Express yourself in POETRY

Poetry is one of the most creative ways to express your experience. Not only is it fun, you are also able to take the audience on a journey, captivate their attention and enlarge their understanding of a global issue or an experience that particularly impacted you.
How to write a poem incorporating your Platform2 experience

It's always good to start off with a few warm up exercises to get the creative juices flowing and many people find it helpful to write poetry with others so that they can bounce ideas off each other. Why not get together with some other Platform2 returnees and try some of the following exercises?


A body lay lifeless
And limp, in the street
Neglected and starving
With nothing to eat

Just left to die
Her last days in the gutter
As people pass by
They mumble and mutter

A glass of clean water
A morsel of bread
What little to ask
To prevent one more dead

Just look at us now
Our lives of excess
So much more we could do
To stop this poverty mess!

Look up and look down, look all around
Look at your houses and hundreds of pounds

Our needless obsession
With things of possession
Our present time of moral recession

A gentle smile
A helping hand
To help Earth's people
In every land

David Norris
Platform2 volunteer
Mamre South Africa 2010

First Word

This entails getting into a circle and throwing a scrunchie ball (or any object) around the group on a theme. So if the theme is "HIV/AIDS" think of the first word that comes to your mind i.e. "red", "December", "discrimination" etc. and have the team leader write these words on a sheet of paper in the form of a spider diagram. The aim of the game is to get people to realise how much they actually know about a topic and in addition be able to link the words up to write a poem.

Once Upon A Time

This involves getting people to tell a story as a group. The first 4 people in the group say "Once", "upon", "a", "time" and then the story continues by each person saying one word and following on from each other to take the story in interesting directions!

The Big Brain Storm

The aim of the game is to write down all the key points, characters and events from your Platform2 trip. Draw a circle in the middle of the page (like a spider diagram) and put down the different issues you faced, people you met and how that made you feel.

This is to remind you of how much you actually achieved and also to explore ideas you may have about writing memories in the form of poetry, you may have forgotten. If you're struggling then you might want to start by writing down things from this list:

  • The name of 5 people who you feel had the strongest impact on you (in country or in group)
  • 2 development issues you saw whilst in country
  • The emotion you felt when you began the trip
  • The emotion you felt when you left the trip
  • 3 words that describe your journey (use local language)
  • Major events that happened whilst out there - memories of a scary event, happiest event, angry event, sorrowful event
  • The common everyday sights you passed (plants, trees, cars, children, and deserts)
  • Smells, taste, touch, word memory

These warm up exercises should leave you in a better position to go on and write something amazing that does justice to your experience!!!!  

Some people prefer to be left in silence to write; others like to have soft music playing in the background, while some prefer to go and sit outside. Find out what works best for you!

Performing your masterpiece

Once you have completed your masterpiece there are a number of great opportunities you can get involved in to express your poem. There are lots of local venues across the country that hold "open mic nights" where anyone is welcome to go along and perform to the audience. Find out what is going on in your local area and get yourself along.

Platform2: I AM THE CHANGE

Platform2 has published a poetry book showcasing a selection of amazing poetry from volunteers about their experience. Find it here for inspiration.