POETRY_WORKBOOK


Dialogue :
The Moving Mirror Show/ How Do You See Yourself?

These games both invite recall of personal experience. The Moving Mirror Show was a collaboration between the Project and Radio Doom, who specialised in audio/visual events. The poems arose entirely through one to one interviews with older teenagers about their feelings about themselves and their lives, which developed from an introductory exhibition of reflected images and led to a final product of a video.

How Do You See Yourself? was the Project's simpler version. In it the game helps to narrow down the possible subject matter by determining topics to focus upon (slowly when played on the board, swiftly with the quiz) by means of the cards collected in play. As with the pictures in City of Poems, the words (e.g. blood, dream, tear) on the cards are open to the players' interpretation and do not themselves provide the subject, which is discovered by the players choosing from their cards that one which means most to them, that they "see something in", relate to.

The original board game version of How Do You See Yourself? is too long and complicated for group use. This shorter version retains the spirit of the original but can be played with large groups. The original game was a grid pattern and as players landed on an intersection (there were 33 intersections) a question was asked and the answer selected decided the colour (there were 6 colours) of the card they would recieve and also the next path. For this paper quiz only red, yellow and blue cards are used and the questions are the same for everyone.

Players are asked to circle one of the three choices available in each question, and are told that the choices are preferences and they must choose one. With younger groups it is advisable to read the questions and choices out loud, to prevent players falling behind and to explain any difficulties.

When the players have finished they are asked to count up the number of circles in each of the three vertical columns - left, centre and right - and to write the totals at the bottom of each column. The totals should add to twelve. The players are then given cards corresponding to the three totals - yellow for column one, red for two, blue for three. Since twelve cards slow the game, each total is normally divided by two with no remainder, which gives most players five cards.

In the board game players were encouraged to take a broad view of the cards, which included words of a symbolic nature, but for speed and simplicity the words on the cards for this version are all obviously related to everyday events and actions. This allows the player to be asked simply to choose one card because it reminds them of something that happened to them or of an event that made them feel a particular way. This incident becomes the subject for the poem, which can be developed both by description of place and action and by consideration of thoughts and feelings.

The discussion about the word they have chosen, asking how, when and in what circumstances they came to have that experience or feeling will allow the subject, and often much of the poem's actual content, to emerge. As in most of the games, this discussion of possibilities is important, the point of an incident, the cause of a feeling, may not be evident at first, and the oral explanation a player makes in discussion will help them think aloud.

Sympathetic questions will encourage openness and it is important to remain neutral when dealing with less creditable topics. It also helps players if you ask them to recall small precise details and speech, including what they said to themselves or overheard.

The quiz questions and the listed words for cards can easily be revised to suit a specific theme. This has not proved difficult in the past, nor has oral presentation of the questions, and the lists of questions and available words can be quite short. However it seems important to retain the spirit of `magazine test-yourself' quizzes or fortune-telling so the players believe their `true selves' are being divined or defined which encourages openness and relevation.

After the poem at most playscheme workshops the player's silhouette was drawn on a large sheet of paper, held on a sheet of plastic `glass', using strong light and shadow. The silhouettes were either mounted on a black frieze with the poems displayed underneath or used as the basis for collage artwork on individual sheets or mobiles which also carried the poem. Multiples of the same head cut from different types of paper, including hoarding posters, gave striking results. At Carr Mill Youth Centre the silhouettes were also used as the basis for a large mural along the corridors, featuring the players and the ideas contained in their poems.

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under DIALOGUE in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009