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The poetry of the Albert Dock

24 February 2016 by Emma Walmsley

group photo of school children on stage

This year we held some creative writing workshops linked to the On the Waterfront exhibition at the Maritime Museum. The imaginative pupils from St Vincent de Paul Primary School have indeed come up trumps with their wonderful work produced in response to the exhibition at the Maritime Museum! After their very successful visit to the museum back in January, they followed up their new found knowledge of Liverpool’s maritime past with creative writing sessions back in the classroom with John Hughes from The Windows Project

Thinking about Liverpool’s commercial beginnings with the building of the Old Dock in 1715 and also their own personal feelings and impressions of the docks today, they firstly created two group poems. Inspired by the way that traditional nursery rhymes detail historical events, the children worked with John to use the rhythm of ‘Incy Wincey Spider’ to create their poem about the Old Dock. Once they were confident with this conventional rhyming pattern, John opened up their creativity by evoking the different senses to bring to life the sensations and emotions of being by the docks today. Both of these exercises really showed their confidence beginning to grow!

man teaching a group of children

Creative writing workshop with John from the Windows Project

The final challenge was for each child to create their own poem conjuring up images of the Albert Dock at its height – evoking the hustle, bustle, liveliness and noise of the myriad ships and cargoes that passed through the city’s dock system. The scenes they created in their writing really showed that they had been enthused by the stories they had heard at the museum!

On the very last day of the project I went out to visit the children at their school for the afternoon to hear them reading out their work, which was also recorded. I was really impressed with how much they had taken on board and how keen they were to get involved with the project – they should all be very proud!

You can listen to one of the group poems that the children recorded here and there are more of their poems on the National Museums Liverpool website, on the On the Waterfront creative writing project pages.

The Albert Dock is…
The sight of brown, brick buildings
Standing like creased, dusty cardboard boxes.
The sound of lip-lapping waves against the stone walls.
The touch of cold, metal chains, thick and heavy.
The smell of salty chips, steaming hot, vinegary and greasy…
And the taste of Liverpool!

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