Writing poetry with Matt Abbott

Matt Abbott

In this video series, poet Matt Abbott shares his work, advice and writing activities to help young people write their own poems. You can share all this with your child to help them with their writing.

Matt’s poetry collection is called A Hurricane in my Head. He's an ambassador for Eureka! The National Children's Museum and has recently starred in a TV ad for Nationwide Building Society.

Poem 1. Writing a poem using your senses

Find out how to write a poem about a place without ever saying where it is. Let the reader guess. Sounds, smells, tastes and sights can all build an image. Download the worksheet below to help your child get started.

Here are the list of ingredients Matt Abbot used to write his sensory poem Where am I?

Ingredients for a poem about a swimming pool

  1. Shiny, cold and smooth turnstile
  2. Stuffy and sweaty air
  3. Wet and rough floor
  4. Echoes of shouting and whistles
  5. Splashing, sploshing, paddling and panting
  6. The whiff of chlorine
  7. Water colder than snow
  8. The grown-up looking bored in the booth
  9. The chocolate bar at the end
  10. Feeling nippy in your costume

Now you can create your own! Write down 10 ingredients. It can be about whatever you like!

Poem 2. Writing rebellion

This activity helps kids write about rebellion in a playful way. It means asking questions like: which tasks do you really hate doing and why? How far would you go to avoid doing these tasks? Obviously telling lies is wrong, but in poems it can be funny.

Poem 3. Items of clothing

This video helps children write poems about an item of clothing which means something to them. Clothing is a big part of a person’s identity. Here are some writing prompts from Matt to help them get started:

  • When your favourite hoody kept you snug as a new-born baby while 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. Interesting lives

Matt helps young people write a poem which celebrates somebody remarkable in their lives. It’s all about championing the everyday over fame and fortune. Here are some suggestions from Matt:

  • 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 Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube