerable experience in ESL/EFL high-school, adult-learning and private language school environments. Key areas of interest are developing writing skills for a variety of purposes and building understanding and awareness of the skills required for doing business in the ESL context.

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Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Creative Poetry Writing