Open wide: seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary

The first poem in my book Saturdays at the Imaginarium is called ‘Open Wide’. The poem’s about eating and the title was inspired by what parents often say to babies and young children when they’re feeding them. But ‘Open Wide’ is also an invitation to open our eyes and our minds to different ways of seeing things. Here’s the poem –

Illustration by Jude Wisdom

You can also listen to me reading it:

The poem takes something completely ordinary that we do every day (swallowing and digesting food), but in a way that thinks of this as being quite extraordinary – so extraordinary, in fact, that it hardly seems real or possible.

Here’s the thing: when we really think about it, most of the stuff we take for granted or think of as as quite ordinary is actually pretty extraordinary. So let’s play around with this idea a bit.

Making the ordinary extraordinary

Make a list of 3 things or activities that you think of as being pretty ordinary (like drinking a cup of tea, or watching a TV show, or having a pair of eyes or ears).

For each of the things on your list, what’s extraordinary, incredible or almost impossible about it when you really start to think about it?

For example, when I’m watching TV I sometimes think about how unbelievable it seems that this show I’m looking at is being ‘beamed out’ from somewhere else in the world and is somehow arriving in this little box in my living room. And then I start to wonder, where is it in the meantime, before I switch on the TV? If it’s being beamed around the world through the air, why can’t I see it when I’m outside? What’s inside my TV that makes it possible to ‘catch’ the show and play it back to me? And what if something strange happened to the show as it reached my TV, and I somehow got a different version of it to everyone else?

Choose one of the 3 things on your list and really go into it like this – and more! Look at it from lots of different angles. Think about every angle in turn. (You can even make up some of those angles if you like.) Get that imagination of yours working! Scribble down lots of rough notes and ideas as you think and ponder.

Then, use your thoughts and ideas to make something… a poem, a piece of artwork, a short story, a song, a play – or anything you like.

Ordinary creatures in extraordinary places

Brian Moses has a great post on his blog, Welcome to the Ssssssnake Hotel. It’s called Space Creatures, where Brian invites you to “Take an ordinary creature from Earth and put it on one of the planets where it becomes something totally different to what it was. Give it an alliterative title – The Voles of Venus, the Jaguars from Jupiter, the nits of Neptune…”.

Check it out here: Space Creatures by Brian Moses.

There’s also a bunch of brilliant poems that children have written in response to the exercise.

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