Oral and performance poems from different cultures
by Carol Ann Duffy, Helen Taylor and Gillian Clarke
Performance poems are poems specifically written to be performed out loud by an individual or group. How they look on the page is not as important as how they sound!
Here is an anonymous poem from the Caribbean:
A mosquito one, a mosquito two,
A mosquito jump in the old man shoe,
A mosquito three, a mosquito four,
A mosquito open the old man door.
A mosquito five, a mosquito six,
A mosquito pick up the old man sticks.
A mosquito seven, a mosquito eight,
A mosquito open the old man gate.
A mosquito nine, a mosquito ten,
A mosquito biting the man again.
This is a simple and lively poem for the whole class to learn and perform. Clap hands on the word “mosquito”. Hold up fingers to show the numbers in the poem. Devise simple actions to go with the actions in the poem. Ask the class to contribute ideas for the performance of the poem.
Here are some books mainly by Black British writers or writers of Afro-Caribbean origin.
The Calypso Alphabet by John Agard (Picture Lions, 1993)
Can I Buy a Slice of Sky, Poems from Black, Asian and American Indian Cultures ed. Grace Nichols (Blackie, 1991)
A Caribbean Dozen, ed. Agard and Nichols(Walker, 1994)
Celebration Song by James Berry (Hamish Hamilton,1994)
Duppy Jamboree and other Jamaican Poems by Valerie Bloom (Cambridge, 1992)
Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah (Viking,1994)
A World of Poetry ed. Michael Rosen (Kingfisher,1994)
The Street Wise Kid by Lorraine Simeon (Blackie,1993)
An excellent thing to plan and budget for would be the visit to your school by a performance poet. Why not contact The Poetry Society at 22 Betterton St London WC2H 9BX/ email firstname.lastname@example.org/Tel 020 7420 9880 for details of how to arrange and finance a visit?