The theme for this workshop was Nursery Rhymes. We chose this theme because nursery rhymes represent some of our earliest encounters with language and the language of poetry. We wanted to explore the simple language and form of nursery rhymes to see if they could be developed into something more.
1. Tabloid headlines. We used the headline technique to try to condense the content of a nursery rhyme into a few (well-chosen) words.
BOY RECEIVES SEVERE HEAD INJURY IN FREAK HILLTOP FALL
CAT AND DOG AMUSED BY BOVINE LUNAR GYMNASTICS
ARACHNOPHOBIC GIRL RUNS AWAY WHILE EATING DAIRY PRODUCT
INFANT FOUND ABANDONED IN WINDSWEPT BRANCHES
2. Nursery rhyme mash-up. We took words and phrases from nursery rhymes and stitched them together to make a new rhyme. e.g.
Jack and Jill sat on a wall
In a shower of rain
With silver bells and tuppenny rice
To see a fine lady and three blind mice
3. Choose a nursery rhyme character and imagine yourself as that character, looking back at the events described. Perhaps you could tell the real story to put the record straight.
Or suggest an alternative outcome of a nursery rhyme.
Or write the prequel.
Finally, we went on to look at some thoughts about nursery rhymes:
“Nearly all children have a feeling for rhythm in words, for the delicate pattern of nursery rhymes. Many adults have lost this feeling and, if they read verse at all, demand a far cruder music than that which they once appreciated.” Louis Macneice
“A nursery rhyme shapes your bones and nerves, and it shapes your mind. They are powerful, nursery rhymes, and immensely old, and not toys, even though they are for children.” “But they make no sense!” Summer protested “Ah, well,” said Ben. “Sometimes sense hides behind walls. You must find a window and stick your head right in before you can see it.” Katherine Catmull, Summer and Bird
The final task was to write about our own memories of nursery rhymes? Did you hear them from parents? At school? Read them in books? Perhaps you have memories of sharing them with your own children.
Write about your personal memories of nursery rhymes.