The Fat Damsel presents a very, very special edition.
The Fat Damsel, Jane Burn, was asked by Take Ten’s regular editor Catherine Ayres to run a workshop at the school that Catherine teaches at. I was so moved by the work that the pupils came up with – it was such a privilege to work with them and to have helped them produce the poems below. I read them with a lump in my throat, I really did! A truly humbling and emotional experience. I would sincerely like to thank Catherine and the kids for having me, and thanks for typing them all up so I can proudly publish them here. A special feeling. Catherine writes…
In July, Jane came to St Paul’s Middle School in Alnwick, to run a workshop during my creative writing class, which I run for pupils in Years 7 and 8 (12 and 13 year olds). There was much excitement. Some kids had already met Jane (‘she’s got a TATTOO, Miss’), when I took them to see Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby perform ‘Reforging the Sampo’ at Guidepost Social Club a few months ago. Some kids had never met her but had heard all about her; the Guidepost night had gained legendary status among Year 8s as The Best Night, like, Ever.
Jane gave the pupils a guided prompt in ten stages. At first they were shy and a bit awkward, scared of doing it wrong, or writing too many personal things. But they were soon well away and by the end of the hour, they were desperate to share what they’d written and asking Jane about line breaks. The next day one mam stopped me to ask when we were doing poetry again because her daughter had come home ‘buzzing’.
These are the poems they wrote during the workshop.
Dry out the dark
and come new with bright colours,
like clothes on a washing line.
Come vivid like a peacock
and show proud your feathers of glory.
Come soft like sunlight and roses
and emit pleasure all round.
Come firm like stiff suits
and withstand the treacherous winds.
Come with hope
so that you will never be a fallen star.
Come like moss
and turn up in dark places.
Come like an angel
so you can see the light in everybody
and come constant like the flowers in Spring.
By Lucy Miller-Trotter, 13
I am feeling exotic,
I am feeling more exotic than the sun’s rays
when they dance down to earth.
Exoticness rapidly rushes through my blood
when I slowly cruise down an escalator.
It sounds like the music played
when my grandma completed the limbo.
Exoticness is like a multi-coloured spectrum
that flows through the sky.
Boredom is what dances around in the
clouded mind of a child.
Boredom is like an empty void,
it vigorously draws people in.
I’m sorry I didn’t take the last cookie from the jar.
Who dare is who wins.
I wish I was a toilet
Everything I do wrong would be flushed away.
I’m feeling exotic,
more exotic than a glass elevator
that slyly moves up and down.
By Guy Leonard, 13
The banging makes my head spin and my heart sink.
The bright yellow blinds me with pain.
It comes and goes.
The drums of my life are being hit too hard.
My city is full of art and statues that have been merged.
No one cares.
Everyone is free and happy.
It must be karma.
I am an outlaw.
I wish I was someone else,
just anyone would do,
but I can’t escape.
My pain is growing with the darkness.
It can see a light.
I touch it.
The end comes.
The banging stops.
My head is still,
my heart is lifted.
I am free.
Heaven is here.
By Catherine Dunne, 12
I feel like a burning sun,
gazing down on the world.
It is a yellow butterfly,
burning bright in a dark cave.
It flies when I am having fun,
lightening up a darkened sky.
It chimes as a golden bell,
joyous and bright.
It’s small but comforting,
a glow of joy.
Rain pounding on the window,
trying to put out the flame.
I’m sorry for letting the darkness in,
seeping through a crack in my door.
I wish I was a bird,
free of cage to show my joy.
I shall fly.
I’ll let happiness burn through the sky.
By Libby Payne, 12
Lost between worlds
from me drip the colours of the rainbow;
I see the person who’s never there,
the sweet voice replaced by arrogant screams.
Hands slowly scale the once clear wall,
slightly brushing the worn out sheets;
you’ll start again but you’ll always be ripped apart.
I let your words drip.
Will a smile ever reflect from the mirror?
Will your words ever find me again?
By Niamh Mackintosh, 13
I am a broken leaf,
just going where life takes me.
It’s like a maze of mirrors,
anything I do just looks back at me.
It’s always there,
You can’t hear it
but you know it’s laughing at you.
The hidden waves of Florida
heating the ever growing sky.
The sparks of my life
set alight in my mind,
spreading like wildfire to my actions.
I don’t regret what I did
but that’s not what I’m being forced to believe.
I wish I was a compass,
never getting lost,
always knowing where to go.
I am a broken leaf,
just looking for the other half.
By Josh Lowes, 13
A Lost Plant
I am a plant in the desert,
surrounded by thousands of grains of sand.
I am as white as the robes of heaven,
as grey as nothingness.
I feel it wherever I go;
it sleeps in my stomach.
It sounds like silence screaming,
like deafening silence.
It is a waterfall of silent noise,
of unsaid words.
I am drowning in my current,
I wonder what it would be like
to be a plant in a garden
but I am destined to be a plant
in the desert: unique,
lonely, or just different?
By Georgina, 13
I am feeling lonely,
like a single plant in the Sahara.
Grey. A sky’s reflected mourning,
a night’s forgiven day. Constant.
An overwhelming wave of sadness
swallowing my skin, inhabiting my bones.
An angel’s whisper, sweet and silent.
Real but never there.
A place to feel safe. A place to be free.
The world. Bright, happy, needed.
Everything I want to be.
You are never so far from your dreams.
I am sorry for never being enough for you.
The ocean. Free but trapped. Cold but comforting.
I am feeling lonely,
like a single plant in the Sahara,
hopelessly waiting for another drop of rain.
By Emily Newby, 13
You feel alone.
Hunted and mocked like a criminal.
You feel dark,
like the darkness is shriveling you,
making you unseen by the world’s perceptions.
I know that feeling,
lingering in your mind just like poison in blood.
You hear yourself
struggling to escape your solitary prison.
You want to be like them,
to have friends
but they cower behind hollow emotions.
You are sorry,
sorry for not being afraid to show your emotions.
You feel alone.
So do I.
So if you feel alone just know
I am alone, too.
By Marcus, 12
I felt musty and fake,
as if I constantly had to wear a mask.
I felt orange,
as if I always had to wear a coat of makeup,
hiding everything inside.
When my heart sinks to my feet.
When the world seems my enemy.
When the birds seem silent.
Like a fireplace,
crackling at the back of my mind.
the long, dry grass and the river
flowing through it.
The clouds do not block the sun,
the world is alive around me.
The gentle morning breeze hugs me,
helping me stay cool.
Sorry for not understanding that,
when you hurt me,
you were just letting out
your worry, sadness and anger.
Wishing I was her.
Looked up at,
people staring in awe when they see me.
Excitement rushing, surging through
their mind as their eyes set on me.
I felt as if I couldn’t see clearly.
As if people couldn’t see the real me,
for I am afraid of what I might become
if they do.
By Tamsin Keeney, 12
I felt masked, hiding,
the truth not showing.
My mix of colours was shrouded,
lurking beneath the grey,
fighting to escape the room which was in my head.
when the rest of the world was forcing me into a drawer,
the sound of thunder rumbling far beneath my skin
in another failed attempt to escape
the endless labyrinth of tunnels,
daylight failing to seep through the covered passage.
I see my true colours,
guiding me down the unfamiliar turns,
personality erupting from beneath the clouded blanket.
I regret the moments of glumness,
the wasted time crouching under joyful waves of happiness.
I wish I had spent my time being the person
I was sculpted into, not holding back my rainbow,
unable to flourish. But I cannot.
And we all know my rainbow will not last.
Once again I will be masked
beneath the grey storm.
I won’t be able to carry on forever,
so will you carry on for me?
By Philippa Musgrave, 12
As hurtful as a knife through my heart.
The black blood / trickled down words.
It’s a mystery / lurking / all around me
ready to take over my mind.
The sounds of knocking on a door /
it’s trying to get in my head.
The clear sea / washing away the sand
like my mind / trying to wash away my sins.
Happy feelings and a happy life /
I wish I had that.
I shouldn’t have done that / it consumed my mind
I just want to be normal / not like I am
trapped inside my prison cell.
I didn’t mean to kill him / I was jealous / anger
took over me / now I can’t sleep / I can feel
the knife I stabbed into the heart /
but in my own / no one can save me.
By Chelsea Wilson, 13
I am feeling stuck,
like brown gooey mud, slowly consuming me.
Stuck, like when I put pen to paper,
when dreams almost silently, but eerily,
take over your mind.
The tiny clay models on the window.
Close to the sky, but never close enough.
The small photo frame containing the photo
of a cat, taking pride of place on the wardrobe.
Stay calm and be happy – it’s only mud.
I’m sorry for never being happy,
or free from this goo.
I wish I was a bird, never restricted.
I’m not stuck. I’m just waiting.
By Ruby Juggins, 13
I feel like a snapped branch.
My tree has fallen.
Its colour is now dusty grey,
silver that has lost its shine.
I feel it whenever I go to a hospice;
the throbbing of pain and sadness.
It sounds like a tyre screeching,
the screaming of children and shouting of death.
A graveyard, where I was pushed
in a white pram and where my family
lay sleeping. My grandad, even
in his last hour, still was cheerful.
I am sorry for saying bad things
about coffins always doing their job.
I wish I was God, always watching
over people, always protective.
The branch has completely fallen
off the tree because my enemy
is still alive. It destroys lives,
the disease that killed my beloved Gaga.
By Maia Crombie, 12
You are cloudy, like a lost paper bag, drifting, free.
In your arms, soft as honey,
I feel your hunger, everywhere and every place,
the voices of angels, humming and harmonising.
You are strong in the place of soft slumber.
Stressed bulls of war attack the doors of your safety;
Hush now, do not grimace and grin at their useless effects.
For now, they rest in unsatisfied agony.
Here you wish to be the unhappy successor.
Here you continue to endure the bliss of love.
By James Anstee, 13
Nervousness: a beating heart
As the blue of a quivering tide
retreated to its home,
a new emotion was born.
It fluttered in my chest,
pecking away at self-doubt;
its hollow screeches echoed
inside my thoughts; it started
flapping its wings, throwing itself
at its prison walls. It cried itself raw;
but truth’s gentle hand encased it.
The wait was over.
By Juliette, 13