Poetry with Matt Abbott

Matt Abbott is a poet, educator and activist from Wakefield. His collection A Hurricane in my Head was published by Bloomsbury in July. He's an ambassador for Eureka! The National Children's Museum and has recently starred in a TV ad for Nationwide Building Society.

In each of these videos he shares one of his poems and describes activities for writing a poem on a similar theme.

Poem 1. Sensory places

Write a poem about a place without ever saying where it is, but in a way that the reader will be able to guess. Don’t be obvious about it: focus on using sensory language to describe it imaginatively!

Download the sensory poem ingredients worksheet

Poem 2. Playful rebellion

Write a poem channelling playful rebellion! Which tasks do you really hate doing, and why? How far would you go to avoid doing these tasks? Obviously telling lies is naughty and wrong, but in poems like this it can be a great source of humour and playful mischief.

Poem 3. Items of clothing

Write a poem about an item of clothing which means something to you and is a part of your identity. Maybe it’s that hoody which is comfier than a cuddle? Or maybe it’s that pair of lucky football boots which you always manage to score in.

Here are some suggestions from Matt to help you get started:

  • When your favourite hoody kept you snug as a newborn baby whilst we watched the fireworks.
  • When you nervously fumbled with your school tie for the first time.
  • When your favourite pair of trainers pressed against your toes and lost their comfort.
  • When your football shirt welcomed you to a family of thousands in the stadium.
  • When your favourite pair of jeans got another rip after you fell in the play area.

Poem 4. Remarkable lives

Write a poem which celebrates somebody remarkable in the pupils’ lives. This is all about championing the everyday over fame and fortune: maybe they drive you to practice or cook your favourite meals or tell you stories…?

Here are some suggestions from Matt to help you get started:

  • Your teacher grinning enthusiastically as you give them a brilliant answer.
  • Your best friend comforting you tenderly when you're feeling down.
  • Your mum singing joyfully as you walk hand-in-hand to the park.
  • Your dad dancing jaggedly to that ancient song on the radio.
  • Your coach flapping their arms wildly as they dish out instructions.

Signed copies of A Hurricane in my Head are available to purchase from Matt’s online shop.

Find out more at mattabottpoet.com or follow him on social media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube