As part of a Cities of Literature collaboration to celebrate World Poetry Day, 21 March 2021, Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature provided free hands-on poetry workshops, City of Literature Primary Possibilities, for children aged 7-8 years in schools in South Dunedin. South Dunedin was selected for this project to support the ongoing programme Read Share Grow delivered by the National Library, the Ministry of Education, Dunedin Public Libraries and the Dunedin City Council to promote a love of books and story, which is being rolled out in in the region in 2021.
Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature was fortunate to have secured the expertise of Liz Breslin, well known local writer, editor and tutor who has experience working with writers of all ages, to lead City of Literature Primary Possibilities. Liz won a Cities of Literature residency offered by Kraków, Poland and here the beginnings of her ‘Possibilities’ programmes began. During lockdown in 2020 Liz worked with Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature on the City of Literature Possibilities Project, where poets from all around the world wrote and filmed their own poems, based on Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, ‘Possibilities’ that starts
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
Using this same idea but tailoring it to a much younger generation, Liz worked with classes about preferences in their own lives and in their own language – ‘The swings or the slide? A pencil or a pen? Red or blue or green or a rainbow? What things will we say? What things will we edit away?’ Together the class decided the content and order of the poem; what things could be repeated and if they could find rhymes.
New books were provided by the National Library, and the wonderful completed poems were designed and printed as posters by Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature and given to the participating schools as a permanent record of the workshop.