Teaching Poetry
The ever wonderful Kaz Mahoney asked me the other week if poetry can be taught. 


In my opinion yes, and a little bit no.


If you are a storyteller you can be a poet. If you have a good imagination you can be a poet. If you love words you can be a poet.


Once you have the building blocks (imagination, curiosity and empathy) of storytelling I believe that you can apply it to any medium.  The methodology of writing poetry is something that can be learned, either with a great teacher or by a lot of personal study. 


As with any form of writing, the key is reading. Finding what you like and what you dislike and figuring out why. Seeing what brings out strong emotions, or what makes your eyes glaze over. If you're reading a poem and start skipping or flicking pages you know the poet's not doing it right. Try and see where you lost interest and why. If you keep re-reading the same poem have a look at what captures your interest and what you most remember about it that pulls you back to read again.


But...


I personally don't think that you can teach anyone to be a storyteller. That doesn't mean that I don't think you can learn to be a storyteller. 


Imagination is a strange thing. The idea of it being either nature or nurture brings up problems. If we are born with the creativity to tell stories then that cannot ever be learnt. If it is something that is built into us as we grow up then it's hard to learn but not impossible. Which is it? I don't know. 

I grew up an only child with two parents who loved poetry. I read every bit of poetry I could and when I was about six I started writing it too. I became a storyteller to expand my world, the stories I created made my life more exciting. There was a whole universe contained within a hollow tree. My storytelling has always been there, perhaps that is why I believe that it can only be learned never taught, because it's something that seems to happen whether you want it to or not.


I want to believe that storytelling can, and will, be learned by people of all ages and at all stages of their lives.


I think if you want to learn to write poetry then you can - and if you want to do it then nothing's likely to stop you.


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