I had written a series of poems in which characters were seen through their
gardens; Dave Ward and Matt Simpson started using them for workshops in
schools, rather to my surprise. But they were right. I should have remembered
that any writing game you use for yourself can be used for others.
game had been to decide on mainly fictional characters and invent the detail
of their gardens to reflect character.
Put this simply, children could play by choosing a character that appealed
to them, listing the associated personality traits and objects, and either
converting these into appropriate flowers, trees etc., or describing the
condition of the garden. In many areas it will be useful to begin by
discussing what can be found in gardens.
Although many children will start
by making "lists" these will not usually make interesting poems unless detail
is encouraged, particular ideas explored and an effort made to draw the
listed thoughts together.
Different methods of subject selection have been used. In the original game
players tried to cross a maze with seven exits, marked by greek letters which
were the symbols for subjects - horror, history, someone in a
story, space, animal, etc., and the player chose within that category. The exits have
been renamed to suit the occasion or differently each time. But
for work with groups it may be easier to suggest one category - a cartoon
character for instance.
The poems were usually displayed on paper flowers attatched to a trellis;
when more time was available this became a three-dimensional garden. For
the trellis, a net was used as the base and the flowers and leaves were
stapled to it. The centres of the flowers, which carried the poems were cut
circles of sugar-paper and the leaves and petals , often strangely worked to
represent attributes of the character, were cut from advertising posters. The
garden involved origami, tissue paper sculpture and mixed-media work with
anything from pipe-cleaners and clay to various wires, newspaper and found