lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info and Lola the labradoodle!

A-Z Challenge Blog Theme Reveal!

Every year since 2012 I have taken part in a blog challenge which can be rather gruelling… a post a day throughout April, discounting Sundays. Each day the theme is illustrated by a succeeding letter of the alphabet, starting, of course, with A.

Every year I have done Amazing Animals as my theme – this year is going to be different. To chime with the arrival of my latest book, Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, written with Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, the posts will be about extraordinary women and girls.

Jan and Michaela will be writing some of the posts as guest bloggers – they are both feisty and interesting women, I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to say – and seeing you all here during the challenge!

Good luck to all the other A-Zers!

It’s World Poetry Day!


It being World Poetry Day, it’s probably a good idea if I post a post a poem – so here it is – At the Match with my earwig!


At the Match


They didn’t like my earwig,

the reason I don’t know,

but they chanted when I took him,

earwig go, earwig go, earwig go!


©Liz Brownlee

Reaching the Stars – first review from Lovereading4kids


Reaching the Stars by Jan Dean, me, and Michaela Morgan, cover art by Steph Says Hello.

We have had our first review by Andrea Reece from Lovereading4kids – and it’s a lovely one! Thank you, Andrea!

New poems by three of our brightest and liveliest poets are gathered together in this anthology which celebrates women and girls, lots of them. The lives of the really famous – Malala, Frida Kahlo, Amy Johnson, Hillary Rodham Clinton – are discussed, the roles of women in fairy tales debated, and the achievements of women whose names we’ll never learn acknowledged too. The poem styles are as varied as the book’s subjects, and there are poems to make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you think. It’s a sparkling collection, inspiring and empowering. Buy copies for all the young people in your life. ~ Andrea Reece


Poets Write Where They Can… The Video!


Many years ago, poet Roger Stevens invited other children’s poets to take part in a poetry retreat in Shropshire. I wasn’t a new poet at the time, I was fairly well published, but I didn’t know many other children’s poets at all. I was rather shy of meeting them. But I decided to go – and that was the single best career decision I’ve ever made.

We had a marvellous time. Reading poems to each other, our own, and other people’s. Giving each other workshops – shopping, eating, clearing up together. Drinking wine and singing, with the more musical playing their guitars. Talking children’s poetry business – and how to raise its profile.

We have met every year since. We have kept the group small, because it works – occasionally new blood is invited in the form of a young poet, as many of us are getting older.

One of my contributions was the arranging of filming of us poets reading poems – enabled by my film editor husband, Peter, without whom none of it would be possible. One retreat we met in Bristol and did many readings all around – the films were then available for each poet’s website.

One of the best outcomes from this was getting some video of the marvellous Gerard Benson, who was a member until his death in 2014 – he died at home while we were on a retreat, reading his wonderful poems.

The above video is one we did for fun – we all wrote verses, the poets who could make it to Bristol read the verses, and it was a lovely and unexpectedly sunny day for the filming.

Taking part were: Me (of course!), Gerard Benson, Catherine Benson, Jane Clarke, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Andrea Shavick, Roger Stevens and Phil Waddell.

Thanks are due to Michaela Morgan, Jan Dean and Graham Denton who also wrote some of the words, Eleanor Farjeon on whose poem form it is loosely based, and Bristol City Museum and Blackwell’s who kindly let us film (with prior permission, of course) in their premises!

Reaching the Stars, Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls Publication Day!


Yes, today is PUBLICATION DAY of this book written with Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, pub. Macmillan. It’s been going down very well with audiences.

If you’d like Jan Dean, Michaela Morgan or myself to visit your school with this book for readings and or workshops, please contact me at lizpoet @

Here’s one of the poems written by me (the shortest!) and the accompanying facts:

Bobby Riggs, a 1939 tennis champion, unwisely asserted that the female tennis game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him. In 1973, Billie Jean King, who fought constantly for recognition and equality for women in sport, accepted his challenge, determined to beat him. She felt it would set the progress of women back 50 years if she lost and affect all women’s self-esteem. In front of a world-wide television audience of almost fifty million, she beat him easily. The match was called The Battle of the Sexes.


The Battle of the Sexes


Bobby Riggs, tennis champ,

said a woman couldn’t

beat a man…


Billie Jean King, tennis champ,

in three straight sets, showed

a woman can!



© Liz Brownlee




Text and poem © Liz Brownlee and Macmillan. Not to be reproduced.


Reaching the Stars at Bath Spa University for International Women’s Day TODAY!

I was asked by the charity VOICES (which provides peer support and recovery programmes specifically for women who are experiencing or have experienced Domestic Abuse) to read from Reaching the Stars at the International Women’s Day celebrations at Bath Spa University.

Here I am – with my faithful Medical Assistance Dog, Lola, by my side:

It was a fabulous venue, and I’d like to say thank you to my friends, Ursula for inviting me, Meg for taking some great photos for me, and Kathy for driving me there!


Please note the poems held between my knees. It takes years to learn this technique and carry it off successfully. I can give lessons if required!

Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, is published by Macmillan and is written by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, and is available here.

Reaching the Stars at International Women’s Day, M Shed



On Saturday, I was at the International Women’s Day event hosted by Bristol Women’s Voice at the M Shed in Bristol – by the beautiful harbour in the city centre – here’s the view out of the window:




I was there selling copies of Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, pub. Macmillanwhich I wrote with Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan.

We were situated next to SeeItFromHer, an organisation that focuses on giving a platform to women and girls in isolated or marginalised communities, or those who feel oppressed, to have a voice through photography, and we enjoyed the photos very much – having done photography at film school.

We had a great day, lots of interesting stalls, bought some wonderful beeswax candles from Hives and Herbals, listened to The Great Sea Choir from our seats, and sold lots of books.

One of the poems in our book, by Michaela Morgan, is about the matchgirls, who went on a march in 1888 to strike against the abysmal working conditions they were forced to work in. One of the women who came to our stall was the great, great granddaughter of the woman who organised the march – if anyone out there knows who this is, please get in touch as we’d love to hear from her – my brain was addled and I didn’t take any contact details.  My contact details are at the end of this post.

As usual at events I took along my giant animal poem jigsaw, and while their parents looked at the book, their children could puzzle! It’s always very popular:






And here is Lola, patiently waiting on her blanket!




If you are a school who would like to employ Jan (south U.K) , Michaela (Midlands) or myself (Bristol and west) to read and/or do workshops based on this book, get in touch! lizpoet @

Snow Leopard, by Liz Brownlee

Snow leopards live high in the mountain ranges of central and southern Asia in the winter, and even higher in the summer.

Their coats are extremely warm, and at rest they wrap their 1 metre-long tails around themselves to keep out the chill.

They are the most beautiful of big cats; there is no record of one attacking a human being.

These wonderful animals live on a species of blue sheep called bharal, and wild goats called ibex.

Sadly this food is becoming scarce, as these animals are also illegally hunted by humans. To sustain themselves they have to take domestic animals which brings them into conflict with farmers.

They are also killed for their bones which go into Chinese medicine, and for their fur.

They are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List, as there are only an estimated 4,000 left in the wild, and in many areas they are now extinct.



If you like this poem, perhaps you’d like my book, Animal Magic, that contains facts and poems about endangered animals.


Poem © Liz Brownlee

Image © Tambako the Jaguar under CC licence.



Imagine Poetry Festival at the National Poetry Library

On Monday 13th February I had a lovely day performing some animal shape poems to a brilliant audience, in what has to be one of the most wonderfully poetry-filled venues ever – the children’s section of the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre.

I have animated my poems so that the shape of the animal I am reading about gradually reveals on the projected screen – it’s great fun! (But it did take a long time to achieve! All on PowerPoint.)

For once I had someone there to take a photo, so this is me after ‘The Tarsier’ has revealed – not a brilliant picture as the light level was low and we don’t use a flash during performances.




It also gave me the chance to listen in on some other fabulous children’s authors – wonderful Jeanne Willis, in the section before me, and after me in my section, poet and artist John Lyons and poet Kate Wakeling.

When we first arrived at the Southbank Centre I almost ran away again – I don’t think I have ever seen so many parents and children in one place – and the foyer is HUGE!

However, it was a lovely place to be and it was thronging with activities – I would definitely recommend it if you have young children!

Many thanks to lovely librarians, Lorraine Marriner and Pascal O’Loughlin.