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29th August 2014

Writing “Summer Storm”, a Group Poem

By Ms. Emmanuelle Pratt

The students of Mil Lel Primary School in rural South Australia are participating in the Poetry Object for the first time this year. In the upper primary classroom, the grades five, six and seven children have been exploring metaphors and working together to produce a group poem.

We decided to write a poem about a weather phenomenon and settled on a summer storm. We then played the “metaphor game” invented by Gillian Clarke. We asked ourselves questions such as: “if a summer storm were an animal, which animal would it be?” or “if a summer storm were a feeling, which feeling would it be?” We asked many questions and ended up with many ideas on the whiteboard to represent our summer storm. As a group, we decided that the idea that most people in the class could easily relate to was that of a herd of rhinos.

So we erased the board and wrote “a herd of rhinos” at the top. We then identified the different phases of a summer storm: the start of a dusty and warm day, that feeling of oppression as the heat is rising, the visual aspect of dark clouds gathering at the horizon, the sky being covered by the clouds, lightning striking, and finally, the release that comes with the rain. Our job was now to use our herd of rhinos to become each of these phases of a summer storm, but we were not allowed to mention the word storm!

The process of writing the actual poem was very dynamic. The students reflected, suggested lines, discussed the merits of each suggestion, and adjusted and edited our text as were progressed. At times, and especially at the start, it felt like a really difficult task, but as our bank of images increased it became easier and easier. The whole process from start to finish probably took us two hours (luckily we had a recess break in the middle!). Here is our finished product:

Summer Storm

The dust starts rising

On the giant, dirty land.

Thunderous footsteps

Echo in the distance,

The rhinos are coming.


Rippling heat waves

Radiate from thick skin,

Rippling heat waves

Create hallucinations.

The rhinos are coming.


Your chest feels crushed

By the weight of the rhino.

Your beating heart recedes

To a silent thump, thump;

The rhinos are coming.


Angry rhinos sweep up the sand;

Charging rhinos

Stampeding towards you,

Blowing dust into your eyes.

The rhinos are coming.


Grey armours

Surround you,

Grey soldiers

Make you feel trapped.

The rhinos are here.


White flashes occasionally

Escape the stampede;

The white rhino

Has joined the herd.

The rhinos are stomping.


Rumbles and smashings

The rhinos are fighting.

When at last,

In an explosion of rain,

The rhinos are gone.


by Mil Lel 5/6/7 Class

Interestingly, when I gave the group poem to my colleague Judy to read, she interpreted the theme of the poem to be bullying. I thought then that it must mean the poem was of good quality if it were able to inspire different interpretations from different people. Well done, 5/6/7s!

Check out Gillian Clarke’s Metaphor Game: