- Stir 4oz lukewarm water, 1oz yeast and half a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl.
- Rest for a few minutes to allow the yeast to grow.
- Mix 4oz milk, 2.5 oz melted butter and a beaten egg. Pour into the bowl.
- Add 20oz bread flour, 2.5oz sugar, 1tsp salt and 1tsp cardamon.
- Bring together and knead for about 10 minutes.
- Cover it and let it rise until it’s doubled in size.
- After it’s risen, knock the air out of it and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Form 14 balls and put onto a greased baking tray, one inch apart.
- Place the baking tray in a cold oven for about half an hour.
- Remove the buns from the oven and brush with beaten egg yolk.
- Cook the buns at 175ºC until golden brown (roughly twenty minutes).
- To make the marzipan filling, whip one egg white to soft peaks.
- Fold in 2.25oz ground almonds and 3.25oz icing sugar.
- Remove the buns from the oven and leave to cool.
- Slice into each bun and add a teaspoon of the almond paste.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream to each and sprinkle with icing sugar.
- Enjoy – but unless your name is Adolf Frederick, you might not want to eat them all at once.
After reading some of the poems in my book, you might like to try writing one of your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Firstly, choose to write from the point of view of one of these people or, if you prefer, think of someone of your own.
Angry that people blame scientists for the atomic bomb.
Angry that so many modern women choose not to vote.
Angry that people celebrate Christmas.
- Research your chosen person.
- Note down three or more facts about them.
- Imagine yourself as that person.
- Think about why they are angry.
- Think about who they might be angry at and direct your poem at them.
- Write in your characters’ voice.
Don’t feel you have to come up with something amazing on your first attempt. I spent months on some of my poems – and I’m still not happy with quite a few.
There’s always room for improvement but I still feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. I hope that you will too.
PS If you’re feeling stuck, here are some other characters you could write about
Angry that most of Sherwood Forest has been cut down
Angry that people don’t love their mothers enough
Angry that she never got properly paid for her novels
Vincent Van Gogh
Angry that people only appreciated his art after he died
Lady Jane Grey
Angry that she was only queen for nine days
Even though I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, I’ve never felt very confident about using similes, metaphors and other poetic techniques. When using metaphors and similes in particular, I find it hard to avoid cliché and make them flow naturally with the rest of the poem.
Thankfully at the time of writing Thirty Angry Ghosts, I was reading and discussing at least one poem a week with other members of Suffolk Writers Group. These included some beautiful, inspirational work by Phyllis Wheatley, Elizabeth Barrrett Browning, Louis McNeice and William Wordsworth.
As is the case with someone who learns a foreign language, the more poetry I read, the more the language of poetry got into my blood. After a while, metaphors and similes began to seep out into my own writing fairly naturally. It is only now, looking back, that I can see how many different techniques I used.
Here are some examples
Some of these I used consciously and some just came out naturally. If you are using these resources for educational purposes, you might like to note down which techniques these quotations use and (if you have time) how they bring out the themes and meanings in the poems whilst (hopefully) adding to the reader’s enjoyment.
- Consonance (like alliteration but the repeated consonants can appear anywhere in the word, not just at the start).
I have written a completed table below this one. Of course, your answers may differ from mine, especially the ‘Effect’ column. Poetry affects everyone differently after all.
|Poem and Quotation||Poetry Techniques||Effect|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘the flame grew high, pierced the sky, licked its great orange tongue round the moon and spat.’|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘your nights will fill with memories of mechanical monstrosities’|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘She found rhythm in the rocks to match my chattering teeth.’|
|Helen of Troy ‘tangled his heart in the webbing of my silken locks.’|
|Helen of Troy ‘at the knife-edge of night and nightmares’|
|Boudicca ‘I was a drum thudding low and heavy beating out the sound for war.’|
|Abu Bakr II ‘we reveled in the salty spray’|
|Abu Bakr II ‘wind lashed the waves’|
|Abu Bakr II ‘the emerald-tipped trees bowed down low’|
|La Malinche ‘For my words had wings and could fly to any man with ears to hear.’|
|La Malinche ‘the men who took me, chained me traded me for trinkets’|
|La Malinche ‘I was the face of the moon in a darkening sky. I was the bright, shining stream running over the rocks.’|
|Henry VIII ‘Fine jewels around the neck of an ugly girl shine like flies crawling upon excrement.’|
|Henry VIII ‘Taken by women stolen by women illegitimate women despised by God.’|
|Margaret Catchpole ‘Songs sung by Ancient Voices that surge silver rivers round the dry red rocks and soothe the scalded forest land.’|
|Margaret Catchpole ‘The Oak and Ash on pipes and fiddles Earl Soham Slog The Old Bass Bottle.’|
|Ludwig van Beethoven ‘Snip! – I heard it, quite clearly’|
|Mary Shelley ‘The earth trembles, turns and tumbles’|
|Mary Shelley ‘and a springtime of knucklebones surges up through the soil.’|
|Mary Shelley ‘And with their bones and blood and flesh the roots of the cypress tree shall be fed.’|
My Version – Don’t worry if yours is completely different. I just thought you might like to compare the two.
Like I said, I wasn’t totally conscious of all these things when I was writing. When I was editing, however, I worked hard to bring the techniques to the fore.
|Poem and Quotation||Poetic Techniques||Effect|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘the flame grew high, pierced the sky, licked its great orange tongue round the moon and spat.’||Personification||This makes the flame seem like a conscious being which adds to the sense that it is wicked and dangerous after having taken on a life of its own.|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘your nights will fill with memories of mechanical monstrosities’||Alliteration||I think the ‘m’ sound resembles someone calling for their mother but who is weakened or gagged. It is a mixture of a soothing sound and the sound of someone having restless sleep.|
|Neanderthal Woman ‘She found rhythm in the rocks to match my chattering teeth.’||Consonance and Alliteration||The ‘r’ and the ‘t’ sounds are intended to echo the sound of the rocks being rubbed against each other as well as hitting each other.|
|Helen of Troy ‘tangled his heart in the webbing of my silken locks.’||Metaphor||This is a metaphor for love, taking the familiar, pleasant image of ‘silken locks’ and making her hair seem like a dangerous net or spider’s web.|
|Helen of Troy ‘at the knife-edge of night and nightmares’||Metaphor||The use of the knife metaphor adds to the sense of danger and fear.|
|Boudicca ‘I was a drum thudding low and heavy beating out the sound for war.’||Metaphor and Consonants||The repeated ‘d’ sound and the repeated ‘u’ sound (assonance) echoes the sound of a drum. This metaphor shows that Boudicca feels powerful, strong and no longer human.|
|Abu Bakr II ‘we reveled in the salty spray’||Alliteration||The repeated ‘s’ sound echoes the sound of the waves hitting the deck.|
|Abu Bakr II ‘wind lashed the waves’||Personification and alliteration||The repeated ‘w’ sound echoes the sound of the wind.|
|Abu Bakr II ‘the emerald-tipped trees bowed down low’||Personification||The personification of the trees adds to the sense of Abu Bakr’s power in that even nature wants to praise him. This echoes the earlier phrase ‘the sun shone down a celebration’.|
|La Malinche ‘For my words had wings and could fly to any man with ears to hear.’||Metaphor||This emphasises how powerful her words were.|
|La Malinche ‘the men who took me, chained me traded me for trinkets’||Alliteration||The repeated ‘t’ sounds are reminiscent of someone tutting which emphasises how stupid she thinks the men were.|
|La Malinche ‘I was the face of the moon in a darkening sky. I was the bright, shining stream running over the rocks.’||Metaphor||These images show how powerful she was but yet demonstrate how she was a symbol of hope, harmony and natural innocence as opposed to the violent cruelty of the men.|
|Henry VIII ‘Fine jewels around the neck of an ugly girl shine like flies crawling upon excrement.’||Simile||This simile emphasises Henry’s distaste for women if they are unable to please him.|
|Henry VIII ‘Taken by women stolen by women illegitimate women despised by God.’||Repetition and Rhythm||The rhythm and repetition emphasise his outrage.|
|Margaret Catchpole ‘Songs sung by Ancient Voices that surge silver rivers round the dry red rocks and soothe the scalded forest land.’||Alliteration, Rhythm and Metaphor||The repeated ‘s’ sounds are supposed to be reminiscent of the sounds of a river. The water metaphor demonstrates the power and soothing quality of the songs whilst the rhythm is meant to echo the music itself.|
|Margaret Catchpole ‘The Oak and Ash on pipes and fiddles Earl Soham Slog The Old Bass Bottle.’||Rhyme, Rhythm, Alliteration||These are real, traditional Suffolk folk songs which I researched on the internet. I had a lot to choose from and I was pleased to find the half-rhyme with ‘fiddle’ and ‘bottle’ because, together with the alliteration and rhythm, it makes the stanza sound a bit like a song.|
|Ludwig van Beethoven ‘Snip! – I heard it, quite clearly’||Onomatopoeia||The word ‘snip’ imitates the sound of a pair of scissors.|
|Mary Shelley ‘The earth trembles, turns and tumbles’||Alliteration||The repeated ‘t’ is supposed to echo the sound of the earth moving.|
|Mary Shelley ‘and a springtime of knucklebones surges up through the soil.’||Metaphor and Alliteration||Again the repetition of ‘s’ is supposed to echo the sound of moving earth. The metaphor of comparing knucklebones to bulbs growing is meant to be nightmarish but yet hint at the environmental theme in that life can come from death and vice versa.|
|Mary Shelley ‘And with their bones and blood and flesh the roots of the cypress tree shall be fed.’||Alliteration, Repetition and Rhythm||The alliteration, rhythm and repetition of ‘and’ is supposed to be reminiscent of verses from the Old Testament which ties in with the overtones of Judgement Day. It is also supposed to sound a bit like a spell or an incantation. As such, I am trying to make the reader question whether Mary’s actions are just and fair or whether they are cruel and inspired by revenge.|
Major Themes Explored
Revenge, Environmental Issues, Education, Human Potential, Reputation, Beauty, Story-Telling, Wealth, Sexism, Unfairness, Greed, Wisdom, Community, Justice, Love, Human Frailty, War, Mysticism, Archeology, War, Empire
Write the major theme or themes explored next to each poem.
Many of these are open to interpretation and there is always more than one answer.
|Name of Ghost||Themes or Themes|
|Helen of Troy|
|Abu Bakhr II|
|Joan of Arc|
|Adolf Frederick of Sweden|
|The Unknown Soldier|
Here are the major themes I had in mind when I was writing. It may be that you interpret them differently.
|Name of Ghost||Themes|
|Neanderthal Woman||Environmental Issues|
|Helen of Troy||Beauty|
|Julius Caesar||Reputation, Unfairness|
|Genghis Khan||Community, Environmental Issues|
|Abu Bakhr II||Reputation|
|Joan of Arc||Revenge|
|Adolf Frederick of Sweden||Greed|
|Ludwig van Beethoven||Unfairness|
|Mary Shelley||Environmental Issues|
|Abraham Lincoln||Human Frailty|
|The Unknown Soldier||War, Unfairness,|
|Grigori Rasputin||Mysticism, Wisdom|
|Marie Curie||Human Potential, Education|
Here is my new poetry collection which features the ghostly voices of historical figures such as Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria.
If you would like to use the collection in an educational setting or a with a community group, here are thirty activity ideas which you might find useful. These include arranging performances of the poems, using the book in drama lessons and a recipe for making the delicious semla buns!
You might also like to use my tips for editing poems. You can find them here.
Please note: some poems in the book deal with serious issues and may not be suitable for children under the age of twelve.
- Email me to arrange an author talk, a workshop or a Zoom session.
- Email to ask me to judge an ‘Angry Ghost’ poetry writing competition.
- Hold a poetry reading event using these poems and/or some of your own.
- If you and/or the pupils enjoy the poems, I’d be grateful if you’d write a review on Amazon, Waterstones.com or Goodreads.
- You could put on a show combining the biographies and the poems.
- Students could make costumes and/or masks for the ghosts.
- They could paint portraits of the ghosts.
- They could try sketching one of the ghosts using the front cover as a guide.
- Ask the students to write their own angry ghost poem. (Click here for inspiration).
- Discuss which themes are explored in the poems. (Click here for activity.)
- Talk about which ghost is most justified in their anger.
- Students can write about their favourite poem, explaining why they chose it.
- Together, list some metaphors used in the poems. (Click here for examples)
- List examples of similes from the poems. (Click here for examples)
- Discuss the use of other examples of figurative language in one or more poems. (Click here for my analysis.)
- Discuss how to give an effective reading of an Angry Ghost poem.
- Students can write about the ghost they most empathise with.
- Discuss which ghosts make them feel angry, eg. Henry VIII or Queen Victoria.
- Students can write a letter to one of the ghosts.
- Students can think about who a poem is addressing and write a response from them.
- Students can look through the biographies and create a PowerPoint about one of the people. Alternatively, they can choose a different historical figure to research.
- Students can record themselves reading one of the poems.
- Students could make a bookmark by drawing an angry ghost and choosing a quote to accompany it.
- They can follow the recipe and have a go at making some Semla buns. Click here for recipe.
- They could write their own version of the one of the poems as a diary entry, a song, a play or a story.
- They can act out an interview with one of the ghosts.
- Ask one person to ‘freeze’ in the role of one of the angry ghosts. Other people take it in turns to stand behind them and whisper their thoughts.
- Read my analysis of Mary Shelley and then ask pupils to write about their own poems in a similar way. (Click here for my analysis)
- Work as a group/class to make a collage or tapestry of the angry ghosts.
- Work as a group/class to produce a poetry collection. If you wish to self-publish for free, here is a quick guide: Mai’s Guide to Self-Publishing. You might also like to refer to my editing guide. Mai’s Editing Guide for poetry.
I’d love to hear about any activities you do based on the poems, so please email me with any photos, videos, sound recordings and pictures. If I have permission to share your work on social media, please let me know in your email.