Reinventing the weather

‘Alice in Wonderland’ weathervane on the roof a primary school in Daresbury, photographed by Brian Anderson

Have you ever heard the expression, It’s raining cats and dogs? Do you remember the movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?

One day, both of those things got me thinking, and then that thinking led to writing a poem. The poem is called ‘And Now for the Weather in Wonderland’ and you can find it in my book Saturdays at the Imaginarium

In the poem I pretend to be a weather forecaster reading out the weather report like they do on TV. Except in this case, the forecast is for a rather extraordinary place – the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, so you can expect some pretty crazy weather!

Here’s how the poem starts –

“Today will be mostly a pool of tears, with prolonged spells of ‘who stole the tarts?’

During the early morning there may be scattered saucepans, but these should disperse like half no-time, and by lunch the air will taste of shrinking directly.”

The poem is also a sort of ‘collage poem’ or ‘found poem’, where I’ve cut and pasted lots of different phrases from the book Alice in Wonderland. (A ‘found’ poem basically means writing a poem using words and phrases that you’ve found somewhere else, instead of thinking of them from scratch yourself – but do check out my note below about using other people’s words).

Over to you, weather forecaster…

Ready?

You’re going to begin by thinking of a world that’s quite different to the one you’re used to, and then you’ll invent your own weather forecast for it.

First, let’s bring this world of yours to mind.

  • The world you choose might be from, say, a story, or a comic book, or a movie that you know.
  • Or perhaps it’s another planet in our solar system.
  • Maybe it’s the world under your bed.
  • Or a microscopic world too small to see with the naked eye.
  • Or a world that exists somewhere inside your own body, like in your brain or your stomach.
  • Or someplace else entirely! Perhaps it’s a real place, or then again it can be one you make up – or some kind of combination of the two (take something real, but then play around with it a bit).

And now…. for the weather.

If you need some examples to get a feel for what a weather forecast looks and sounds like, they’re usually on TV every day after every news bulletin, or you can find some written down at www.metoffice.gov.uk, the website of the national meteorological service for the UK. Here’s what it says today for the place in Somerset where I live:

Today:
A chilly and sunny start to the day for much of the region, but patchy cloud will soon develop through the morning. It will remain dry with light winds, feeling pleasant in the sunshine. Maximum temperature 19 °C.

Tonight:
A largely dry evening and overnight with patchy cloud, but many places seeing long clear spells through the night. A little less chilly than Sunday night. Minimum temperature 5 °C.

Tomorrow:
Another fine and dry day with plenty of sunny spells on offer, particularly through the morning. Feeling chilly again initially but warming up through the day. 

Outlook for the rest of the week:
Turning windy midweek with outbreaks of rain, possibly heavy in places with a risk of thunder. Remaining cloudy with further rain towards the weekend but winds easing.

Okay, over to you – picture your world in your mind, crank up that imagination of yours, and get forecasting!

Freestyle or found?

You might want to dive in and make the whole thing up completely from scratch, using your own ideas and your own words.

Then again, you might decide to have a go at a found poem or collage poem like mine. Totally your call.

Shauna’s weather map – the weather has eyes & legs & arms & teeth!

Getting arty

If you’re feeling arty, maybe you can do some pictures too. You know those weather maps they have on TV that the forecaster points to behind them – the ones with little clouds and suns and what-have-you? Why not try one of those, but instead of clouds and suns, put in some of the crazy things from your poem! 

Again, you can draw them yourself or you can cut things out of magazines and make a collage. Here’s one I had a go at. (Hey, maybe you could write the forecast to go with it?).

A note on found poems

If you do make a found or collage poem (either now or sometime in the future), do be sure to be up-front about it; add a note at the end of the poem saying where you found the words you’ve used and who originally wrote them. If possible, try to get that person’s permission. 


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