On Saturday 28th September I was in the Forest of Imagination in Bath’s Kingsmead Square, reading poems from Apes to Zebras, to unsuspecting members of the public, both adults and children, who came to explore the Book Den (which was stocked by the kind authors attending Bath Children’s Literature Festival). Luckily everyone seemed to enjoy the book and the readings… it was great fun and a lovely way to spend the run-up to National Poetry Day.
Here’s some more photos:
Children and adults are always as fascinated by animals as I am!
Altogether a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
This wonderful book(Otrer-Barry) is full of poems by the National Poetry Ambassadors on the theme for National Poetry Day of Change. I’m one of them, and my poem is below with the teachers’ notes which were prepared by the WONDERFUL CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education). I really recommend this book, the poems are gorgeous, and you can download the teachers’ notes for all the poems here.
In the Arctic summer
the cloud-grey fox
listens for prey
in the low shrubs and rocks
hidden and still
as the permafrost ground
his senses vivid
with scent and sound
when lemmings are hidden
under the snow,
the wild geese are flown
and biting winds blow
a horizon-less white
shrouds the Arctic fox
in clouds of snow fur
from tail tip to socks
he haunts frozen sea
as thin as the air
hoping for scraps
missed by polar bear
or curls in his tail
from the star-cold white
chewing on hunger
through long arctic night
and waits for spring sun
and pale Arctic day
to melt tundra snow
and his white coat away
© Liz Brownlee
Here are the teaching notes for this poem, prepared by the CLPE.
Read aloud Snow Fox by Liz Brownlee
Have the children ever seen an Arctic Fox before? Share the following video so that children can explore language and concepts from the poem in context: Arctic Fox Video.
Re-read the poem, with a large copy of the text displayed for the children to see whilst you read. Discuss the language and concepts used more fully, clarifying unknown language, relating to what children have seen in the video. Look at how the poem is presented on the page, a narrow column surrounded by white space giving a sense of the fox alone in the “horizon-less white” landscape.
Give time for the children to respond more deeply to this poem. How does it compare or contrast with other poems studied? What feelings do they associate with the poem? How do they feel about the fox? What is its life like on the Arctic tundra? Either as a class or in smaller mixed groups, allow time to make notes and observations around a large copy of the poem.
If you want to study this habitat more widely as part of cross-curricular work, the BBC Nature website has a suite of videos and information at: BBC Tundra Habitat Video.
Now read aloud Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field which Liz Brownlee chose as a companion piece to her poem.
Something Told the Wild Geese
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Leaves were green and stirring,
But beneath warm feathers
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,—
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.
What similarities are there between the two poems? How are they different? They may begin to make connections between the two poems read, for example, noticing how both poems follow an ABCB rhyme scheme. Gain some initial responses to the poem. What do the children think it is about? What do they already know about animal migration? Watch some videos that will help explain the process to the children such as: BBC Snow Geese Video. Watch geese in flight at: Wild Geese In Flight. You can also find out more about snow geese, including their relationship with Arctic foxes at: Snow Geese and Arctic Foxes.
Re-read the poem and allow time to discuss the language and concepts used more fully, clarifying unknown language, relating to what children have seen in the video. What feelings do they associate with the poem? What questions do they have about the poem? How might it feel to see the sudden take off of all these geese?
(This is me – here is a wonderful poem by Susan Richardson, read by Slavka Liskova, which describes Wild Geese as well as their flight, with thrilling words, at the bottom of this post after the CLPE notes.)
Either as a class or in smaller mixed groups, allow time to make notes and observations around a large copy of the poem. Now allow time for the children to watch videos of the Arctic fox and geese again, this time using notebooks or whiteboards to write words and phrases about the animals in action, doing this yourself as a teacher-writer alongside the children. Model how to build these up into a poem of your own about either the fox or geese. Allow time for the children to do the same, constructing their own group or individual poems. When the children are happy with their compositions allow time for these to be published in a variety of ways, for example as audio recordings, video performances, or written or typed up for display.
Wild Geese Poem, Snow Geese Solstice, by Susan Richardson
Do you have one of these yet? EVERYONE needs one! Packed with poems from the National Poetry Day Ambassadors (I am one) and with poems chosen by the Ambassadors to complement their own.
And NPD have launched a teaching sequence sharing how schools can use the NPD anthology across the primary years. Download it for free!!! here: http://ow.ly/tlFb30lKdX1
Want to write for children and teens? DON’T FORGET to join me and two other published graduates from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People –Fleur Hitchcock, Mel Darbon, as we discuss our creative processes with MA Course Leader and author Julia Green. Join us afterwards for a friendly drinks reception for a chance to mingle and ask questions – of us and other local published authors. 4th October, Guildhall, Bath, 7pm.
It’s NATIONAL POETRY DAY, and I’m a National Poetry Day Ambassador, so you will definitely hear some poems!
Lola will be there, hope to see you, too! SEE BELOW!
Do you want to write for children and teenagers?
I’m appearing at Bath Children’s Literature Festival #BathKidsLitFest with two other published graduates from Bath Spa Uni’s MA in Writing For Young People, Fleur Hitchcock (Murder at Twilight, Nosy Crow), and Mel Darbon (Rosie Loves Jack, Usborne Publishing).
We will be discussing our creative processes in conversation with Julia Green (Professor of Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University and author of 17 books including her latest, To the Edge of the World, OUP).
Held at the beautiful Guildhall in Bath, at 7-8pm, Thursday 4th October, there will be a friendly drinks session afterwards for asking questions – link to tickets here.
Hope to see you there!
I’m very proud to be able say that I’ve been shortlisted for Apes to Zebras, an A-Z of Shape Poems, along with Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, and also for The Same Inside, with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, in the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2018!
Here are the wonderful announcement photos from the #NSTBA team!
This is Lady:
And this is Mungo:
How fabulous is that, We are all so excited! There are two other books in the shortlist by Zaro Weil and Matt Goodfellow, good luck to all! The winner is announced on the 10th of November.
A little while ago we got together with some other children’s poets and made some films… this is mine!
Here’s a new poem on the theme of change, the theme for National Poetry Day 2018.
The Butterfly’s Lament
Why, oh why,
said the butterfly
did I have to change what I am?
I loved being
doing things caterpillars can
chewing leaves, chewing leaves
is all I’ve ever wanted to do
but now I’m
a bloomin’ butterfly,
I’ve no mouth, I can’t chew, and I’m blue
I’ll just have to
look for a mouth
if I don’t find one I think I’ll just DIE
Oh, look! There’s
a flower with nice rosy lips,
let me kiss them; hang on – I can FLY!
© Liz Brownlee
Why not send your poem on the theme of ‘change’ to lizpoet @ gmail. com, for consideration for posting on Poetry Roundabout?
It was a lovely surprise this morning to read two such lovely reviews. Many thanks to The Guardian newspaper. And to Matt Goodfellow for letting me know as otherwise I’d never have known! Matt, Roger Stevens and I really enjoyed writing these timely poems.
The review mentions exactly what we set out to do, so it was very satisfying and heartening to read.
Apes to Zebras also has a wonderful review – and glad to see that it mentions ‘delight children of all ages’, as we have had feedback from all ages; adults, too! The shapes made of words fascinate very young children and the poems are written for older children – and anyone, really! Roger Stevens, recently CLiPPA shortlisted Sue Hardy-Dawson and I had such fun writing and planing the poems and Sue and I shaping the final shapes, even though it drove us mad sometimes.
Feeling very happy about this, today.