Poetry opening perspectives


Louise Younie, a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Community-based Medical Education at Barts and the Royal London, runs a Journal Club for her colleagues, and Thinking Writing was asked to contribute. Louise writes:          

"This week our ‘journal club’ took a look at education through engagement with poetry. Drawing on Simon Armitage’s poem, ‘Poem’, we read, wrote and discussed ideas around form, content, meaning, judgment etc. Sally Mitchell from the Thinking Writing team guided us through this Sonnet with  a series of exercises alone and in groups to help us engage more thoroughly and collaboratively with the poem. We used free writing, thought about ‘textual intervention’ by changing the gender, the verbs and the final couplet, asked the poem questions, considered what the poem was about etc. This provided rich material for dialogue which we related to our professional and personal lives around judgment, societal norms, accepted behaviours, when to intervene. We ended by thinking about how this kind of educational process might be valuable in practice.

This group session illustrated well how poetry/the arts can be used to engage a group in dialogue around difficult issues, engaging with the values and beliefs which might underpin our practices. Through dialogue and shared perspectives horizons can be shifted and extended, ideas challenged or endorsed. As such this might be a valuable way of developing and extending our student personal and professional development as well as enhancing reflection and self-awareness." 

Chatting with people after the club, we're now thinking of running a few more sessions based around short texts and how we can interpret them, exploring different kinds of prompts to open up dialogue and get thinking. If you'd be interested in joining in, please get in touch.