Bardwell O’Neil are Game – Swindon Festival of Poetry

9 Oct

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Bardwell O’Neil are Game turned out to be the perfect format for a seven year old to write poetry. Basically: a running around game, followed by writing down words about it, followed by another running around game, followed by more words, then poetic genius, followed by more running around games followed by more poetic genius. Wears me out just remembering it.

Yes, I’m probably biased because it’s my seven year old writing the genius poetry. But here’s the evidence: he’s had a story blog since he was four, loves to recount tales (and is addicted to Doctor Who and most other things that happen to be on TV), and going without his bedtime story is the ultimate punishment. However, by the time he’s sat down (what seems like the whole day) at school, and has done his homework (still getting my head around homework at his age) he doesn’t want to concentrate on any more writing.

So Sue Bardwell and Heather O’Neil, both with young sons, embarked on this experiment on Sunday (Broadgreen Community Centre at the Swindon Festival of Poetry) to get kids, boys in particular, writing poetry. So – by way of playground games such as Fruit Salad, Chains, Bulldog and What’s the Time Mr Wolf? – they get kids energised, then thinking about words associated with their actions and emotions, then writing them down into verse and stanzas.

Milo adores playing with other children. He likes it above TV, reading, eating sausages even. A good competitive game having fun with other kids and leaving him a sweaty mess is best of all. So it’s kind of a genius idea to combine both energy and concentration – the kind that’s so simple I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it (especially schools).

As soon as Milo sat down from his game he came up with words to express how he felt, what he did, etc. And no sooner had Heather said: now let’s write a poem, he was off! By the time they were asked to share, he’d written a side of A4 complete with alliteration, metaphors, similes and a narrative.

Of course he wasn’t the only one: the other boys came up with rhymes, drawings, pithy poems, long poems, all of which are now, I’m sure, proudly displayed on a fridge.

On the way out, Milo said to me: ‘Was that a party?’ ‘Why, did you enjoy it that much?’ ‘Yes. And because there was cake and decoration.’

Now we just need a poetry writing party for adults.

4040 in! I’m Princess Leia! Coming to get you, ready or not!

Get onto it, Bardwell O’Neil!

PS Milo has asked me to direct you to his blog which will contain his poetry shortly..!

PPS Check out their blog,

4 Responses to “Bardwell O’Neil are Game – Swindon Festival of Poetry”

  1. amaatk123 10th Oct 2013 at 5:31 am #

    I’ve always said I can’t write poetry. Maybe a poetry party would manifest a muse. But I’m doubtful.

    Just had a quick look at Milo’s blog. It’s lovely. Very impressive. If only all children had creative parents. Thinking too of Michael’s boy.
    Do you peeps live in Swindon?

    • Agent Louisa 10th Oct 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Of course, the romantic poets had poetry parties – at the inn, with wine and, er, other stuff.

      Obv I think it’s great that Milo is creative (and he’ll love that you liked his blog), but if everyone was like that then roads wouldn’t be built and banks wouldn’t be opened. Actually, come to think of it, maybe more poets wouldn’t be bad thing…It does seem to be a hard way of being poor, though.

      We live the other side of the great divide (the M4), near Marlbs.

  2. Heather 10th Oct 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Milo was ACE! Thankyou for this – it’s good to hear he believes poetry was a party; the revolution continues! Grown-up version would be excellent.

    • Agent Louisa 10th Oct 2013 at 6:34 pm #


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