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William Smith

1790 – 1847

Putting your hero on the map

William Smith spent a lot of time looking at maps like these:

Listen to this poem by Louise Bogan below. The word ‘cartography’ means ‘map-making’:

In this poem, Louise Bogan imagines someone she loves as if they are a map.

Write about William Smith, or another hero, as if they are a map or a landscape:

For example, ‘every vein is a river of bravery racing around her body’; ‘his shoulders are two great boulders, never sagging’; ‘his cheekbones are two mountain summits, withstanding storms’.

Or read this extract from a much longer poem by John Holmes:

‘On my own map of my own country
I shall show where there were never wars,
And plot the changed way I hear men speak in the west,
Words in the south slower, and food different.
Not the court houses seen floodlighted at night from trains,
But the local stone built into house walls,
And barns telling the traveler where he is
By the slant of the roof, the color of the paint.
Not monuments. Not the battlefields famous in school.
But Thoreau’s pond, and Huckleberry Finn’s island.
I shall name an unhistorical hill three boys climbed one morning.
Lines indicate my few journeys,
And the long way letters come from absent friends…

…All that I remember happened to me here.
This is the known world.
I shall make a star here for a man who died too young.
Here, and here, in gold, I shall mark two towns
Famous for nothing except that I have been happy in them.’

— - John Holmes

Think of someone you admire and know well, a friend or family member or someone you look up to.

What places are important to this person and where do they go on a day-to-day basis? Make a list. What memories do they link to particular places? What do the streets, parks, countryside mean to them personally?

Write about an imaginary map that is personal to them, e.g. ‘This is a map of my best friend’s country…’; ‘I name this streetcorner Joke Street after all his funny stories’; ‘I’ll mark this park with a star, important because it is where we met’…

What to do next?

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Take a look at the next workshop

The next workshop is entitled: Get your bearings!

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