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Reading and Workshop in Zagreb

Thursday, 30 Jun 2005

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I gave two days of creative workshops to teachers of English in Zagreb in Croatia and half a day to students of English. They produced work of impressive quality. Please judge for yourselves below.

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They are sitting in their seats
at the cinema
A boy and a blind girl.
The film is about to start.

The film is about a blind boy
And his girlfriend.
She shows him the world
Around them.
He draws pictures in his head.
As they are watching the film, the boy
Is whispering the plot to the girl.

After the movie they go home.
It is very dark outside
And they can't see anything.
She is leading the way.


The cheese in my bag has gone bad.
I took out a wet towel together with my cheese
I'm dreaming of the shoes from the 19th century
A new parasol would go nicely with my bag
How I love eating strawberry and cranberry cake
Tomorrow is my birthday

Happy birthday
I hope I won't feel bad
I'll eat up the cake
Is cheese cake always made with cheese?
The cheese that in the first verse has gone bad in my bag
The one I bought in the last century

I want to die in this century
And never live to see another birthday
And be forgotten like an old bag
Old people are said to be rotten and bad
They smell of Cheddar cheese
And they don't like cheese cake

You can't have your cake
And eat it too, in this century
Perhaps with another piece of cheese
I can't wait my dyingday to become a new birthday
If I'm not bad
Perhaps I'll make up a new poem and put it in my goody bag

I'll carry around my leather bag
And wash my face with a cake
People will say I'm very bad
I wished I lived in another century
Where people don't remember their birthday
And make their home-made cheese

I'm fed up with this cheese
That has gone bad in my bag
The goody bag I received for my birthday
Together with a strawberry and cranberry cake
Unfortunately I still live in this century
And I promise never to be bad.

In my birthday cake
Is the cheese from the bag
And this century is not so bad.



Love is a beautiful thing.
Everyone wants to be in love.
Everyone needs to be loved.
Love fills our hearts.
It can make you fly like a bird.
But it can also hurt.

Even though they say love can hurt
Nobody wants to give up on that thing.
When in love, you chirrup like a bird,
Showing off and glittering with love.
Those who say there were never loved
Have empty hearts.

Whenever they feel loved,
They turn back not to get hurt.
The beating of the hearts,
Making it a memorable thing,
Emphasizes the greatness of love.
Everyone knows this, even the birds.

And the birds,
Even though they don’t know the meaning of the word “loved”.
It is true that there is a dark side of love.
That side is the side of pain. It can hurt.
It is a nasty thing
Which does damage to hearts.

But without pain our hearts,
And the hearts of the love-birds,
Would never be able to talk about this amazing thing.
What is the point of life if we are not loved?
So what if it means that we’ll get hurt?
We need love!

We yearn for love.
Love fills our hearts,
And even though we are scared of being hurt,
We desire to experience the happiness of love-birds.
We desire to be loved
And to feel that greatest thing.

“Don’t hurt the love-birds!”
Their hearts are fragile and yearn for love.
Let them be loved and experience that “thing”.


Old ladies gossiping
over the fence.
Boys playing ball games
in the street.

Orange helmets yelling around one day.
Noisy lorries and nosy machines
digging all around.

And then they left.
Old ladies chatting
on the phone.
Boys playing ball games
on the playstation.
It came here too.

I'm having my first cup of coffee in the morning.
He's slowly taking the newspapers.
We're sitting quietly at our little table,
Stealing from each other the sports section.
Nobody wants to hear the real news.
We prefer our own private world.

There's nothing new in this world.
The sun still rises every morning.
So do we. Is there really any news?
They've said it all in the newspapers.
Everything has found its place in some section
And has been laid before us on the table.

There's no real breakfast at our table.
Food not news is what's scarce in the world.
Everybody's keeping within their own section.
People don't greet each other in the morning.
They can find everything they need in the newspapers,
Even their neighbourhood news.

He too never asks me about my news.
We just sit quietly at our little table
Hiding behind the headlines of the newspapers,
Each of us living in a private world,
Just sharing the taste of the morning
And trying to share the sports section.

I think today I won't let him have my section.
I'll ask him about his news.
We'll find something to talk about this morning
And something to put on the table.
I'll just venture out in this world
that doesn't care about newspapers,

that doesn't hide behind newspapers.
There will be a smile section
in this brave new world.
Thoughts will be news,
Food will be on the table
And dialogue will taste like morning.

This newly discovered world will not be in the news.
Newspapers won't cover it in any section.
We'll keep it safe at our table in our own private morning.

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