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Creative Writing Workshops with a Danish Gymnasium

I recently had the opportunity to teach a series of creative writing workshops to students at Herning Gymnasium in Denmark. I feel so fortunate to have been encouraged creatively as a child at primary school (doubtless helping to shape me into the writer I am today), and for me, there are few more satisfying things than encouraging young people to express themselves on paper.

I loved engaging with these Danish students, telling them a bit about myself and my writing and guiding them through some activities in order for them to be able to write their own poems by the end of the workshop.

The standard of the poems they produced completely blew me away. There’s something very interesting about teaching young people who have English as a second (or sometimes third) language. Rather than being at a disadvantage, hearing them share their work I realised that the imagery and language filter is different from native speakers; instead of reaching for those oft-used and sometimes hackneyed phrases, their choice of vocabulary and imagery was fresh, original and unusual.

I’d like to share eight wonderful poems written by some of the students. All of them are between the ages of 17 and 19 and had little experience of poetry writing.

A CLOSET FOR EVERYTHING

By Liva Nönchen Schau

A man carrying everything comes home.

He drops his worn-out briefcase from his hands,

it is too heavy. 

He puts a loud vacuum-cleaner in a closet 

and adds a young apple that has laid for days. 

He puts the sound of overheated work in the closet 

and the sound of sighing in relief too.

He places the smell of old laundry

and two new memories in the closet. 

The man puts the taste of sleep that has filled his mouth for hours in the closet

next to the taste of loneliness,

in his arms he holds the feeling of skin against your tongue,

placing it at the bottom of the closet.

He tries to leave the feeling of being endlessly small and imperceptible too. 

He puts a wish to call for help down – leaving it untouched.

He tries to separate his mom’s name from his eternal longing for silence to put it down. 

The man looks up, asking the closet to hold what he no longer can bear

and the closet opens his arms further to hide everything from the world. 

The man carefully places his heart on the top shelf of the closet, 

letting it feel and letting it feel him one last time. 

Then he closes the closet 

for it to never be opened again. 

There is no silence. 

The man blinks twice, feeling ready for another day

of gathering everything from everybody. 

Apples & Cider | Apple Barrel Cider Mill

NO WAY OUT

By Tobias Larsen

A man filled with the feeling of nothingness

hung his scarf, infuriated, over the door;

threw his hat angrily at the door,

tossed his jacket at the door, but missed it.

He had a bitter taste of something familiar in his mouth and

with all his power he tried to spit the bitter taste at the door.

Outside, he heard the velvety soft sound of the birds chirping;

he yearned to go beyond the door but he knew if he did,

the sound would come to an end.

With that sacrifice, he gave up.

He destroyed the smell of lazy mornings,

replacing it with the taste of liquor.

He lived with the harsh, empty feeling of living alone and isolated.

He wanted so badly to venture beyond the door

and out in the unseen world,

to swim in the bright blue water alongside the fish,

to climb trees with the wild animals of the jungle.

He has seen everywhere, but been nowhere.

He gave all of his frustrations to the door once again;

the door creaked and it sounded as if it shouted Stop! No more.

But the man kept on going and soon it would fall to the floor

and so, he would never be able to go beyond anymore.

Interior Door - Custom - Single - Solid Wood with Walnut ...

GROUND ZERO

By Felix Stigsen

He felt like dust.

A young man feeling timeless laid his head on the ground.

He put his one dollar bill and the rusty letter opener next to the oak tree.

The sound of deer interrupting an old song he laid in the air right above the ground.

He placed the smell of party shells and drinks in front of him.

Beside them he laid the sweet and bitter taste of coffee and cakes.

Replaced the urgent feeling of lull from the heart to the throat.

It felt like it wanted out yet gravity pulled it down.

He laid speculations of his mind in his head on the ground,

leaving others on his hands.

He even threw all of this on the dewy ground,

but the porous sand was unmoved and relentlessly continued,

like all the laws of nature.

But the ground did not like the sun being laid on it.

One Dollar Bill PNG Transparent One Dollar Bill.PNG Images ...

DOLPHINS BY MY SIDE

By Sissel Hansen

I have never experienced the feeling of the air around my body and the adrenaline rush while bungee-jumping, 

but I have been on a boat in Egypt with dolphins by my side in the clear blue water. 

I have never been in the city of light at the top of the Eiffel Tower, 

but I have been handed a fragrant pink tea in turkey because I was blond. 

I have never experienced my breath being taken from me like the feeling you get while skydiving,

but I have seen the beautiful sunburned sunset in Italy. 

I have never experienced the silence underwater while scuba-diving, 

but I have smelled the freshness of the clear water falling down on a rainy Sunday afternoon. 

Dolphin Watching - City of Clearwater - Florida Gulf Coast

PEG OF YOUTH

By Andreas Fisker Damsgaard

A boy filled with the hope of youth

hung his jacket on the peg,

hung his dirty football boots on the peg,

hung the yellowish-green peel

of a banana on the peg.

He hung there

the salty taste of beads of perspiration,

the euphoric sound of jubilant teammates

and the fresh smell of newly-struck grass.

On the peg he hung the soft touch

of the last red rays of the setting sun.

He hung there

all the stars of the sky, the galaxies, the cosmos.

He hung everything and nothing on the peg,

he hung there all his hopes and all his dreams.

The peg had never seen this much load before;

it wasn’t made for it.

It was just an ordinary peg

but it stayed proud. Not once did it creak.

No load was too heavy, no dream too big.

It welcomed the boy

and he kept on giving, for he had his

whole life ahead of him.

Now that’s what I call a peg.

That’s what I call a boy.

galaxy, Space, Stars Wallpapers HD / Desktop and Mobile ...

THE LOYAL TABLE

By Olena Cholovska

He came home at night,

a man filled with anger and sadness.

He hung his coat and hat on a peg,

he laid his sadness and anger in the cupboard.

He put his keys on the table and

arranged the freshly cut roses on the worn-out surface.

He put his bleeding heart next to the roses and

the blood idly filled the tiny depressions of the table.

The stinging rejection he placed there,

the taste of caramel coffee on the roof of his tongue the man laid on the table, 

but the taste could not soften the stinging feeling.

The sight of raging rain outside his window he put on the table,

the smell of her now-so-suffocating perfume he arranged there.

Meanwhile the slimy feelings of anger and sadness had crept up again,

he slammed the destructive anger on the table and

the paralyzing sadness too.

He carefully put her now-so-painful name on the table,

he laid out the softness of her hair.

The man put the things he had inside him on the table,

mostly the ugly and agonizing things;

the beautiful things he wanted to keep within.

He reached out and placed on the table

the deepest and most hideous feelings of all:

loneliness and jealousy.

The feelings which took so much of him,

those which ate him up inside.

He reached out and placed on the table

the talent he possessed:

decision making – it had forsaken him tonight.

The table squeaked as if in terrible pain –

was it fed up?

No, it was a loyal table – it had served him well so many nights before.

The table did not complain,

it understood.

The man kept piling things on.

flowers, flowers wallpapers, red rose pictures, rose ...

BURNING TOBACCO

By Læerke Marie Brunhøj

A woman filled with unhappiness is coming home,

putting down her phone on the counter,

laying her small but heavy bag on the floor,

placing her loved guitar on the counter.

She puts down down the sound of her guitar strumming

and the sound of arguing in the background,

leaving the yelling of people in stores over wearing a mask or not.

She hung the smell of smoke from the cigarette put out hours ago,

leaving the taste of nicotine and burning tobacco in her mind

and the last meal she had, a Thai soup with noodles.

Putting down her thoughts of fake happiness and the fake smile still clinging on her face,

leaving the thought of having to put on a emotional mask hiding her sadness,

leaving the thought of not showing the depression she’s fighting,

putting down the only woman she has ever loved,

laying down the song she has just put out about her family,

putting down the saying We met at the wrong time, I’m sorry,

Leaving the last glimpse of her she ever saw,

the knowledge of never seeing her again and

the fear of not having said the right thing in the last moments.

The counter’s thoughts were of feeling heavy and unstable and almost breaking,

but it held all that had been put on it

and stood strong at last.

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EVERYTHING IS FULFILLED

By Arunchand Suriyakumar

A foreign man comes home;

his appearance was exceptional.

He threw his red pumping heart on the floor in despair,

added his beloved leather gloves to the floor.

He laid down a part of his black, short hair on the floor,

and the moistening feeling of swallowing a glass of water is added.

The sound of the constantly dribbling ball, he put that down too, still in despair.

He placed the feeling of uncertainty sitting in a flight taking off,

he put the last valuable million dollars in his life on the floor and

added the feeling of misery and agony

in despair, because he could swear that the floor was his best friend,

but signs of life were not to be found.

Suddenly, the man’s despondency was obliged

with a short sound of happiness.

The man was now fulfilled.

Dents Womens Leather Gloves, multistrap cuff (size 6.5 ...

I think that you’ll agree with me that these poems are extraordinary, especially as (or perhaps, as a result of) being written in a second language. Congratulations to Liva, Tobias, Felix, Sissel, Andreas, Olena, Lærke and Arun. I sincerely hope that all of them will continue to play around with words, language and poetry.

Do please leave a comment – what did you think of these poems? Which one resonated the most with you?

Rebecca Stonehill

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, compliment it with a post on one young girl’s creative journey with dyslexia; a guest post with a young Indian writer who began blogging at the age of nine & a young Kenyan-Canadian creative who is tackling a lack of mental health awareness one story at a time.

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