Projects

A Paradox of Platypus Collective Nouns Project

Whether it’s a Murder of Crows, a Labour of Moles, a Smack of Jellyfish, or indeed an Exaltation of Larks, imaginative, funny and simply wondrous, animal collective nouns can delight children and adults alike. This creative project set the young people of Rhondda Cynon Taff a unique challenge: to take an existing animal collective noun or invent a new one and write a poem based on it. Many of the earth’s creatures have them but thousands do not, and the art of creating them is the game of ‘Venery’.

The key to a good animal collective noun, is that the noun should not only be a good description of the group of creatures being named but it should also reveal something about the character of the animal too; a Skulk of Foxes, a Shiver of Sharks, a Parliament of Owls and a Crash of Rhinos for example.

During June and July 2009 poetry workshops lead by Peter Read provided 10 pupils from Treorchy Comprehensive School with the necessary skills to give them the best chance of writing their first or best poem to date. The pupils then worked with artist, Keith Baylis to produce three colourful murals inspired by the poems, which are now permanently displayed in the new purpose built teenage section of Treorchy Library.

The project was funded by Treorchy Comprehensive’s E3+ Project and run in partnership with Academi, Alan Golding (project creator) and RCT Libraries.

Alan Golding, Project Creator said:

“I can’t thank Academi, E3+ and Treorchy Library Service enough for being the first to pilot this project. It has been truly wonderful to read the brilliant poems and see the fantastic artwork created by the young people who took part. And to top it all, a new collective noun was created. The key to a good collective noun for a species of animal, bird, insect or sea creature (the game of ‘Venery’), is that the noun should not only be a good description of the group but it should also reveal something about the particular character, behaviour or individuality of the species. A perfect example was created during this project – ‘A Paradox of Platypus’

Collective nouns

A Parliament of Owls
Liam Nagle-Cocco

Haiku 1

When the bright sun sets
It becomes day for the owls
And they all gather

Haiku 2

Their great Parliament
With its members disputing
Like our own MPs

Haiku 3

Shouting and screaming
Booing, hissing and crying
Writing the owl law

Haiku 4

Ancient Greek symbols
Of wisdom, wealth and foresight
Symbol of Athene

Haiku 5

Ruler of the night
Guardian of the afterlife
To the Middle-East

Smack of jellyfish

A Smack of Jellyfish
Rebecca Bush and Emily May

Sploosh, splatter, schloop
Babble, bobble, bubble
A smack of Jellyfish, pulsing silently through the water
Gracefully and fluently swooshing through the deep blue
Drifting wherever the current takes them
Just a smack of transparent sea jellies gliding
Elegantly through the salty brine
The wind of the ocean smacking against their invisible bare bells
Sploosh, splatter, schloop
Babble, bobble, bubble

paradox

A Paradox of Platypus
Katie Parton

It was thought to be a hoax
By the foolish UK folks
Through webbed feet and rubbery snout
They catch the wiggling trout
Though swimming with their eyes shut
Fish still slide down their gut
Secrecy, privacy is their game
Rarely seen, difficult to tame

school

A School of Dolphins
Sophie and Saffron

Kind playful mammals of the sea
Swimming, jumping freely
A school of dolphins
Imagine them in class.
Speaking with intelligence
As they roll
Breaking off, making sponges
To protect their snouts.
As teacher calls for order,
The dolphins click, whistle
And make ultrasonic sounds
Children bring crisps, pop
Sandwiches, chocolate and fruit
In their packed lunch boxes
While the dolphins
Drag live fish, squid
And dead porpoises
For their brunch.
While children
Chatter, shout out
Laugh and play
Male dolphins
With weeds and sticks
Try to pull the dolphin girls.

keith bayliss

A Pride of Lions
Group poem with Peter Read

Brave and strong as concrete
Fast as lightning
But not quick enough
To catch the telly pizza.
Lazing, slobbing
And slothing, while his lady
Goes shopping, working in the jungle.
Proud as a knight in battle
Prowling around his den
King of all the mammals
And all of his terrain.
Sporting heroes take his name
In football, rugby games
In pride they play.
Still others take his star sign
The masculine, positive, extrovert Leo

murals.