In August Eleanor ran writing activities with children in the museum to gather content for a poem she subsequently wrote and presented in the story-tent over the course of an afternoon! She read the poem one-on-one and to groups of visiting children (and adults!) For a blog about the work
Here’s the full poem:
This poem was written with ideas and images created by young people visiting the ‘Telling Tales: The Art of Indian Storytelling’ exhibition, World Museum Liverpool, Aug 2013. Children were asked to invent new creatures, half animal and half human, to describe where they lived, what they liked doing also to tell us something important! The poem below includes a range of the responses from the young people and was presented in the gallery, in a story-tent, to visitors 1st Sept 2013.
Liverpool is buzzing with tales come alive,
hanging out in St John’s Gardens on a midsummer’s night.
The children had been dreaming strong and bold.
The tales sit on the steps at the front of the museum,
head in hands, uncertain where to go, –
all of the tales half animal, half human.
They flick long woolly tails, flutter wings
and run like children do all along the walls.
Tall tales rest on the bottom of the steps
stretching their long limbs against the cold stone.
The moon is full, and the night is warm.
“I came from the ocean,” says one woman.
Her silver dress glints, gold hair sparks, brown eyes blink.
“I was under the sea playing with fish bones.”
She shakes a shook of sea-weedy hair,
surprised to be enjoying the unsalted air.
“I came from New Brighton Beach,” says another –
her mermaid’s tail splashing on the sandstone.
“I came from Delemere, from the green of the woods,”
says a lion. ‘I came alone, teleported from my shady home.”
He roars and shakes his mane. A zebra with wings
and a girl’s legs giggles, flaps and flies a lap around the gables.
A butterfly with a boy’s head joins her in a dance
as out from the shadowy side streets sleeping children appear,
walking slowly from the tunnel mouth, out from the station,
out from the routes in from their cosy homes.
A bus without a driver stops in an empty layby.
Children parachute down from apartment blocks,
all gathering on William Brown Street outside the library.
A boy, about ten, in purple PJs is pushed forward by his friends.
He stands on the wall to address the crowd of Tales and children.
“Be quiet,” he shouts, and silence falls.
The moon coughs once. The stars sit on their hands.
All faces turn to him. “I need to tell you something,”
he says clear and loud. “Important things, now listen.”
The children behind him whisper and jostle.
“Go on, tell them,” breathes a girl.
“I have my heart in my head. I can feel all your thoughts.”
“Tell them about dancing, of course and reading, that’s important
and tender loving care and not biting,”
looking straight at the lion.
“Being with our families, helping others.
Tales are you listening?” The creatures nod slow and thoughtful.
A monkey scribbles words into a notebook.
The unicorn scratches ideas into the sand with his horn.
“You must do what good tales do!”
“Make roses,” shouts a boy from the crowd.
“Turn invisible,” says another.
“Save people,” declares a girl.
“Turn everything to chocolate, learn to fly.”
Until everyone is talking at once –
a cacophony of voices imagining the world.
A horse with a lion’s legs flies over the car park.
An octopus in a soap bubble rolls laughing down the street.
“When I was at sea I saw cities float on tides,” sings a merman.
“When I was in a zoo,” cries a zebra, “my cage flew away like a bird.”
A tried pony shakes his head, writes ‘To do’
on the top of his jotter. ‘Imagine more,’ he underlines
as all the children cry –
“Go out into the daylight Tales and do your work!”
With this the rain stutters and the sky shakes hard.
Everyone runs back into the shadows for shelter
and a dozy pigeon on the library roof
nods his head, ruffles his feathers
and shuts his eyes to dream till dawn.
Eleanor Rees, Aug 2013