Bringing poetry into young lives
After a quarter of a century teaching abroad eminent Kiwi poet Amanda Eason has returned home to share her passion for language with Auckland school children.
The Mt Albert resident recently returned from a 25-year OE where she spent most of her time teaching poetry to primary school students in London.
During that time Mrs Eason has become a distinguished and recognised poet, publishing four collections of her own work and contributing to countless other books, magazines and radio broadcasts.
She now wants to use that literary experience to teach young Aucklanders the art of creative and poetic writing.
The 53-year-old is offering schools a day of her time to run creative writing workshops for children aged 10 and older.
Mrs Eason says creative writing teaches students to develop their voice on the page, something which is important for their future schooling.
‘‘They will learn a skill that will help them get higher marks in any subject if they have to write something down.’’
Mrs Eason has approached a number of Auckland schools including Onewhero Area School in Tuakau.
Sally Pendergrast is a specialist English teacher at the school and says Mrs Eason’s experience as a teacher and poet would be invaluable.
Although creative writing is taught in New Zealand schools Mrs Pendergrast says it is sometimes crowded out by other subjects.
‘‘Often teachers teach in crowded curriculums and so it’s really difficult to foster that creativity.’’
She says dedicated creative writing workshops with an accomplished poet could really inspire students.
Patumahoe School principal Rob Gordon is also supportive of having a poet in school.
He says the workshops could particularly benefit male students.
‘‘Boys are not fluffy writers – they’re gritty. Often in poetry boys can be really expressive.’’
Mrs Eason first discovered a love for poetry while studying for a Bachelor of Arts at Auckland University.
But it was not until she found herself in a small mountain village in Spain as a 24-year-old that she really had a chance to develop her passion.
‘‘We had five months there and there was a typewriter so I just started writing.’’
Almost three decades on she concedes poetry can sometimes be a hard sell but says there is more to it than simply learning to write.
In the past, Mrs Eason has made a point of encouraging students to read their poems aloud so they develop the confidence for public speaking – something she says many people struggle with.
‘‘When men are getting married, often something that should be the happiest day of their life is one of the most distressing because they are terrified of speaking,’’ she says.
Mrs Eason has already approached a number of Auckland schools but is keen to pass on her passion for poetry to as many children as she can.
‘‘To develop the imagination of a 10-year-old is important,’’ she says.
‘‘If you don’t develop the imaginations in children, you can’t expect to have imaginative adults.’’
Poetic passion: With almost 30 years experience as a poet Amanda Eason now wants to volunteer her time to teach creative writing in Auckland schools.