lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

Apes to Zebras AND The Same Inside Reviewed in the Guardian’s Best New Children’s Books Supplement

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.

A Mother’s Confession, Read by Children’s Poet, Jan Dean

Jan Dean performs her wonderful poem A Mother’s Confession:

 

COMPETITION NOW OPEN! #AtoZChallenge

Hidden in the A-Z of Children’s Poets there are FOUR poets who don’t exist – their names are the anagrams of real poets on the list, each of whom have written a false bio and a poem for their alter-ego! Guess all four and you stand a chance of winning Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens.

It’s now the end of the A-Z send and time to send your entries to poetryfunfactory @ gmail.com. Include your name, the answers, email address and U.K. address. The competition closes on 12 May.

To read through the entries more easily you can access them at the tab at the top of the page at Poetry Roundabout, link here: A-Z List of Children’s Poets.

Judgement is final. The winner will be informed by email and the result posted here and on Poetry Roundabout.

A is for Children’s Poets Adisa the Verbaliser, Deborah Alma, Moira Andrew and Philip Ardagh, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Philip Ardagh

© Dotty Hendrix

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Philip Ardagh

Best known as an author of children’s prose (and for his beard), Philip Ardagh also writes poetry for all ages; his poems appearing in a variety of anthologies. These include Green Glass Beads, collected by Jacqueline Wilson, Read Me and Laugh, collected by Gaby Morgan, A Million Brilliant Poems (part one), collected by Roger Stevens, and Puppy Poems  collected by Gaby Morgan. This is Philip on Tumblr and on Twitter. I know Philip as a very, very funny man – this poem doesn’t reflect that, but it is one of my favourites of his:

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Goodbye, Good Boy

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Old, old friend.

Stiff-boned now,

Like Grandma’s fingers.

My first true love.

I bury my face in your fur,

Black, now streaked with white.

You smell of sunshine

And golden days of play.

You manage to lift your head

And look at me with trusting

Amber eyes.

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I recall your puppy days

And all we’ve shared together since.

The secrets that I’ve told you,

Best dog. Best friend.

A part of me forever.

Kind hands lift you from me.

It is time.

I will be with you until the end, boy.

I’m right here at your side.

And afterwards? You will live

In my thoughts,

the happiest wet-nosed memory of all.

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But first the pain.

Who knew unhappiness

Could feel like this?

You thump your tail on the

stainless-steel table.

My heart-bursting wish,

Trough burning eyes,

To turn back time.

Goodbye, Good boy.

Good dog.

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© Philip Ardagh

Moira Andrew

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Moira Andrew

Moira Andrew was born and educated in Scotland, became a primary teacher, worked her way up to Assistant Head, then lectured in education at Craigie College of Education, Ayr before moving to Bristol where she was Head Teacher of a primary school. During the 80s, 90s and into the 2000s she wrote stories and poetry for children. Here most recent poetry collection is Wish a Wish, illustrated by Anna PopescuPoetry Space, 2016available here. Moira’s website is here.

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This is one of Moira’s gorgeous poems:

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Portrait of a Dragon

 

If I were an artist

I’d paint the portrait

of a dragon.

 

To do a proper job

I’d borrow colours

from the world.

 

For his back I’d

need a mountain range,

all misty blue.

 

For spikes I’d use

dark fir trees pointing

to the sky

 

For overlapping scales

I’d squeeze dye from

bright anemones.

 

I’d gild his claws

like shining swords

with starlight.

 

His tail would be

a river, silver

in the sun.

 

For his head, the

secret green of forests

and deep seas.

 

And his eyes would

glow like embers in

a tinker’s fire.

 

But I’d keep the best

till last.  For his

hot breath

 

I’d use all reds and

yellows – crocus, saffron,

peony, poppy,

 

geranium, cyclamen, rose –

and fierce orange flames

from a marigold.

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© Moira Andrew (First published in Dragon Poems, by John Foster & Korky Paul, (OUP 1991)

Deborah Alma

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Deborah Alma

Deborah Alma is the Emergency Poet in her vintage ambulance which she takes to schools and libraries and festivals. She has edited three adult poetry books and written her own collection of poems too. She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales with a cat called Little My and a sheepdog called Daisy. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Deborah’s poems, written in response to the picture shown:

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The Spirit of the House

from the painting by August Macke 1910

 

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat,

a blue striped jug, with the light catching

 

the glaze, its dazzle closes the eyes

of the cat -it is a jug of cream.

 

A scented geranium, red and jaunty

in a terracotta pot.

 

Three small oranges and a blue dish

to hold the finger rubs of friends around its rim

 

always, always when they come, they reach out

to stroke the leaves, to rub the dish,

 

to add to the stroked smug of the cat,

to peel an orange.

 

There they are my friends, their backs

to the wall as they bend and bow

 

to half heard music, from the times we danced

to the times we laughed.

 

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat.

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© Deborah Alma

 

Adisa the Verbaliser

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Adisa the Verbaliser

 

Adisa was born with a silver tongue and a head full of rhymes. He exploded onto the spoken word scene in 1993. His mango flavoured metaphors and his larva-fuelled performances soon became legendary on the London performance poetry circuit. One year after taking his showon the road, Adisa landed first place in a National competition titled New Performance Poet of the Year. Benjamin Zephaniah, who was one of the judges said: Adisa is the future. It’s so good to have something to look forward to. Adisa’s really amazing website with contact info is here.

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Here is one of his fabulous poems:

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I am carnival

 

London is no longer naked

Picasso’s brush has kissed human skin

The world unites on one doorstep

Now the masquerade can begin

 

A million voices crescendo

All speaking the same tongue

The sound system speaker pays respect

To the godfarther the African drum

 

A sea of hands holds the heavens aloft

As if offering the creator a prayer

Baselines embrace slippery waistlines

The rhythm is so moving, even the statues shed a tear

 

Sound bites have no place in this parliament

The government has come to the streets

In this global democracy

The people vote with their feet

 

Some bring red, some bring yellow

Then fly their flags to salute the day

The young find wisdom in an elders face

The old remember the joys of play

 

And above the music

We hang our dreams on the shoulders of hope

Riding this runaway train

And harmonizing on the same note

 

Which sounds like

 

I am London

I am the world

I am Carnival

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© Adisa the Verbaliser

B is for Children’s Poets Debra Bertulis, Clare Bevan, Ian Billings, Ian Bland, Ed Boxall, Carole Bromley, and Liz Brownlee, #AtoZChallenge, #ZtoA

Liz Brownlee

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Liz Brownlee

Liz Brownlee is the children’s poet who collated this A-Z (in answer to a survey in the UK which found teachers were mostly unable to name more than one children’s poet).

Liz is a National Poetry Day Ambassador, hosts this website, and runs the Twitter feed for @kidspoetsummit. Her books include Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, Macmillan, written with Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, which won the N. Somerset Teachers’ Book awards in 2017,  The Same Inside, Poems about Empathy and Friendship, Macmillan, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, and Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems, Bloomsbury, written with Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. Liz loves doing school visits, library readings, literary festivals etc. and has read in town centres to the Southbank Centre accompanied by her assistance dog, Lola. Her website is here and Twitter is here.

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This is a poem from Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems:

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.© Liz Brownlee

 

Carole Bromley

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Carole Bromley

Carole Bromley lives in York where she has taught in schools, a Sixth Form College and at York University. She now tutors for the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society and the Poetry School. She was shortlisted for Manchester Writing for Children Award, and performed at CLiPPA Awards 2016. Her poetry collection for children, Blast Off! illustrated by Cathy Benson, is available here. Carole is available for workshops and readings in schools and at festivals.

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Here is her poem!

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Goldilocks

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I’d listened at the door; they were always there,

the daddy with the voice and the enormous chair,

the mummy with the pinny, stirring the vat;

banging his spoon, their spoilt wee brat.

 

The chance came soon; they were humouring

the kid, swinging him hand to hand,

There there, baby bear let’s leave our bowls,

walk in the forest till the porridge cools.

 

All the more for me; I walked in from the yard

climbed onto daddy’s chair – far too hard.

You know the score – hard, soft, right

hot, cold, fine;  big, small, mine.

 

Point was I had the whole place to myself,

put telly on, took a bath, rearranged a shelf.

Then it was Who’s been sitting in our chairs,

helping themselves? Beds are for bears

 

and this one’s bust. Yeah, yeah, fair cop.

But they chased after me and didn’t stop

till jumping out the window was the only way;

and there’s me thinking they’d ask me to stay.

 

But I’ll be back, you mark my words;

bears living in houses! It’s just absurd;

bears eating porridge, bears wearing frocks –

next time they’re out I’m changing the locks.

 

© Carole Bromley

 

Ed Boxall

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Ed Boxall

Ed Boxall lives in Hastings, a seaside town in the South of England. He is a writer, illustrator, performer and educator and likes to make poems, pictures, stories and songs. He has written and illustrated several picture books but in recent years Ed has realised he loves writing poems best and has his first full collection Me and My Alien Friend which will be published by Troika in 2018. Ed also publishes his work through  ‘The Pearbox Press‘. These books are quite unusual black and white picture books that illustrate Ed’s surreal story-poems. Ed’s favourite is High in The Old Oak Tree about a boy who spends his whole life up a tree. He runs workshops, residencies and special events based on his writing and illustration, and performs in schools, arts centres, galleries and at festivals. Ed’s Website is here.

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Here is one of Ed’s great poems:

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Glitter

 

I know there’s glitter in the cupboard,

In perfect brand new tubes,

But I never get to use it,

My mum’s always got an excuse.

 

She says ‘It’s not long until dinner’

And ‘It always makes such a mess’

I was three when we last used the glitter,

Now I’m nearly ten.

 

Pencils and paper are fine,

To draw cat faced butterflies

But I really need that glitter

For the comets that blast through the skies.

 

For the sparkle of the scarecrow’s treasure

The glisten of the monkey’s crown

For the glimmer of the newborn galaxies

Above a Martian mountain town

 

The stardust that floats through my dreams

Races just out of my reach

But the glitter shut up in the cupboard

Is right there and wants to be free.

 

©Ed Boxall 2013

Ian Bland

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Ian Bland

Ian Bland has work published by Macmillan, Scholastic, AC Black, Oxford University Press and Hands Up Books to name just a few. His poetry was recently featured on BBC1’s Match of the Day and he has performed many times on regional and national radio. Since 2000 Ian has worked as a professional children’s poet and performer and has visited literally thousands of schools, libraries and festivals both here in the UK and all over the world. Ian’s website, where you can buy copies of his books, is here.

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Here is one of his poems:

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Ian Billings

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Ian Billings

As well as being poet, Ian is a children’s author and stand-up comic for kids; his stand up show has taken him round the world, including Brunei where he performed for the Sultan’s grandsons. As an educationalist he has also taken his literacy performance and workshop into 3,500 schools. He has 23 books to his credit! His latest poetry book is Lost Property and can be found here. Ian’s website is here, and Twitter here.

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Here is one of Ian’s poems!

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POEM – DOOR

Dad took our front door
back to the hardware store
He was angry, in a fit.
“Why bring back your door to this hardware store?
It’s odd I have to admit.”
“I brought back this door to this hardware store,
I’m so angry I could spit,
I brought back this door to this hardware store,
‘cos somebody’s already opened it!”

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© Ian Billings

Clare Bevan

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Clare Bevan

Clare fell in love with poetry when she was very young. She started writing poetry of her own and one poem about the horrors of hockey was printed in the school magazine. After that, she wrote song lyrics for a local performance; wrote plays in verse for children; poems about the children she taught; and eventually her poems began to appear in proper anthologies! Now her work is in over a hundred poetry books – and in fiction and poetry books of her own such as Ballerina, Fairy, Mermaid and Princess Poems for Macmillan Children’s Books. Clare loves visiting schools to pass on the joy of reading and writing poetry. Read more about Clare here.

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Here is one of Clare’s gorgeous poems:

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The Treasures

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Who will bring me the hush of a feather ?

“I,” screeched the Barn Owl. “Whatever the weather.

 

Who will bring me the shadows that flow ?

“I,” snarled the Tiger. “Wherever I go.”

 

Who will bring me the colours that shine ?

“I,” shrieked the Peacock. “Because they are mine.”

 

Who will bring me the crash of the wave ?

“I,” sang the Dolphin. “Because I am brave.”

 

Who will bring me the secrets of night ?

“I,” called the Bat. “By the moon’s silver light.”

 

Who will bring me the scent of the flower ?

“I,” hummed the Bee. “By the sun’s golden power.”

 

Who will bring me the waterfall’s gleam ?

“I,” sighed the Minnow. “By river and stream.”

 

Who will bring me the strength of the small ?

“I,” cried the Spider. “When webs line your wall.”

 

Who will bring me the shiver of snow ?

“I,” howled the Wolf Cub. “When icicles grow.”

 

And who will bring me a nest, furry warm ?

“I,” squeaked the Rat. “When we hide from the storm…

But who will care for the Treasures we give ?”

 

“I,” said the Child.

“For as long as I live.”

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© Clare Bevan

 

Debra Bertulis

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Debra Bertulis

Debra Bertulis wanted to be a writer all her life. She now writes children’s poetry, plays and is busy working on a middle grade novel and a collection of her own poetry. As a teacher of speech and drama, Debra is passionate about her work at an outstanding Primary Academy. She has been published in poetry magazines including Caterpillar Magazine, and anthologies, including Is this a Poem? Ed. Roger Stevens, Bloomsbury, and also a recent Bloomsbury Education series by Brian Moses including Poems about the Seasons. Her latest publication is in Joshua Seigal’s upcoming I Bet I can Make you Laugh, Bloomsbury Education. She enjoys visiting schools across the country with Authors Abroad. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Debra’s great poems:

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Mr Snowman

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Monday built our Snowman

Sitting proud and fat

Tuesday gave him a football scarf

And the warmest woolly hat

Wednesday gave him button eyes

Thursday a carrot nose

Friday gave him sticks for arms

And Saturday more clothes

But Sunday gave bad weather

The sky began to cry

Sunday took our Snowman

We never said goodbye.

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© Debra Bertulis (Published in Poems about the Seasons, chosen by Brian Moses) 2015, Wayland

C is for Children’s Poets James Carter, Jane Clarke, Justin Coe, Mandy Coe, Andrew Collett, Dom Conlon, Pie Corbett, Paul Cookson, and Cynthia Cotten, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Cynthia Cotten

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Cynthia Cotten

Cynthia Cotten has been writing fiction and poetry for young people for more than 30 years.  She has published several critically-praised picture books, including Snow Ponies, This Is The Stable, and The Book Boat’s In, and has poems included in numerous collections, including America at War, Jumping Off  the Library Shelves, illustrated by Jane Manning, here in the US, here in the UK, and World Make Way, here in the US, here in the UK, all edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  She lives in Lockport, New York (not far from Niagara Falls), in a house on the banks of the historic Erie Canal. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Cynthia’s poems:

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MY CARD

This may look

like a plain,

pocket-sized

piece of plastic

but it’s really a

super-card.

More powerful than

the smartest phone,

more powerful than

a tv remote,

more powerful than

a hundred apps,

my library card

unlocks the world

and more

with a single

scan.

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© Cynthia Cotten All rights reserved (originally published in Jumping Off Library Shelves—poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins—Wordsong, 2015)

Paul Cookson

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Paul Cookson

Paul has worked as a poet for nearly thirty years and visited around 4000 schools, libraries, festivals, front rooms. He has written and edited over 60 titles – including the best selling The Works  – and has sold over a million books. He is the Poet in Residence for The National Football Museum, Slade’s Poet Laureate, Writer in Residence for Sing Together and Chant Productions. And he is a National Poetry Day Ambassador. Everton Football Club commissioned a poem for their season ticket campaign and the Everton Home poem which can be found online and has been played on the big screens at Goodison Park. His latest collection – The Very Best Of (Macmillan) is out now and contains many of his signature poems – including the favourite, Let No-one Steal Your Dreams – alongside other favourites and new pieces. Paul’s website is here and his Twitter here.
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And here is Paul’s fab favourite poem:
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LET NO-ONE STEAL YOUR DREAMS

Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tear apart

The burning of ambition

That fires the drive inside your heart

 

Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tell you that you can’t

Let no-one hold you back

Let no-one tell you that you won’t

 

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky

 

Let no-one steal your dreams

Follow your heart

Follow your soul

For only when you follow them

Will you feel truly whole

 

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky

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© Paul Cookson

 

Pie Corbett

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Pie Corbett

Pie Corbett is an English educational trainer, writer, author, anthologiser and poet who has written over two hundred books. He is now best known for creating Talk for Writing which is a teaching programme that supports children as storytellers and writers. He has supported children’s writing and children’s poets as well as the education of primary children for many years. His main collection is called Evidence of Dragons, illustrated by Chris Riddell and Peter Bailey, published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

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Here is one of Pie’s fabulous poems:

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In the Land of Possibility

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In the land of possibility,

there is a swan’s final feather;

a fragment of the moon’s crust;

the final echo of a rainbow’s cry;

the gleam from a conker

when the shell cracks open;

a silence that was trapped after sleep takes over;

the secret of how clouds travel;

the stillness in an opal’s centre;

a spider’s web that has snared

a bee from the hives at the edge of the lake;

a thief’s subtle grin as he sneaks into a house;

the moment when two ideas clash together;

the sudden grating of a car’s brakes

juddering to a terrible halt;

a whip of sea spray gathering

in the wind on an ocean wide;

flames curling their sulphurous tongues;

snowflakes settling on pine trees

and a gobstopper made of honey.

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©  Pie Corbett 2017

Dom Conlon

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Dom Conlon

Dom Conlon launched onto the children’s poetry scene with Astro Poetica, illustrated by Jools Wilson, a collection of poems inspired by space and praised by Nicola Davies, Jon Culshaw, George Szirtes and many more. Since then he has been published in magazines and anthologies whilst performing and teaching in schools and libraries around the North West. He’s a regular guest on BBC Radio Lancashire where his poetry covers everything from the universe to grief. Dom’s work can be read here.

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Here is one of Dom’s great poems:

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Red Bike
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Where is my red bike?
The rag bone man took it to sell for his supper.

Who bought its shine?
The rain took that to polish its tears .

Who bought its bell?
Time took that to mark out its years.

Who bought its tyres?
The wind took those to carry its clouds.

Who bought its seat?
The mountain took that to help the sky rest.

Who bought its chain?
The river took that to pull all its fish.Who bought its journeys?
I kept those for when you no longer visit.
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© Dom Conlon

Andrew Collett

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Andrew Collett

Andrew Collet started writing in c1979  as a choirboy, in a bus shelter, waiting to return home from Newcastle Cathedral. He became a teacher;  then over ten years visited hundred of schools and festivals as a children’s performance poet. He remains published in over a hundred anthologies and his fiction and poetry have been included in the Oxford Reading Tree, Oxford Literacy Web and many other schemes. He also had five collections of his own work published. His material has  been broadcast and used by exam boards across the world. Andrew has more recently been forced to take a step back from writing. However, he still loves to party with the poets. Three of Andrew’s can be found in the ever popular The Works, Ed. Paul Cookson, Macmillan.

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Here is one of Andrew’s lovely poems:

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Autumn Leaves

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Around the playground

autumn leaves

parachute down

from half-dressed trees,

silently seeking

hiding places,

with their wrinkled,

yellow faces,

looking for

a rescue boat;

a classroom door;

a child’s coat,

trying to steal

a minute more

until lost for good

on the playground floor.

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© Andrew Collett

 

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Mandy Coe

Mandy Coe is the author of seven books and winner of a number of awards. Her work has featured on BBC radio and television programmes such as CBeebies, Woman’s Hour and Poetry Please. Mandy regularly visits schools through author’s visits and her work on teaching poetry has been published by the TES, Bloomsbury and Cambridge University Press. Her poems can be heard on Talking Poetry, BBC Schools Radio and the Poetry Archive. Her children’s collection, If You Could See Laughter  (Salt 2010) was Highly Commended by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award. Mandy’s website is here

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Here is a poem from Mandy:

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Cancan

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When I dance

my blood runs like a river can,

my feet fly like the birds can,

my heart beats like a drum can.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

 

Flying over rooftops

I see my town below me

where everybody knows me,

where all my problems throw me,

where heavy feet can slow me.

But nobody can, can stop me

when I dance.

 

My blood runs a race.

My feet fly in space.

My heart beats the pace.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

 

© Mandy Coe (From Michael Rosen’s A-Z, The Best Children’s Poems from Agard to Zephaniah, Puffin)

 

Justin Coe

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Justin Coe

Justin Coe is a poet, writer and spoken word theatre creator, specialising in work for young audiences. He has taken his puckish poetics and heart-felt humour all over the world, including to a sitting room made entirely out of newspaper. He loves visiting schools and libraries, and has worked with young people across all age ranges and key stages since 2000, including a four year stint as a resident poet at a school for pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties.. He’s the author of  The Dictionary of Dads illustrated by Steve Wells (Otter-Barry Books, published May 2017). His website is here.

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Justin sent several laugh out loud poems, but I liked this clever villanelle:

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The Great Fire of London (A Villanelle)

London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane!
By bucket and axe, we shall beat this blaze
Or see this fair city forever changed

Fariner, a baker, they say’s to blame
People flee their houses and call out, afraid
“London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane!”

With summer drought, wild winds, no cooling rains
These flames too fierce to tame could rage for days
And see this fair city forever changed

Send for the King’s men. The Thames boils with shame
After the disaster of last year’s plague
London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane!

Whole streets melt like they’re made of paper chains
Houses, churches, holy St Paul’s all razed
Now see this fair city forever changed

Call Christopher Wren. Build it up again
Stone by stone until you are all amazed
London burned! A fire on Pudding Lane!
But see this fair city forever changed…

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© Justin Coe

Jane Clarke

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Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke is the author of many poems in anthologies of children’s poetry, and of over 80 books, some them rhyming. Jane’s been an archaeologist (in London) a history teacher (in Wales) and a library assistant (Antwerp International School, Belgium). It was there, at the age of 40, that she started to write for children. Jane loves animals of all shapes and sizes, country walks, and shell and fossil hunts (she has a big collection of fossil sharks teeth). She enjoys making visits to nursery schools and primary schools to share her love of poetry and stories, and lead creative writing workshops. Her latest rhyming book is I Saw Anaconda, illustrated by Emma Dodd. Jane’s website is here, and her FB page here.

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Jane is brilliant, especially with primary audiences. Here is one of her poems:

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Drop in the Ocean

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Sploshing around

in life’s restless sea,

there’s a drop in the ocean,

and that drop is me.

 

Rocked by the waves,

or washed up on the shore,

I’m a minuscule drop,

among zillions more.

 

I’m a drop in the ocean

of life’s restless sea.

But there’d be no ocean

without drops like me.

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© Jane Clarke

James Carter

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James Carter

James Carter is an award-winning children’s poet, non-fiction and educational writer and INSET provider. He is the author of over 16 popular and best-selling poetry titles. James travels all over the UK and abroad with his guitar (that’s Keith) and melodica (that’s Steve) to give very lively poetry/music performances and workshops In the last 16 years he has visited over 1000 Primary / Prep schools and performed at various prestigious festivals including Cheltenham, Hay and Edinburgh.

His latest poetry/non-fiction picture book, Once Upon A Star (Little Tiger Press) was BooksforKeeps’ Book of the Week March 2018 and his collections of children’s poems include The World’s Greatest Space Cadet (Bloomsbury), Zim Zam Zoom! (Otter-Barry Books). James’ website is here.

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Here is a fabulous shape poem of his:

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© James Carter

Apes to Zebras Launch, Waterstones, Bath, Saturday, 28th April! Please come!

 

Come and join me this Saturday, the 28th of April, at Waterstones, Milsom Street, Bath – I’ll be reading from Apes to Zebras, an A-Z of Shape Poems, and helping any age who wants to write a shape poem! You can do one of the magnetic shape poem puzzles, play with a giant wooden shape poem jigsaw, or have a go with the tempting magnetic poetry. I’d love to see you, whoever you are!

Here is one of the puzzles:


Here is the giant jigsaw:

Shape Poem Puzzle. Part of the Poetry Immersion Kit available when I visit schools. Immerse your class in words and images and sensory input that will inspire the best writing! I also give workshops and readings, lizpoet @ gmail.com

 

And here is the book:

Hope to see you there!

D is for Children’s Poets Shauna Darling Robertson, Jan Dean, Rebecca Kai Dotlich and John Dougherty, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

John Dougherty

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John Dougherty

John Dougherty is probably best known as the writer of around 30 books for children, (including the STINKBOMB & KETCHUP FACE series) but he has also been writing poems and songs since his teens. His first poetry collection, Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies, illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones, was published in 2016, and the following year, his performance to an audience of 1,700 at the Hay Festival was live-streamed to 900 primary schools in Wales. John’s website is here.

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Here is a poem from John (written when he was 18!)

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Note to an English Teacher
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A poem
Is like a hamster
Small
(Unless it is a long poem
In which case
It is like a large hamster)
And lively
(Unless it is a dull poem
In which case
It is like a sleepy hamster).
Admittedly
A poem has no fur
But it has a life
A life of its own
Given it by the poet
(Who is to the poem
As God to a hamster)
And as a hamster 
Does what a hamster 
Was made for
So a poem
Does what it
Was written for.
Perhaps, though,
The most striking resemblance
Is that you can take a poem
Apart
As you dissect a hamster
To see how it works
But, once you have done so, you find
On putting it back together
That, like a hamster in the same situation
It does not work
Half as well
As it used to.
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© John Dougherty

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

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Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Rebecca Kai Dotlich is a poet and picture book author who grew up in the Midwest exploring trails by the creek, reading comic books and building snow forts.  She attended Indiana University. She speaks and teaches about writing for children to literature conferences, with students, teachers and aspiring writers all over the US. Her books have been awarded many honours. Rebecca’s work appears in dozens of anthologies, magazines and textbooks. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Rebecca’s poems:

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A Circle of Sun

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I’m dancing.

I’m leaping.

I’m skipping about.

I gallop.

I grin.

I giggle.

I shout.

I’m Earth’s many colors.

I’m morning and night.

I’m honey on toast.

I’m funny.

I’m bright.

I’m swinging.

I’m singing.

I wiggle.

I run.

I’m a piece of the sky

in a circle of sun.

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© Rebecca Kai Dotlich (From LEMONADE SUN published by Boyds Mills Press)

 

Jan Dean

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Jan Dean

Jan Dean is a British poet and a National Poetry Day Ambassador. She writes poems in a tucked away corner of the house, next to a rubber chicken handbag and Templeton the kiwi.  She has two full collections of poetry, three collaborations and is in over a hundred anthologies.  She visits schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes. Her latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello (written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan). Her website is here.

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Here is one of Jan’s fabulous poems;

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I caught a grasshopper –

 

I caught a grasshopper –

heard its saw-tooth squeaky song

then let my eyes follow my ears

to the pale blade where it sat,

moved soft and slow

so that it wouldn’t know I was there,

cupped it in my hands

before its hairpin legs could flick

and bounce it far away.

 

I caught a grasshopper –

felt it tickle in my pink palms.

Gotcha.  Laughed.

But what can you do

with a grasshopper?

What use is a grasshopper

without the field,

without the sky?

How can it be a green scratch

against the blue

if you don’t let it leap?

 

So I opened the box of my fingers –

It wasn’t mine to keep.

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© Jan Dean (The Penguin in Lost Property by Jan Dean & Roger Stevens. Macmillan 2014)

 

Shauna Darling Robertson

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Shauna Darling Robertson

Shauna Darling Robertson was born in Northumberland in 1968 and now lives in Somerset. She’s had lots of different jobs over the years but none have involved either jazz or maths (this sentence will make much more sense once you’ve read the poem below). Her poems for adults and children have been set to music, performed by actors, displayed on buses, turned into short films, made into comic art, hung on a pub wall and published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Shauna also makes artwork and loves working with other writers, artists, musicians and film-makers to explore and play with poetry in different ways. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Shauna’s great poems:

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HERE’S A LITTLE JAZZ NUMBER

 

Jools the jazz saxophonist

longs to be an accountant.

 

But belongs to a family

of maestro musicians.

‘No son of mine,’ moans Dad,

‘is going to be a number cruncher.’

‘Maths?’ hoots Mum. ‘Don’t

be daft, son. Music’s far more fun,’

as she tunes her harp

for the hundredth time

in half as many days

(Jools did the sums).

 

Jools is a family asset, a one-in-a-million

capital saxophonist. He’s also top-brass

on trumpet, keyboard, drums, bass,

but needs to face up

to his ache to deduct,

divide, round-down, subtract.

 

These are taxing times –

Jools tours the world

and drowns in applause

from adoring fans.

He watches them, bored,

and counts their hands.

 

Reckoned up, Jools has penned

ten thousand, seven hundred and forty four autographs,

appeared on

two hundred and twenty six television chat shows,

and blown his horn in

a trillion towns covering seventy-six per cent

of all credit-rated countries.

 

But here’s the rub –

 

jazz sax

isn’t filling his cup.

He just wants to sit at a desk,

adding up.

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© Shauna Darling Robertson

E is for Children’s Poets Matt Forrest Esenwine and David Elliott, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

David Elliott

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David Elliott

David Elliott is an award-winning author of many picture books and novels for young people, the poetry series On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea, illustrated by Holly Meade, On the Wing illustrated by Becca Stadtlander; and the author of the critically acclaimed BULL, a YA novel in verse retelling the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. His most recent poetry picture book In the Past, illustrated by Matthew Trueman, chronicles life on earth from the Cambrian to the present geologic era, the Quaternary. The delightful In the Past can be bought here. David’s website is here.

This is one of his gorgeous animal poems, which will be in a forthcoming book called IN THE WOODS from Candlewick Press; illustrated by Rob Dunlavey.

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The OPPOSSUM

 

Your rattish snout, your naked tail

dragging on the woodland trail:

you’re not a classic beauty.

 

You bump along the woodland track

your babies clinging to your back:

 

there’s beauty, too, in duty.

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© David Elliott

 

Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Matt Forrest Esenwine

Matt Forrest Esenwine’s children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies including J. Patrick Lewis’ The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015), Kenn Nesbitt’s One Minute till Bedtime (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016), and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ School People (Boyds Mills Press, 2018), as well as Highlights for Kids magazine. Meanwhile, his debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), has received much critical praise. Born just outside of Baltimore, MD, Matt lives in Warner, NH with his wife and kids. His website is here, blog here and Twitter here.

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Here is one of his lovely poems:

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“Apple Stealing”
Moonglow; steadfast, unwitting
cohort,
lights the autumn evening
orchard shadows,
while three devious figures skulk
quietly
between the Macs
and Cortlands.
Grey watercolor brushstrokes soften
the edges;
forms flow
one into the next;
our eyes unreliable,
texture,
distance,
perspective
give way to guesswork
and guile.
Crickets and night birds
knowingly
talk amongst themselves, voyeurs
in anticipation
watching us
from their posts;
fighting
our fears, we dismiss
guilt
ready our bags
plan our attack
and move in, deftly
selecting our prizes.
Suddenly, a rustling –
massive darkness looms
before us, behind, in front, beside
the trees;
bags dropped, we stop
cold, eyes straining, hearts
racing faster, faster
than stone-heavy legs.
Our criminality
laid bare, devil creature
raises its head in frightful judgment…
and bites
leisurely
into fruit.
Horses steal apples, too.
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© Matt Forrest Esenwine

F is for Children’s Poets John Foster and Vivian French, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Vivian French

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Vivian French

Vivian was first published in 1990, after careers in the theatre, counselling and storytelling. Despite publishing around 300 titles, Viv leads a very busy life away from her keyboard conducting writing workshops for both children and adults, teaching at the University of the West of England and the Edinburgh College of Art, and mentoring new writers and illustrators. She has responded with enthusiasm to invitations from schools and libraries throughout the UK, and has toured from Orkney to Oklahoma, and particularly enjoyed running writing workshops in Ibiza and Majorca. She is constantly in demand to contribute to collections and anthologies, and one of her poems was included recently in the anthology Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, edited by Michaela Morgan (Macmillan).

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This wonderful poem by Vivian is the one in the above anthology:

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The Crocodile and the Undertaker

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‘A question,’ said the crocodile

While walking down a hill

‘I’ve drunk a vat of gasoline

Will I be very ill?’

The undertaker rubbed his hands

‘I trust you’ve made your will?’

 

The crocodile looked at him

And shed a silver tear

‘I sometimes think, my oldest friend,

You wish I wasn’t here.’

“No, no,’ the undertaker said.

‘I hold you very dear.’

 

He smiled an undertakers smile

His thoughts were cold as ie

‘A crocodile bag and shoes

Would bring a pretty price…’

But all he said was, ‘Let me buy

You dinner somewhere nice.’

 

‘Once there,’ the undertaker thought

‘I’ll have no more delays.

I’ll light the match. the gasoline

Will make a merry blaze

And so my crocodilly friend

Will end his scaly days.’

 

They found a little baker’s shop

And ordered apple pie

The undertaker lit a match —

It fizzled with a sigh

The crocodile looked at him

And winked his yellow eye

 

‘I think perhaps it’s time to dine

Pray, pass the pepper shaker

Today’s the day, my oldest friend

You go to meet your maker!’

He opened wide his toothy jaws

And ate the undertaker.

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© Vivian French

John Foster

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John Foster

John Foster is an educational writer and children’s poet. As well as authoring twelve books of his own poetry including The Poetry Chest (OUP) and The Land of the Flibbertigibbets (Salt), he is the UK’s most prolific anthologist of children’s poetry, having compiled over 150 anthologies. His best selling books include Twinkle, Twinkle Chocolate Bar (OUP) and the poetry collections illustrated by Korky Paul, such as A Rocketful of Space Poems (OUP). He is a frequent visitor to schools, libraries and festivals as a poetry performer. His forthcoming books include Eggs with Legsillustrated by Korky Paul (Troika) and Don’t Stand Under a Flying Cow (King’s England Press). His website is here.

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I bet you couldn’t beat this brilliant poem by John Foster – but there’s no harm in trying!

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Beat That

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Our dog ran the London Marathon

in under one hour.

He raised over a million pounds

For the Dogs Benevolent Society.

Beat that! I said.

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Our cat went on Master Chef.

He cooked a dish of minced mice

With sparrow’s beak sauce,

He won first prize and is now head chef at The Ritz.

Beat that! He said.

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Our hamster swam the Channel,

Climbed the Eiffel Tower

And rowed across the Atlantic within 24 hours.

He was knighted by the Queen

And became Prime Minister.

Beat that! I said.

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Our rabbit helped Superman

beat off an attack of mutant aliens.

He became King of the World,

and lived until he was 900 years old.

Beat that! He said.

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Our giraffe fought King Kong,

Became Master of the Universe

And ruled for a million years.

Beat that! I said.

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A giraffe couldn’t do that, he said.

This one did, I said.

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© John Foster