Gifted & talented: 'Cook ting' by R.F. Langley

Carolyn Purslow


This is a poem about observation, about how the detail of the world is being registered by the poet. In the poet's biography, on the Poetry Archive website, it says that 'He has kept a journal for forty years and there is often interaction between this and his poetry'. I imagine that some of those jottings are evidenced within this poem, and at other times the poem feels like an episode of free writing in response to fleeting moments in a particular place. It is playful and rhythmic with lots of surprises, and it has a beautiful shape.


The pupils will: explore the relationship between words and objects; words and place explore different ways of performing poetry

Resources needed

PC/interactive whiteboard with access to the Poetry Archive recording and text of Cook Ting by R F Langley. A collection of natural and manufactured objects that have a relationship to the poem, however tenuous.

Teaching sequence of activities


Listen to the poet reading his poem. Listen to it a few times without comment. What images or pictures are the pupils left with in their minds? Write down, before discussion, what those pictures are. In small groups, describe these mental images to each other. What are the similarities or how are they different? Talk about where the poem takes place or from what perspective pupils think it was written.


Choose where you place yourself in the classroom and read out the poem. Think carefully about the voices you use, what you're wearing and the objects cast around you. What impressions do you make? Ask the pupils to reset the scene, to rearrange the objects around you. Then read the poem again. Why did they place a particular object? How do they relate it to the poem? What about background sounds? Could there be any/should there be any? Invite individual pupils to re-present short sections of the poem with these thoughts and ideas in mind. Lay out 'Twelve blank sheets of paper' and place an object on each sheet. Ask the pupils to visit each object, handle it, smell it, listen to it, then write a word or a line about it on the sheet of paper. When all twelve have been visited, share the words with the class. Ask pupils to take a line or a word (another person's word or their own) from each page, to create a new poem with the working title Twelve objects.


Invite pupils to read out their poems, thinking carefully about the voices they use, what they are wearing and the objects cast around them.

Extension Activities

Make new poems: Try to put down on paper details of a short journey within school. Sit in one place for 10 minutes. Write what you hear, comments, notes, observations and thoughts that flit through your mind while sitting there. Sharpen the text, play with the words and shape the observations into a short poem. Reference 'A mis-GUIDE to ANYWHERE' by Wrights and Sites (published April 2006 ISBN 0-95461030-1-5) and follow some of their mis-guided ways.

Further Reading

Blues for Titania by R F Langley

Let us help you find your way around

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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

Comic Verse

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