Having delved into the magical world of poetry in Term 3, Year 8 students at Glen Waverley were well primed for a lively poetry workshop presented by the Complete Works Theatre Company earlier this term. Exploring a range of Australian poetry from bush ballads to First Nations and slam poetry, the workshop was divided into three sections.

The wheels come off 'Mulga Bill’s Bicycle' during the poetry workshop

First up was a hilarious and energetic performance of two ballads, Banjo Patterson’s Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and Henry Lawson’s Past Carin’. These early Australian poets aimed to give voice to the landscape and characters from the bush. Using costumes, props and their own expressive skills, the three actors of the company convincingly brought these narrative poems to life, helping students understand how rhyme, rhythm and structure can tell a story.

Our Year 8s were then guided through a process to devise their own poems based on Australia’s unique landscape. Experimenting with various sound devices, focusing on imagery, and composing one line at a time, they produced some sophisticated ideas and images.

To finish off, the actors performed some slam poetry. This is expressly written for performance, and a popular way to engage teenagers. They demonstrated how rhythm, improvisation, word play, and slang can be used to tell a story, express emotions and contest ideas - a complete contrast to the formal structures of poetry from the past.

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