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The IW Story Festival and my anxiety

On Friday, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on writing poetry about dragons at the Isle of Wight Story Festival.

However, as I have quite severe social anxiety and get easy overloaded by sensory stimuli – some of the more negative things about being autistic, I was dreading being at the festival and talking to people while I waited for my turn (I went a few hours early, as my partner’s brother was giving a talk on butterflies, which I’m really glad I attended as it was utterly brilliant, but also meant that I had two hours spare until my own workshop).

I ended up hiding in the green room, with other authors and illustrators in there with me, and though they were lovely to meet and listen to, I was so unsettled and not sure what to do that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to say much or eat my lunch until they all left. I also had to wear my ear defenders as the kids attending the festival were shouting excitedly and running around – not a bad thing, as it meant they were enjoying themselves, which is what the festival was all about, but the sound was a little too much for me to handle.

Still, I had a decent amount of kids attend my workshop and they all wrote some brilliant poetry. I wasn’t sure if they were enjoying it much, as it was a quieter workshop than some of the earlier ones, and was very much based on their own creativity, but when we finished, most of them came up to me and said they did. The parents did too, which was nice, and I was even asked to have my photo taken. I also did a giveaway of some of my books, so I was able to sign those, along with some of the bookmarks I had on hand.

Part of the workshop was making a group poem, where I asked the kids to write a single line of poetry, which I then wrote down and, while they were busy coming up with their own individual poems, I used those lines to craft a complete poem. We also voted on a title for it, too. So below is a photo of the completed group poem, made entirely of parts from the lines they gave me. (Apologies for my handwriting, it’s always terrible.)20200223_111600

I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the festival again, as being there has completely drained me (I expect for the next week, as it usually takes a while to recover from events like this), and it weighed so heavily on my mind during the few weeks before it that I couldn’t focus on any other work. But listening to the poems the kids wrote was a really wonderful moment, so I do feel greatly privileged to have had that opportunity.

Poetry

Mother Cosmos

Her skin is made of stars

and swirls of cosmic dust,

her hair as dark as the dark side of the moon.

 

The burning amber of her eyes

gives out the sun’s warm rays,

and her tongue whispers the galaxy’s mysteries

and the history of many a forgotten age.

 

During the day you cannot see her,

for she walks among the clouds,

holding council with Mother Earth,

but at night she rests and lets her gown

sprawl out across the sky.

Poetry

A little tale

Dark lets down its itching feet

to wriggle its toes in the springy grass.

It waves to Moon, who winks her encouragement,

and then it rushes down the hills to dance in the glades,

to leap onto roofs and chimney pots.

All night long, it can be seen merry making,

laughing with owls and chittering after bats,

but after so many hours of leaping about,

weariness rushes over it

and up to its bed it goes, dragging its feet back

under the orange sky.

Poetry

The Noise

It rumbles through bones, teeth and jaws

down to the ground, past all six floors.

Shaking the doors, cracking the windows

disturbing old dears absorbed in their bingo.

They try and try to stop The Noise

offering food, books and free toys,

but the little green ball that resides at its core

simply widens its mouths and screeches some more.

Poetry

Ears

An elephant’s ears are like grey, wrinkled sails

shading the ground for little creatures

who scurry from bush and tree

dragging long, furry tails.

 

A bat’s ears are keen and tune into slight sounds,

hearkening to the call of insects

filling the dark night air

to swarm all around.

 

A parrot’s ears are covered with glossy green feathers

hidden completely from sight,

never hinting when they’re listening

for slight changes in the weather.

 

A hare’s ears are furry but upright,

always on the alert for danger,

ready to respond to the sound of a threat,

running swiftly from a predator’s swipe.

 

Poetry

Down the hall

The hall was hot

with a fiery glow,

great wafts of smoky air

swept towards me with mighty blows.

 

I knew what awaited,

how could I not

have heard of the beast

who occupied this spot?

 

 

Staring at me

through the door’s seam,

I saw two green, glowing eyes

and wings cramped against the beams.

 

My hand shook

as I reached for the knob,

after all, a dragon’s breath

could reduce me to a messy blob.

 

But a beast

shouldn’t be trapped

just because some people think

it’ll eat them for a snack.

 

Bravely, I opened the door,

overcoming my fear

as I stepped right into

its tiny, sparse lair.

 

I braced myself for the worse,

yet the dragon shied away from me.

Then I saw the chain around its legs.

‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘I’ll set you free!’

Poetry

Magic!

I have a ball of magic,

right here in my hand,

and if I wish upon it,

I can create enormous

dunes of sand.

 

Or whole fields of vibrant poppies

that wave to me in the wind,

and I can even make a robot

by magicking together

my collection of used tins.

 

Sometimes I sit and wonder,

‘What do I have this power for?’

Then a flood of ideas fill my head

and all I can think of

is creating more!

 

Poetry

A pensive hound

Snug and warm,

a mass of fluffy black fur

to rest my head against;

my bright-eyed, wet-nosed mentor

lounging in the shade

behind discarded tins of fence paint.

 

A lolling tongue

hangs from her mouth

as she looks up at the sky,

watching a flock of birds ark and swoop,

they dip their wings to her

as they pass by.

 

Poetry

All potted up

I have a little seedling,

it’s just sprouted green leaves,

it waves about in the wind

and makes our cat sneeze.

 

I want to give it a home,

so I’ve found a neat brown pot

and filled it with earth

all the way to the top.

 

I’ll make a small hole

using an old lollipop stick

and put my seedling in it

so the stem grows nice and thick.

 

Then for the important bit,

I’ll need to give it a drink.

I heard rainwater’s best,

not just water from the sink.

 

After that, I’ll have to wait

and care for it with love,

only then will it flower

from its tender buds.