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An etching of the owl and the pussycat in the boat. The owl is playing a guitar

How can camera shots inspire poetry?

For some students, creative writing can be a daunting prospect, whilst for others it is a rich opportunity for self-expression. Whichever camp your students fall into, artwork, moving image and film stills offer an excellent way to support and inspire creative writing.

In this section we’ll explore different approaches to garnering creative writing from your students, using a range of stimuli.

In previous steps we looked at how different camera shots can help to create meaning. Now we’re going to use this knowledge to help structure and devise a poem.

How can camera shots inspire poetry?

A list of shot types can be used to help structure the vision for a new poem, providing a creative constraint, but also plenty of room for creativity.

For example, we can dictate that the opening line of the poem should equate to a long shot and that the second line could be, for example, a close up. Exactly how these images are visualised (and expressed as a line of poetry) is up to the learner, but by dictating the scale, we provide a framework for a clearer vision.

In other words, producing a list of shots creates a visual framework which can help learners visualise their poem more clearly. The order of the shots is totally up to you or your young people. To introduce this concept, it is well worth looking at how shot choices can be used to help us understand poems that already exist.

Take for instance the opening verse of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea,

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

Shot-types Poetry Resource - a table showing shot types and lines of poetry


Choose a poem and pick out your favourite three lines. What shot types best describe these lines? The downloadable resource in the Downloads section supports this activity. Why not use it in your next poetry lesson?

In the Comments section, share one of the lines from your chosen poem and the shot type that best describes the line. You may also like to include a brief explanation and the title of the poem from which you have taken inspiration.

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This article is from the free online course:

Developing Literacy: A Journey from Still Image to Film

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