Friday, January 16, 2009

The Pirate Medusa

Last term we mentioned Cliff Yates's fine book Jumpstart: poetry in the secondary school. Here's a short writing exercise by Eleanor Dolphin of II form, which was prompted by the book. This was was written in class during a ten minute 'led' writing task. The leader prompts with a 'walk through', giving pupils about two minutes to write about each observation: a room, a piece of furniture, a newspaper, the newspaper's date, a photograph, and so on. It's a simple task that allows each pupil to write with imaginative
scope minus the 'How do I start?' anxiety and can be a useful warm-up exercise for writing compositions narrated in first person.

As soon as I stepped into the room I knew things were all wrong. There was a table stuck to the ceiling. What looked like strawberry jam was spattered across the walls. Even as I spoke a knife that was previously stuck to the table sliced through the floorboards with a crashing thud, and the table followed with a little more gusto.

I circled the now divided table; it had been a popular type in the 1600s and had once been cloaked by a frilly lace table cloth. On the floor beside it lay an old, crinkly, yellow newspaper. I saw that the date was 15th December 15th 1898. On the left hand side was an intriguing photograph of an old woman climbing a tree to save her cat. Looking at the woman I would hazard a guess that she was one hundred and three years old.

Lurking in the shadows behind me I saw that an odd man was there, a sort of pirate-parrot-spider hybrid. He looked like a pirate Medusa with feathery wings.
Looking at the photo in the paper again, I saw that the same man behind me had killed that woman and her cat a few days afterwards. That would mean that this man was over a hundred years old. He had been tried, and had admitted that he had killed her purposely with a steamroller because she had stolen his cat.

"I've been waiting a long time for you", he rasped. As I looked around the door was locking itself.

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