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Poetry and Teaching

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools  through Protocol Education in Manchester

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Poetry and Teaching

Teaching can be inspirational even if you only inspire yourself.

I’ve always enjoyed fiction and poetry writing and still harbour quite unreasonable literary ambitions despite my advancing years and patchy-to-the-point-of-baldness publication record. I blame it on a mixture of arrogance and over-exposure to the novel at an impressionable age. I recall the local librarian letting me take out Stephen King’s Pet Cemetary, Murder at the Bertrams Hotel and a number of Sweet Dreams romances at the age of eight. I told her I had a sick uncle who enjoyed reading in hospital. She must have thought that he was very sick indeed. I remember her Paddington Bear stare firming up, as I threw in a couple of Famous Five books, apparently for my own consumption. 

As I suspected when I took up supply teaching, it’s a really great fit with writing ambitions. The hours are pretty good. If you mark hard during your lunch and playtimes, you can beat the traffic as you scurry home to the desk. If you need time off to attend a literary event (you might need to get an early train to the Booker prize ceremony, for example, or have your hair straightened in a salon before an appearance on The Late Review) then supply work gives you that flexibility! Also, as I am an NQT, the pay’s not that great. Whoever heard of someone with no money worries, making it as a writer of literary fiction?

Actually, what I never banked on was the inspiration that teaching has lent to my own writing. I had expected the two to flow alongside each other without touching. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because teaching and writing are so utterly absorbing but in completely different ways. The latter is solitary, painstaking, often untroubled by outward events and at worst solipsistic. The former is sociable, easily diverted by up to thirty small people, and at its worst, a kind of blustering extrovert stand-up act.

During school holidays, and occasionally at dinner times, I’ve written poetry, which is inspired by teaching. My poem, Chocolates for Colonel Gaddafi was written in a staff room and appears in the new edition of Poetry Review -  there’s a link to the poem on their website. At the launch of the magazine, I read my poem and afterwards was approached by a grand old lady with a great white fluff-puff of hair. She leaned in and poked me on the arm, saying,  ‘You so look like a teacher dear. You can’t have been anything else.’ I got my own back though. I fixed her my most professorial stare and said, ‘takes one to know a retired one.’

More Blogs:

Surviving Year 6 by Amy C

Great Things about Daily Supply by Amy T

Sweating the Small Stuff also by Miranda


Tags: Miranda, Supply Teacher, Teach in Manchester, Poetry, Protocol Education, Primary School

Category: Australian Teachers


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