This has been a fantastic tour, and a busy one: 3 readings, 2 school workshops, lots of talking and eating and drinking. When I get frustrated by the difficulties of this writing life, I do need to remember how much it has enriched my life, too — all the new friends, the new places I’ve seen, the lives who have touched mine.
And one of the things I love the most is getting to meet  kids from all over the world and introduce them, not only to the wonders of poetry and stories, but also to the truth that they have poems and stories inside themselves worth bringing out. In Helsinki, fellow poet and traveler, Noel Duffy, and I gave a reading to a group of teens at a terrific bingual school called The English School. But in Tampere we had a bit more time and were able to also run a poetry writing workshop where we had the kids write a poem together. I used the same technique I use in my Writing Through Cambodia programme but we focussed on the type of poems we had been reading and discussing, namely object poems. We asked the students to look around the classroom and find an object to use as the launching pad for their poem, and they chose the iconic image of a man running inside a square which is the exit sign. I thought I’d share their poem with you: (NB all punctuation, capitalization, formatting decisions are their own)
by Rellu Poetry Workshop
Oh, runninng man
The race of purpose is about to begin.
famous all over the world,
who are you running from?
From death, panic and worry
without coats, it’s cold outside
Hypothermic dance
to the end, let the thriller begin…
River of life dries out
trapped between fire and ice.
famous yet alone, an ocean of emptiness
with no signs of life
Why are you looking for freedom?
Amazing, eh?