Young poet;English lesson by Tom McKee

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
English Lesson

In this funny and witty poem Tom McKee holds a mirror up to all of us who teach English, indeed anyone who has tried to communicate with what Peter Benton calls "3B on a wet Wednesday". I am assured by Tom's teacher that he had not read it before composing "English Lesson", but it reminds me a lot of Michael Rosen's monologue ("with noises off") "Dinner Hall" in the Poetry Society's "Comic Verse" booklet sent out to all schools last October.

Monologues are a highly effective way of writing "funny" verse because they force the reader to guess the other half of the conversation. What gives "English Lesson" its energy is that there are two conversations going on in this classroom: one to do with poetry, the other with behaviour. And well done to Tom for saving the best joke till last.

ENGLISH LESSON

Homework please. Where is it?

Okay, tomorrow then. Okay, good.

You two, stop giggling.

Page 81, come on, hurry up, Somebody to read? I will then.

How many metaphors?

And the main clause is? That's right.

I have already told you two, Be quiet!

Who spotted a simile, Line 12? Good lad.

This is your last warning.

So we have metaphors, similes, the main clause.

Any alliteration or onomatopoeia?

Right you two, Bloodybratsbugger off!

Get out.

Before I rap this ruler over your knuckles so hard The sting will feel like a red hot poker.

So who got the alliteration?

Tom McKee, aged 15, receives 'Emergency Kit', edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Submitted by Jane Whiter, The Village College, Swavesey, Cambridge, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems to 'TES' Young Poet, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Anthony Wilson is Poetry Society poet-in-residence for primary education, and the author of 'How Far From Here Is Home?' (Stride) and co-author of 'The Poetry Book for Primary Schools' (Poetry Society)

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