Did you know April is National Poetry month? A love of reading and writing often springs from a variety of memorable childhood experiences and following one of the poetry trails in the UK can be a way to combine literature with the outdoors and a family walk. I’d previously read on the internet about a Poetry Trail in Victoria Park, Belfast, written by children from a local primary school, so as we were passing through the area recently we decided to take a look. Unfortunately my path to finding it was not quite as poetic as I’d envisaged – it was more a trail of mumbled expletives from start to finish!
The park is off the M3 just outside Belfast centre, it’s easy to spot when whizzing by, it’s easy to turn off and head in the right direction and it’s also easy to drive back and forth, round and round the surrounding residential area spying the same signposts we’d driven by ten times previously! Several ten point turns later, with no more signs and nowhere else to go, we hesitantly drove through a concreted, single lane underpass which led us to a hidden gem and a world distant from the hectic and cluttered motorway. Even the low flying jets seemed easy to ignore all of a sudden. Victoria Park was buzzing with dog walkers, joggers, children and ducks dispersed around the lake. We found a trim trail and a playground, both a source of endless clambering fun for our boys……… but still no poetry trail. There were no signs for it, nobody we asked had heard of it; it was getting late. We had people to see and needed to head on to our intended destination. I couldn’t help feeling a little sad that maybe it was a just a figment of the internet’s imagination after all.
It was bugging me! I checked again on the internet, just to make sure I hadn’t made it all up. It wasn’t until later that week that we went back for a last ditched attempt at discovering this illusive trail. This time we knew how to get into the park at least but still nobody knew what we were talking about, we even questioned whether we were in the right park or perhaps it had been a temporary project. Yet like many things in life just as I was on the verge of giving up and assigning it to the complete and utter mystery box of my brain, there it appeared in front of me, a chunky wooden plinth with a metal plaque, then another and another. We spotted all ten, beautifully inscribed with children’s poetry and illustrations about the seasons and nature.
The thought, the time and money which must have gone into this project has been sorely let down. The children and whoever thought of the idea should be proud of their work. It’s such a lovely touch within a park of many surprises so a few signs would be helpful if anyone is to notice it. The trail is at the end of the outer walk. If you would like to see it please turn left at the car park instead of right or straight forward over the bridge. This will save you a lot of time and you can still continue on to enjoy the rest of the park afterwards. If only we had turned left and not every other direction we would have seen it immediately. I call that poetic injustice!
I liked this article I found on how to integrate poetry in the classroom.