So this is where the NaPoWriMo2019 Day 6 prompt collides with some of my teaching. I am currently doing creative writing work with 10-12 year olds in the Cruinniú na nÓG programme sponsored by the Cavan Monaghan Training Board. We are working on story, in the first instance letting their imaginations roam free, then with story based in fact. I’ve started them in group work as a confidence booster and to just observe how they work. True to their age stereotypes, they divided along gender lines for the group work, as I gently nudge them towards skills for individual pieces.
What really has struck me was how the boy’s group immediately began to create a war story. The two girl’s groups could basically be classified as falling into crime/thriller and romance genres, although violence also permeates their stories, too. It’s as if the only narrative in town in destruction. I turned to the teacher at playtime and mused, “How can we change this narrative?” When I talked about this with my husband, saying my little boys were having a war between Cavan and Fermanagh (please no Brexit!), he responded that at that age, inspired by 1950s American telly, he and his friends in Armagh were playing cowboys and Indians. “Of course, we didn’t know then that Colonel Custer was the baddie.”
And, of course, changing the narrative is not exactly in my remit to fit into sixteen hours of classroom time. This is where NaPoWriMo2019’s Day 6 prompt enters my stream of consciousness. ” Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of the possible. What does that mean? Well, take a look at these poems by Raena Shirali and Rachel Mennies. Both poems are squarely focused not on what has happened, or what will happen, but on what might happen if the conditions are right. Today, write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.”
So here is a sonnet to possibility.
I was an anxious child with a mother who had many worries. On many a car journey I peppered her with so many “What If…” scenarios I probably fed her own anxieties.
What if little boys did not toy
with the glamour of war,
the thrill of massive destruction?
What if boys did not deploy
into male avatars,
ComicCon cut-outs of action?
What if they dreamed not of cowboys
as played by movie stars
gunning down Native Americans?
"What if..." - asked by anxious boys,
ones already so scarred,
our small hostages to fortune.
What if we raised boys into men
where peace made them sovereign?
Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.