As part of SPINE Festival 2018 I led workshops in nine libraries across London with children aged seven to eleven. We explored the themes of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ in these sessions.

In each session we looked at what ‘home’ means, where and when you can feel at home and our sensory responses to the concept. Below is a piece I have put together using individual and collective responses to these prompts in the sessions. All the ideas and suggestions came from the children.

Holding Home
I find home in the space between the wall
and my small, warm bed.
I hold it in my hand like a soft kitten
but it slips through my fingers like slime.
It is the pillow I lean on and the fleecy pyjamas I relax in.
It is a rusty paradise, a sort of everything.

When I breathe home in I smell
dinner on the table,
socks on the floor,
an English breakfast, (what is that anyway?)
dog food and perfume as a sister goes out of the door.
I breathe in the scent of expired juice,
fruit flavoured tea,
jerk chicken and rice, cooked just right.

If you listen carefully you will hear home
in the ping on the microwave,
the dingdong of the doorbell
and the blah blah blah of the TV.
You might hear home in the shower,
or the crackle of the frying pan,
in the door opening,
the door slamming,
in the shouting, the snoring,
barking, slurping,
the clicking and purring.

Home is every shade of yellow
but just the lightest of greens.
It the red of mum’s face trying
to unlock the door.
It is the blue or every sea.

Home is as smooth as PS4 controller,
it brushes knots out of my hair,
it is comfortable, it fits.
It laughs sometimes you know,
giggles with you, smiles at your jokes.
It cries too, can you hear it?
It is shouting, whispering, welcoming you in.

We also discussed what makes certain things belong in certain places and what makes them ‘out of place’. We worked together creating belonging poems starting with just one random object and thinking where it would be strange to see it.  The children then had a go on their own. Their imaginations blew me away! At the end of the sessions they had excellent poems and were encouraged, as a follow up activity, to use them as titles for new stories or poems.

A few examples of these poems are below….

A brick doesn’t belong in space.
A rocket doesn’t belong on my kitchen table.
A spoon doesn’t belong in a sandwich.
Ham doesn’t belong on a whiteboard.
A line doesn’t belong on your head.
Hair doesn’t belong on a cake.
Jam doesn’t belong on a clock.
A hand belongs on a face.
In a glove, in a pocket.
By Owen

A handbag doesn’t belong in a toilet.
Water doesn’t belong in books.
Pages don’t belong in a bathroom.
A sink doesn’t belong in a football pitch.
A ball doesn’t belong in a swimming pool.
Swimmers don’t belong in space.
Aliens don’t belong on a pirate ship.
A pirate doesn’t’ belong in a library.
Books don’t belong in a dog’s bed.
A dog belongs in my arms.
By Elsie

A fish doesn’t belong in a bag of crisps.
Potatoes don’t belong in the sea.
An octopus doesn’t belong in a washing machine.
Clothes don’t belong in a chicken pie.
Chicken doesn’t belong in a cemetery.
Dead people don’t belong in my teacher’s house.
Group Poem

A ps4 doesn’t belong in the road.
A road doesn’t belong in your house.
Your house doesn’t belong in a bed.
A bed doesn’t belong in your hand.
Your hand doesn’t belong down the toilet.
A toilet doesn’t belong in your mouth.
Your mouth doesn’t belong to a prisoner.
Group Poem

Photo Credit: Suzi Corker Photography