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Creative Writing and Nature

‘Teaching creative writing to my students has sent their progress out the roof.
Inspiring them to try something different, something new, with reinforce their
passion.’
We welcome you into the Goldsmiths’ allotment creative writing experience. Today we
want you to take a journey into the garden and explore your ability to make your own
art with such beautiful inspiration. We often forget the being creative can be so
fulfilling and that there is no standard that our work needs to meet. Today we will be
going on a journey of the senses. With each new sense, you will be given a short
creative writing exercise to try. Sometimes these tasks may simply be inspirations
that blossom a new wonderful idea, allow yourself to go there. Remember that
creative writing is something that everyone can enjoy, especially as a teacher.
Watching your students express their creativity can be eye-opening, no matter what
subject you are teaching.

Sense: Sight

Activity: Choose any plant to look at. Go from the petals or leaves down to the very bottom of the
plant/flower/tree. Now use your imagination to look beyond that. What is attached to the bottom of this
plant? How are the roots intertwined? What colour is the soil that the roots have to dig through? Are the
roots thin, spiralled, thick or broken in any parts?
You now have two choices: Write a short piece (either a poem or a narratives) about your own roots. Or,
write a story/poem about the journey of the roots in front of you. It may be interesting to use the plant or
the image you have created in your head to come up with a metaphor/simile.

Importance: This is a reflective practice. Creative writing can be used for many different things, one of
them is a powerful reflection. This may be very therapeutic for people or it may be an opportunity to
explore the imaginative side of their mind that we often hide away. Being able to creatively write about our
lives often takes away the fear of becoming too personal. It is also an interesting activity because it makes

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us focus in on nature. It may be very soothing to relate our lives, struggles or beauty to the simplicity of
nature.

Sense: Smell
Activity: Walk around the allotment, taking in all of the senses at this point. Choose a
plant/flower/vegetable/area that interests you. Does it have an interesting scent? What does it remind you
of? Mull this over in your head – can you make any connections to the smell? Perhaps it reminds you of a
childhood memory, a place you once knew, or a familiar experience. It may be that you make no
connections at all and it may be that you start to make new unique ones. Jot some of these ideas down.
Once you have made some connections, you have a choice of two options:
1. Describe your chosen smell as if it were a person – you may want to draw and label to start off, and generate
some ideas. Once you have done so, write a short description of your imagined person. What do they look
like? What are their interests/hobbies/values/beliefs? Is it someone you know or someone new? Remember
to use vivid imagery in your descriptions, think about the language of all the senses at this point, and
language techniques such as similes, metaphors etc.

2. Write a free verse poem about your smell and your experience of the allotment as a whole –
this is up to you!

Importance: We feel strongly about the reflective nature of writing and the benefit it can have, not only in
the creative sense, but also for the personal potential it holds. Writing can be a therapeutic practice – it is
important to let your mind clear and your ideas flow forward. Try as hard as you can to not be self-critical –
it’s easier said than done, but your writing will feel easier and more enjoyable. Throughout the history of
literature nature has held inspiration and guidance for writers and the allotment at Goldsmiths is the
perfect place to find some inspiration!

Sense: Taste

Activity: Students will close their eyes and eat a vegetable- carrot, celery stick, cucumber, lettuce. (2
minutes)
Once they open their eyes they need to jot down descriptive terms to describe taste/ texture of vegetable-
minimum of 10 words. (2 minutes)
They then go on to use a minimum of 5 words to write a free verse poem, that does not directly have to
relate to the vegetables or allotment setting (5-7 minutes).

Importance: The point of the exercise is to make links between poetry and our senses. Poetry is often very
descriptive and can build up an image in our minds, but did you know a lot of poems feature sensory
imagery and is designed to leave a taste in our mouth. Take Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ as an example. We are
meant to taste those ‘bitter twisted lies’ (perhaps we can use tangfastics to achieve this bitter sense).

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Sense: Touch

Activity: The teacher will assign groups where students will have to plant a seed and feel the different
nature elements used in the process. For example, the teacher will instruct the students to dig a hole for
their seed and ask what the soil might represent in their life. The solid could be interpreted as a new
beginning and a safe place where they can grow as an individual. Then the students will be asked to
describe what the elements of water and the bright sun might represent in their own life. For example, the
water and sun given to the seed can be interpreted as the supportive and nurturing individuals in their life
who help them flourish.
Students will then be asked to write a short poem comparing the growing process of their seed to their
own experiences in life.

Importance: The activity will focus on students’ growth and positive mind set which is triggered by the
various textures felt throughout their experience in the allotment. The teacher will have the students
explore the different feelings of the warm sun, wet mud and clear water and how these natural elements
help contribute towards the growth of flowers, vegetables and fruits in the allotment. The activity helps
students reflect upon their own progression in life in correlation to the growth of nature. In addition, the
activity helps develop students’ appreciation for the long and beautiful process plants need to grow in
nature, similarly to the long and beautiful process that they experience when faced with a new beginning.

Sense: Sound

Activity: Close your eyes for 2 minutes – write down at least 5 sounds that you hear.
Create a haiku/limerick/free verse poem from your sounds. We want this activity to be as free as possible
so anything where the students feel like they can really connect with the sounds and create a poem is
wonderful. It is left open purposely for this reason.

Importance: We chose to do this so that people could connect with nature and not have to abide by any
rules. Creative writing it about being free and writing down your thoughts and feelings no matter what
style or form so we really wanted to embody that. Sound is so lucid and unpredictable and you cannot put

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a restriction on it. Being able to write down 5 sounds and present them in a beautiful way is what we felt
would be the best justice for the sense of sound.

Trees, Flowers and Nature
Activity: Take a walk around the allotment, focusing on flowers and the trees. Can you think of the
beneficial properties a flower or tree can have? Choose one or more of those properties – shade of a tree,
the calming rustle of its leaves and branches. Write a free verse poem depicting the flower or tree’s
“healing” properties.
E.g.
The shade protects me from dangers
The hot sun licks at my skin like a thousand whips
But here, the leaves and branches are my refuge

Lavender has a calming soothing effect and aids sleep.
Importance: I have chosen this activity because for centuries man has always found nature to be healing,
whether that be taking long walks in a valley and across peaks and mountains or taking advantage of
nature’s medicinal values to cure disease. It is something that consumerism has thrived on to make a quick
buck but I think it is interesting to think about nature’s beauty in its nature to give back. You could link this
task to science, in all key stages as a fun starter, main task or plenary. You might get students to learn about
the different parts of a flower, plant or tree and come up with a creative piece to remember or revise.

Social Issues
Importance: These tasks are set up to ensure that the students think about the social issues that
surrounded allotments in the early 1900’s in comparison to today’s society. They should be able to
distinguish that there was a shift from the working classes using allotments for sustaining themselves and
having a place that they could spend (as gardens were limited for working class families), to a middle class
fad (kind of). In the past 10-15 years there has been a rise in the interest of allotments particularly in the
middle class as home-grown products became more common. Allotments today are primarily (but not
entirely) rented by middle class families who spend their weekends there growing vegetables for the
family’s dinner.

There will be a focus on how allotments were used throughout history and then comparing that with how it
is used in today’s society both well and neglected plots and why this may be the case sometimes. The
students will be able to write a poem to get them thinking about what allotments are for and why people
seem to be so fascinated by them in the current society.

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Task:
Brainstorm words you would associate
with this picture as well as its location.

Task:
Brainstorm words you would associate
with this picture.
What are the differences between the
two pictures?
What does that suggest about the type
of people who are associated with this
image.

Task:
Write a poem that is based on one (or
both) of these two images concentrating
on the social issues that may surround
them.

Remember that creative writing is supposed to let the inner artist out. You
must not force students to follow these tasks too strictly, simply see where it
leads them.

‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.’ – Anais
Nin

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