lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info and Lola the labradoodle!

Authors for Refugees

I’m taking a break from National Poetry Day to let you know about this exciting event:

Fiona Dunbar, author of excellent middle grade books, has masterminded and organised an event called Authors for Refugees.

Information from that page:

“This is an online auction to provide urgent aid to refugees held in camps around Europe, and to unaccompanied minors with a legal right to come to the UK.”

And what is being auctioned? Well, truly magnificent offerings of all types from a fabulous mix of authors who write for young people.

If you are a fan, there are treasures such as signed books, memorabilia, artwork, meetings for tea and a chat…

I have my own signed book available.

If you are an author or would-be author for young people, there are manuscript appraisals, meetings, advice etc… things that CANNOT BE BOUGHT, except, yes, they can!

And not only can you bid for all the above for very reasonable prices, there is also – this! A really unique opportunity!

Picnic lunch with author Philip Ardagh, while GRUFFALO artist Axel Scheffler draws for you, and Dottie Hendrix (or another of Philip’s minions) pelts you with stale buns…*plus* 4 signed GRUNTS books.


I don’t think I need tell you how unlikely you are to receive this sort of offer again!

Do you have a birthday coming up? Stuck for a Christmas present for that ‘hard to buy for person who has everything’? This is a GIFT!!!

A young syrian boy in The Jungle.

A young Syrian boy in The Jungle.

And you will be doing good at the same time – the following is taken from the website:

“There are currently around 88,000 unaccompanied children in refugee camps in Europe; Interpol reports that 10,000 have gone missing in the past year. This report highlights just how desperate the situation has become:

Funds raised by this auction will go directly to these charities:

Assisting refugees in camps throughout Europe such as Calais, Dunkirk, and 22 camps across Greece.

Unites unaccompanied children in Calais with their family members in the UK. Also provides them with much-needed support once they arrive. So far the scheme has helped 55 youngsters in this way, rescuing them from traffickers, and the dangers, sometimes fatal, of going it alone.

Here, refugees are offered counselling and legal advice, English lessons, hot meals, classes and activities. More than that, it provides a community for those who would otherwise be isolated. Funded entirely from voluntary donations, it is currently only able to open two days a week.”

So, do go and have a look! Many bargains to be had!

A Message Poem for National Poetry Day by Debbie Singh

This poem was sent to me for National Poetry Day – it cannot be entered for my NPD competition as it is not a message from someone or something to someone or something to do with the natural world… but it is a very poignant poem, so in this one instance, I’m posting it here.


A Message to a Time Tunnel


Dear time tunnel

Carry this precious cargo

Of written words

Back to my younger self

In a carefree world


Make sure I heed the warning

Not introduce it to a kitchen bin

Nor let teenage arrogance

Laugh at it aloud

Then dismiss it without backward glance


Make sure I listen. Make sure I understand.

The complications of ignoring

The consequences of inaction

The devastation of metaphorical blindness

Which sorrow will sanction


Send the message loud and clear

The death of our brother is so, so near


Oh warning words, be loud with force

Be heard, be felt, be insistent,

Stop the suicide that ruined lives, make it not a start or a last

Stop the dominos from starting the fall

For a better future, you must change the past


You, words, are mightier than a sword,

Restore the sibling umbilical cord.


Over and out.



© Debbie Singh

NPD Poem of the Day, The Witness, by John Rice

A rather beautiful image poem today from poet John Rice:



The Witness



© John Rice

NPD Poem of the Day – Mind That Sickle! by David C Johnson



Todays wonderful message poem comes from poet and artist David C Johnson, of Bristol.


Mind that Sickle!


I had just finished my shift.

I’d been buzzing all day

And was looking forward to putting up my feet,

All six, back home, down in my shaft.

When you came along with your crashing,flashing sickle.

“Just tidying up”, I think ,is what you call it,

But a blooming menace from my point of view.

Swoosh your blade swished,

As it roughly wrecked our patch

And revealed the adits to our home.

Really, you need to take more care

With that awful slicing blade.

We bees, of all types,

In this world that we share,

Are finding life hard enough, as it is.

What with parasites and pesticides

And the vanishing of countryside.

We can do without you swinging

That pesky scythe, as well.

In fact, all that we want,

Is a corner  left untouched,

In your garden. It is not asking much.

We know that it may look a bit unkempt to you,

But to us it is an Eden, a perfect purlieu.

So think before you tidy and leave some wild for us,

Because plants need bees and you need the plants.


(P.S. I have copied this to my local representative

at the National Union of Miner Bees ( Bristol section)

In case further action is necessary in the future).



© David C Johnson




Poem © David C Johnson

Image © Steve Begin, shown by this Creative Commons License.


NPD Poem of the Day, by Nicola Jackson



Poem of the Day is this fabulous message sent in by Nicola Jackson:



Dear Earth,

Keep the high combes fluted with flaked grey rock,
the empty places where the Steinadler soars,
where shattered scree chutes tumble into darkness
and turquoise glacier pools feed the torrents’ roar.
As ice rivers shrink, as veined and layered ice recedes
and moraine-lines peter into slurry on the valley floor,
they lock their doors to human visitation,
protect their isolation, their mythic silence, even more.
The hanging paths are ever higher; where once they led to glacier ice
the slabs withdraw their open walkways, ladders reaching
into empty space. Now the alpine choughs come wheeling,
spatter warm rocks with blue-black wings, then whirl away
to fill the voids with buoyant acrobatic flight.
They take their glorious adaptations with them: faithful pairings
to each cliff-face crevice, stick-lined nests cragged in the hungry air,
thriving white-blotched eggs they guard each night.
So the high bluffs are ever further from us humans,
the steeps are marmot-shrieked while soft winds sing;
stitched with ice-age flowers and sparkling mica.
Earth, take heart from all this new world brings.



© Nicola Jackson




Image © Kurt on Flikr, shown by Creative Commons License.

Poem © Nicola Jackson

NPD Poem of the Day – It’s Not My Fault, by Roger Stevens, Read by Sam Decie

Today we were sent this fabulous reading by Sam Decie, aged 8, of Roger Stevens’ wonderful poem, It’s Not My Fault. This poem can be found in the poetry book It’s Not My Fault, Bloomsbury.




Well done, Sam!


Poem and film © Roger Stevens

Forward Prizes for my NPD Poetry COMPETITION winners


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Forward Arts Foundation have very generously donated copies of their new book for winners of my National Poetry Day Message Poem competition!

Do you have a message for the world? Get out your pencils and pens and say it with a poem!

National Poetry Day this year is on October 6th. The theme is messages, but as well as being a National Poetry Day ambassador, I’m also a wildlife poet.

So my competition rules are:

Send me a message poem to an animal, or to the world. I am imagining poems to a declining habitat, pleas from animals going extinct, apologies written from the point of view of a man, maybe an ivory hunter, to the elephant, a love letter to a llama, a note to the world, a lament message about desertification, or rainforest clearance. These are messages about sustainability.

Your poem must be addressed to an animal or part of the natural world. As long as it is a message in content it can take any poetic form.

Send your poems to lizpoet @ on a WORD document, clearly marked with your name, age (if under 18) and contact details including email address, and if they are suitable they will be posted on my National Poetry Day website:

Poems of the Day appear here.


If you would like to know more about who runs and supports National Poetry Day, and who donated these fabulous books as prizes, please go and have a look at the Forward Arts Foundation website:

Forward Arts Foundation

This year we will also be filming people reading their message poems – you never know, you may be chosen! Or, if you have sent a message poem that is posted on the message poems website, and have the ability to video yourself reading, please do send it to me, and it may be posted, or a link to it may be posted, only .mov format, please.

Message to a Murrelet

Here is one of my own poems – the Scripp’s Murrelet chick dives in to the sea less than 24 hours after it has hatched, and having had no food at all. It is hatched fully-feathered and a third of the size of its parents – the murrelet has the largest egg to bird ratio in the world. The parents leave the cliff crevice nest and fly out to the sea, and call the chick, which plunges from the cliff into the surf and swims to meet its parents. It is the only seabird raised entirely at sea.




Message To a Baby Murrelet


Baby murrelet

how will you fare

in the wind and sun

on the ocean there,


leaving your nest

to jump in the surf

just two days after

your egg-hatched birth?


I follow my parents,

they cry out to me

as they ride the swell

on the rising, green sea.


How do your parents

guide you and guard,

when your world becomes

just water and dark?


What do you do

in wind rush and storm,

tossing and plunging

when waves grow strong?


The ocean is where

I am at home,

wind in feather, air in bone,

part ocean, part foam.



© Liz Brownlee

Image © Stonebird shown by Creative Commons License.



45 Days until National Poetry Day!

Are you a poet? There are only 45 days until National Poetry Day, and this year the theme is ‘Messages’.

Do you have a message for the planet, or an animal? Could you write a message poem from an animal, or habitat, or the world, to humanity?

I am collecting message poems of this type on my NPD website, Message Poems to the Planet.

There are PRIZES to be won – Forward Arts Foundation and Macmillan Children’s Books are donating books for the best poems. 


The rules are:

The poem must be a message from one being to another, or maybe a habitat like the sea to a human. I particularly like sustainability poems – from a hunter to an elephant, from the elephant to a hunter, perhaps.

The poem must be on a Word document and include on the same document your name, contact details and age if under 18.

The poem must be suitable for posting on the family-friendly website and contain no libel or defamation.

The poem’s suitability for posting will be judged by me and no correspondence will be entered into about why a poem has not been posted or won a prize.

Suitable poems will be tweeted from now until National Poetry Day, October 6th.

Some ways to start a message poem:

This is just to say…


I am sorry…

I have to tell you…

I love you because…

Tweet your own poem with one of the hashtags:



Don’t forget to include me – @lizpoet, so I can retweet you!


One of my own children’s poems is called ‘Dear Bee’ and can be found here.

You can find lots more information about National Poetry Day and all the National Poetry Day Ambassadors on the Forward Arts Foundation Ambassadors website, here.

You can find message poems posted there on all subjects and in all styles – go and find some inspiration!

There are also some badges, logos, stamps and posters to download.



If you have video capabilities and your poem has been posted on the message poems website, send me a link a video of you reading it, on Youtube – if it is of good enough quality and suitable I may post it in the video section of the message poems website, and on here.

Have fun!

NPD Poem of the Day, The Ballad of Refuge by David Punter

Poem of the Day comes from David Punter of Bristol:


The Ballad of Refuge


I come in fear. The wheels, the stuttering engine,

By road or wave; the endless killing payments.

Bit by bit, my mind returns to rubble.


You come in fear. The hunched back, failed bravado,

They make me squirm. You have no place here, brother;

Get back, for you remind me of my weakness.


I starve, I thirst. I’m out there in my millions,

Teeming, weeping. Just allow me, brother,

One foot on land. I’ll work hard for my pittance.


You starve, you thirst. What of me, of my neighbours,

Struggling in an austere land? The steel-plant’s silent,

My skills no longer fit, my hands are idle.


My hopes are gone. My suffering gods won’t travel,

My women cannot see, their eyes are blinded

By the long dust, the silent days of torture.


My hopes are gone. You come and you displace me,

The silent mills and fields, they scorn and mock me,

The Union Jack’s a shroud; all’s ripe for burning.


I call to you. Across the long dark waters,

Carrying a load of trinkets not worth selling,

Umbrellas, handbags, at the gang-master’s calling.


You call to me. I stop my ears with plaster,

My sons and daughters can’t afford their schooling,

My hospitals are full, the asylum’s broken.


My last cry sinks. Protect me from this hardness,

This cold that shrinks my soul. Pity me, brother,

Or think on me adrift on the long night’s calling.


My last cry sinks. Protect me from this falling.

The bailiffs come, the sheets won’t disentangle.

My homeland’s gone. God help us all this winter.



© David Punter