From Poem to Story – using a poem as a catalyst for writing.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
(from The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes, New York, 1932.)

Here’s an idea we learnt from ‘Creative Writing‘ by Christine Frank and Mario Rinvolucri (Cambridge University Press).

1. Write the word dreams on the board and ask the students to individually write down 10-15 words they associate with the topic.
2. Once they’ve done this, put them into groups of four to share their words.
3. Give out the poem for the students to read silently. Then, in their groups they discuss what words from their lists match the content of the poem.
4. Students individually write a story using words and ideas from their discussion.
5. Returning to their groups the students read out their stories and get the others to comment on them.

Any poem with a strong theme can be used as catalyst for writing a story in this way.


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
This entry was posted in Cambridge University Press, ELT, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to From Poem to Story – using a poem as a catalyst for writing.

  1. Will try it out soon! 🙂
    Thank you for the idea Henry Brothers..

  2. Pingback: My First Poem… « PrefacMe

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