A RARE opportunity to meet the critically acclaimed poet of their school studies recently became the reality for a group of budding young writers.
Last week, a class of Tenison Woods College Year 12 students underwent an interactive virtual workshop with renowned South Australian poet Geoff Goodfellow.
In an effort to boost her students’ spirits during the COVID-19 crisis, Year 12 English teacher Marilena Wilson reached out to Mr Goodfellow in the hope he could provide a richer learning experience.
Ms Wilson said each year, Year 12 English students studied Mr Goodfellow’s anthology Poems for a Dead Father while completing an oral and multi-modal presentation on selected poems.
“Geoff recited his poems for the students and then gave them extensive background information on the texts in question, before giving students the opportunity to ask him any clarifying questions,” Ms Wilson said.
“He gave us a sound insight into his style of writing and why he writes about the topics that he chooses.
“Geoff brought a wonderful atmosphere to the room and chatted candidly with staff and students about himself, his poetry and his life growing up in the inner northern suburbs of Adelaide.”
Mr Goodfellow has also co-written the book The People’s Poe which is based on the transformative task now part of the Australian school curriculum for senior students studying English.
Receiving a personal insight into the popular writer’s life, Ms Wilson said Mr Goodfellow revealed all his published work to students during the workshop, along with upcoming publications.
The South Australian poet’s new collection of short stories – Out of Copley Street – explores his life as a 16 year old right through to his time after school and the tech college he despised.
“He told us ‘I do not write about nice things. I write about things that others will not touch – the scary stuff’,” Ms Wilson said.
Year 12 English student Lidya Mungu-Ashuze said she found the presentation both confronting and moving.
“I thought it was eye-opening and it gave me a picture of life in 1950s which relates to his poetry book Poems for a Dead Father that he dedicated to his late father,” she said.
“It was great to learn more about the poems – from the person who actually experienced them.
“He was also very passionate about his work. He does not write pretty poems, he writes honest poems about real life things, which I really like.”
COVID-19 has been a busy writing period for the 70-year-old poet who still enjoys touring and entertaining crowds around the country.
His presentation thoroughly engaged the students, who have come to achieve more awareness and broader appreciation of his craft.
Mr Goodfellow plans to send postcards to the students involved in the workshop as a gesture of thanks for their warm reception of his work.