The Pantoum Poem is another tool that can be used to help people reflect and represent their thoughts, feelings and ideas. It contains a reflective element, through the incorporation of reflective writing time at the beginning, and also the possibility of generating new insights through the re-structuring of the order of words and phrases. The use of this poem recipe can also challenge ideas around what it is to be creative, as some people may initially respond to the idea by saying ‘they could never write a poem’, and end up being surprised and pleased when they do.

The How

Reflective Writing

Facilitator introduces the theme or question on which they would like the participants to write about e.g. what does community mean to you?/ what would we like to achieve together?

The poets are invited to write in a free way, without being concerned about grammar, spelling or making corrections. Write as freely as you can – as this part will only be seen by yourself.

The facilitator outlines that they will have 6 minutes to do the reflective writing, and that they will be told once the 6 minutes are up.

After the six minutes are up the facilitator invites the participants to re-read what they have written, and underline 6 phrases or words that stand out, that seem surprising, or that bring about and inner response of connection or struggle.

The participants are then invited to give their written piece a title.

Creating the Poem

The facilitator invites the participants to re-write the underlined words/phrases on a separate page or on post its.

The participants then tear off each word/phrase individually so that they have six separate pieces of paper each with one word/phrase on them.

The participant is then asked to pick one of these pieces of paper at random and read it.

They then take the word/phrase on this piece of paper and expand on it to create a new sentence.

On a third separate page they write out the new line that they have created, and this is labelled Line 1.

They repeat this process, labeling the next line Line 2 and so on until they have 6 new lines written.The facilitator then outlines the order in which the lines should be written, arranging the lines in the following order:

Stanza 1
Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 2

Stanza 2
Line 2
Line 5
Line 4
Line 6

Stanza 3
Line 5
Line 3
Line 6
Line 1

The participants can then re-visit the title from the original written piece and use this for the poem if they wish.

The Where and When

Activity with clients/patients/residents who use services

Relatives/carers meeting

Staff meeting

Staff invited to write poem about how work has been for them, and bring poem to supervision

Resources to download

Pantoum Poem recipe