Games do not simply provide an amusing introduction; they act as a focus,
setting limits to assist concentration; they provide opportunities for
discussion about the subject or form; and in some cases are directly
The games should be seen more as ideas, which can be given a form to suit
circumstances. The game is only a vehicle that moves the player towards
It is important to realise that these games and the writing they
lead to contain as many problems for adults (whose expectations are higher or
more rigid) as for children, and are best presented as fun and recreation
rather than taken over-seriously. After all, however people are encouraged to
write, whatever the starting point, the real purpose is to develop pleasure
and confidence in writing, the real game is the poem, which although often
hard to play, is enjoyable and engrossing.
The workshop games cover a wide range and many can be played in
different ways or to different ends; for ease of access I have arranged them
in four groups:
- Simple starts - games that encourage language play, agility with words.
- Basic craft - games directed to one particular form or aspect of poetry
writing, including rhythm, rhyme and figurative language.
- Dialogue - inner and outer. Games directed to recall of incident and
emotion, to the search for significant detail and precise description,
to encouragement of the poet's own voice.
- Invention - a wide range of theme-based games, not wholly fantasy
or nonsense, to stimulate playful thinking and the ability to connect.
The games were devised over many games and workshops. largely to
introduce skills or ways of thinking about writing that we, as writers,
noticed were lacking and felt were necessary to assist in the making of
For this reason the games are independant of each other, but a step-
by-step programme would need
one or two SIMPLE STARTS,
most of the BASIC CRAFT,
and then at least How Do You See Yourself ?,
Where We're At and
What Do You Think You're Doing from
and several INVENTIONS