This week we focused on writing and exploring poetry. We were asked by the charity Porch-light to write a poem about the homeless. To get inspiration for this poem we went out into the streets of Canterbury to see and ask some homeless people a few questions so we could find a direction to write our poem.

Voice, Tense, Style and Word Choice:

Poetry enables a person to use a lot of different poetic devices across the poem to get different meanings out through the choice of words. Voice allows a narrative to be created, tense tells the reader if it’s a reflect piece or a poem set in the present. Style is the way a poem is written, in the case of poetry it could be a sonnet or a ballad. Word choice is the writer using certain words to create a specific image or feel in the poem.

We looked at a poem by Fran O’Hara called ‘Having a coke with you’:

Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

-Frank O’Hara

You can see that this poem uses certain words to create an image for the reader, this also allows the reader to understand were O’Hara is coming from and just how much love he has for the person he is writing about. Plus O’Hara shows a very strong example of tense because of the talk in which he reflects on a trip the pair took together creates an image but also makes it clear that it’s in the past. The voice in this poem is also very clear because of the repeated word ‘my’ that tells the reader that he is the talking about his love for another.

This poem allowed us to write are own version based of the original.

Having an Iced coffee with you

is more amusing than taking a trip to Dubai, Jamaica, Rome

or water skiing in the Indian Ocean

mostly because of your blonde hair shining in the twilight sun

mostly because of the ache my heart feels for you

mostly because to believe that when I’m with you

you’re all I see

and to believe that

is to believe that we are only mortal souls

My poem is shorter but I think it still express the same emotion that O’Hara was expressing. I kept the similar opening with keeping the country element, but to differ from O’Hara I made mine more descriptive with how loving the person is towards the other. Mine also takes a bit of darker tone to O’Hara because my choice of words towards the end are more thoughtful, meaning it makes the reader think more about the possible meanings of the poem. If I were to continue with my poem than I would have gone more in-depth about the feelings and narrative to give the reader a stronger idea of the style.

Line and stanza divisions, Rhythm and rhyme:

Rhythm and rhyme is a beat that a poem has, such as the words could create a rhyme because of their similar endings. A rhyme can be produced using the correct words in the correct syntax to then have a common beat to it. Stanza and line division is how a poem is structured.


A piece we did to explore this technique was to write our own version of Frank O’Hara ‘Ava Maria’, after reading and exploring the idea and meanings behind it.

Ave Maria
  Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies
get them out of the house so they won’t
know what you’re up to
it’s true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by
silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you
they won’t hate you
they won’t criticize you they won’t know
they’ll be in some glamorous
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or
playing hookey
they may even be grateful to you
for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
and didn’t upset the peaceful
they will know where candy bars come
and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before
it’s over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment
is in the Heaven on
Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
oh mothers you will have made
the little
so happy because if nobody does pick
them up in the movies
they won’t know the difference
and if somebody does it’ll be
sheer gravy
and they’ll have been truly entertained
either way
instead of hanging around the yard
or up in their room hating you
prematurely since you won’t have done
anything horribly mean
except keeping them from life’s darker joys
it’s unforgivable the latter
so don’t blame me if you won’t take this
and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in
front of a TV set
movies you wouldn’t let them see when
they were young
Frank O’Hara 

You can see that this poem is trying to get the point that you shouldn’t shelter your children from all the bad parts and should allow them to be themselves and not be afraid of that. Plus with the many references to the American culture its trying to tell the reader that you shouldn’t teach children that they have to be this cultural standards, but rather just be who they want to be. O’Hara gets this point across but not only referencing the American cultural but repeating the word ‘they’ creating a very simple link to the children.

We wrote our own version of this but rather than it being aimed at American mothers, we wrote ours at British parents.

Mothers of Britain,

Let your children have independence

Because as they grown,

You also do.

But don’t allow them to much freedom

Just enough that they learn wrong from right,

But not enough that they forget about you.

Let them go to that party,

Let them get drunk for the first time,

Let them regret it.

For if you shall not,

And do everything for them,

They might take life for granted,

Spending their time watching that terrible reality TV show.

Rather than living their own life’s.

For sometimes children have to see the worst to see the best.

You can see that mine is a more modern take on the poem by using references based around today’s media cultural. Plus mine is also more aimed at how independence is something every child should have, however its more aimed towards the youth rather than younger children. But I still kept it with the idea of using the relationship between a mother and a child rather then a father and a child. More so O’Hara did not just focus on the child but also the mother which is something I tried to convey by writing the fact that both age. Overall I think this piece express all the meanings and ideas I wanted it to do, if I were to maybe re-write or continue with it then I would have done a wider use of cultural references and also use more of O’Hara techniques.


Descriptive Writing: Imagery, metaphor and figurative language:

This week we were commissioned by the charity ‘Porchlight’ to write a poem to create awareness about the homeless. To get inspiration for this we first went out to the streets of Canterbury town to get ideas for our poems based around some of the conditions the homeless in Canterbury have to live in. What we found was that most were outside banks, had a dog and few old blankets. Using these as well as some notes based on senses, we wrote poems.

No home beckons for him to return,

His only home is the porch of the bank.

Until the sun rises,

Waking the lonely man from his escape,

From dreaming.

The day break means another day of hoping and pleading,

Another day of shaking from the cold winter,

Another day of going hungry

Another day of being ignored.

Of being forgotten.

You can see that the poem uses some of the notes I wrote, specifically the one about seating outsides the banks, I did this because I wanted to make it more realistic. My poem is aimed more towards one specific person rather than every homeless person, however with my choice of words and imagery it creates an image that is shared across most people’s idea of the homeless. I tried to use emotive language in my poem to make a clear image that it’s a grim and horrid life to be homeless, which is why I chose to use the word ‘forgotten’ to end the poem because its thought provoke and keeps a lasting image.

This week we also looked at  metaphors. A metaphor is when you state that an object or subject is something else. John Green writes a very strong metaphor in his book ‘The fault of her stars’:

“It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”

This metaphor is refereeing to a cigarette and how the boy never actually lights it. Getting inspiration from the metaphor I was able to write my own. Mine was based around using factory for education, the other was education for religion.

The factory floor filled with students using machinery as the boss overshadowed the workers.

Focusing on the subject at matter, the knowledgeable teacher stood  as he preached his idea to the young worshippers.

You can see that my first metaphor uses the idea of working at a factory to school, the machinery is refereeing to textbooks and stationary. The boss is really the teacher watching as the students work. The other metaphor is using religion as a metaphor for education. Preached linking with faith and worshippers connected with believes who praise their religion and God.


  • Green, J. (2012). The fault in our stars. 1st ed. Dutton Books. Accessed on: 18th November 2016
  • O’Hara, F. and Allen, D. (1971). The collected poems of Frank O’Hara. 1st ed. New York: Knopf, p. Ave Maria. Accessed on: 14th November 2016
  • O’Hara, F. and Allen, D. (1971). The collected poems of Frank O’Hara. 1st ed. New York: Knopf, p. Having a coke with you.  Accessed on: 14th November 2016