Apollo the Greek god came with me to work in a primary school, the wonderful Ireland Wood Primary, this week. I went on the bus and I wish I could say that he did too, but he was so heavy, a very large plaster bust, that I had him delivered to the school the day before my workshops began.
He sat looking majestic, if a little battered, on a side table in the school hall, where we were working, and very soon became the focus of our attention.
My sixty Year Six pupils had been studying the Ancient Greeks and were brimming with enthusiasm. I got them to think about what it would be like to be Apollo after we talked about his characteristics as a god. And then I asked them half a dozen questions which I suggested they answer in the first person as if they were Apollo himself.
Very soon children who had been shy and reluctant to share their writing were vying with each other to read out their ideas.
On our second session we did a redrafting session with a lot of emphasis on how to perform their work to an audience. Confidence and assurance visibly grew.
The final session was a sharing session with Year 5, filmed so that the parents of the young poets could see what they had been doing, and how brilliant they had been. Their words were wonderful, insightful, thoughtful and full of imagination. We all felt proud. I’m sure Apollo did too.
P.S: Here is a poem from my 2021 collection ‘Heart Stones’ about moving the bust of Apollo from West Yorkshire to East Yorkshire in the car.
He is unresisting, thrust in the car,
Curly head against the passenger seat,
The dog moves up closer though not too near
Perhaps there’s still strength to the sun god’s heat.
Moving Apollo is not done with ease
His wattage dimmed but still to be felt
I wonder about all the legalese
Of transporting a god, to belt or not to belt?
In the end he makes the transition
Between the Yorkshires, imperturbably
Taking up a commanding position,
Profile displayed, a stony gaze that does not see.
Who knows the journeys that he has taken,
Chipped and cracked but in the end unbroken.