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Poetry Writing Activity

Inspire your community, group or organisation to create poetry together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Poetry Writing Activity

Poetry can be incredibly powerful. During the Holocaust and other genocides, those persecuted wrote poetry to express their feelings of loss, suffering and hope. Survivors wrote poetry afterwards as a response to their experiences. Writing, reading and sharing poetry can be a creative way to bring people together, even if you are not able to physically join together.


Firstly, offer some inspiration to your group or audience:

Take this further: Use our HMD poetry lesson plan to explore the Holocaust and genocide in more detail through poetry.

Planning and structure

Secondly, decide how you are going to write your poem. Here are a few ideas:

  • Consider how you will write and assemble the poem together virtually. If you would you like everyone to be online together, discussing their lines, and are using a platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you could consider putting people into smaller groups using breakout rooms. Alternatively, have the initial discussion together online, and then ask people to write their lines in their own time. You could assemble the poem yourself, or reconvene everyone online to put the poem together.
  • As a group, identify key themes, ideas or words that you want the poem to focus on or include. Discuss these themes and ideas – what inspired them, was it a life story or image? Why are these stories still relevant today?
  • Individuals could each write their own poem to share with the group which could be used as inspiration for the group poem.
  • Decide on the form and structure of your group poem: will it be a traditional poetic form or more flexible; will it have a rhyme scheme or a specific metre? It would be helpful to agree the form of the poem before anyone starts to write.
  • Each member of the group could write one line or one couplet (for example) on a specific theme, which could be collated together to form the poem
  • Consider the size of your group – if it is very large it might be better to split into smaller groups or pairs with each group writing their own poem

Writing your poem

Next, write the poem:

  • With one person leading, encourage the group, as individuals or in their small groups, to contribute words, lines, images or quotes

Sharing your poem

Finally, share your poem:

  • On social media. Make sure you tag us on Twitter and Facebook and use our hashtags – find out more here.
  • In a ceremony for HMD – get help with organising an online ceremony here
  • On your own channels – do you have a newsletter, intranet or website?
  • As well as a written version, consider recording the poem as a group – use this resource for guidance.

Let us know

Don’t forget to add your poem activity to our online map and let us know how you marked HMD! Every event, online or in person, makes up the national picture of how the UK marks HMD.

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