H is for… Too Many Children’s Poets To Fit in! Please See Below!
Raven Howell is the author of several children’s picture poetry books. Her most recent releases, Shimmer, Songs of Night (Spork), available here in the UK and here in the US, and A Star Full of Sky (Daffydowndilly Press), available here in the UK and here in the US, won several awards for Best in Children’s Poetry. She writes poems for a variety of magazines such as Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Stinkwaves, Cricket, Babybug, Hello Highlights, Jack and Jill, and High Five, and enjoys presenting children’s poetry workshops in libraries and to classrooms. She’s a member of the SCBWI, ILA, and is Creative and Publishing Advisor with RedCloverReader. Living in New York’s Hudson Valley, she can be found enjoying the mountains, the summer sun, and when she’s not writing poetry, she’s reading it! Her website is here.
Here is one of Raven’s poems:
In Outer Space
Space doesn’t seem so far;
Glowing above our neighborhood –
A crescent moon
If somebody in space looked back
I wonder what they’d see…
Would they spy my telescope?
Would they notice me?
© Raven Howell (From Shimmer, Songs of Night which was illustrated by Argentinian artist Carina Povarchik, Clear Fork Publishing/Spork)
Jackie Hosking’s most favourite thing to do is write in rhyme and meter. Her second most favourite thing to do is walk amongst the Australian Bush. Her third most favourite thing to do is to combine the two. She also likes to copy other poets as she’s done in her picture book, The Croc and the Platypus, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. (Only available in Australia or New Zealand, I’m afraid!) If you read it very carefully you’ll likely hear echoes of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat. Jackie’s website is here.
Here is one of Jackie’s poems:
Here she comes
whisper the trees
boughs sway heavy
with gossiping leaves
Where will she go?
murmur the breezes
wherever she pleases
Here she comes
whispers the sea
with gossipy glee
Where will she go?
murmurs the sand
wherever she can
Here she comes
whispers the river
gossip like ripples
disperse with a quiver
Where will she go?
murmur the reeds
wherever she needs.
© Jackie Hosking
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials. He has taught elementary school and served as a consultant to school systems throughout the US. In 1989 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” in recognition of his work; and 2009 brought him the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children, recognising his aggregate body of work. In 2010 he received the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award. His books include the award winning Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyds Mills Press), Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems, City I Love (Abrams, 2009), and Full Moon and Star (Abrams, 2011), both illustrated by jazz musician Marcellus Hall. He has an unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom, and is one of the United States’ most sought-after speakers on the subject of children’s literature.
To encourage the recognition of poetry, he has established two major awards: the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually by Penn State University for a single volume of poetry, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by IRA. How fabulous is that? Here is one of his lovely poems:
(For Augusta Baker)
As she speaks
leap from pages —
frog and toad —
yellow brick road.
Worlds of paper
in a room
filled with magic
and as her voice
I believe in
I believe in
Happily ever after.
© Lee Bennett Hopkins (From Jumping Off Library Shelves, Wordsong, celebrating the magic of libraries, illustrated by Jane Manning)
Hannah has won numerous young poets network challenges organised by the poetry society; and she goes in to schools to run poetry workshops. Her first pamphlet Dear Body has been published by Wayleave Press, which details what life is like as a young person with a disability. Hannah writes about her disability as she thinks it is important children and young people understand the challenges that differently able people face. Her blog is here.
Here is one of Hannah’s poems – this was a winner in the August Challenge #2 on Young Poets Network (YPN) 19-25 age group category in 2016.
The lift, a green room for the wheelchair user
The doors are scissor blades –
sever us, give us space.
We exhale in sighs,
hot frustrated hand driers.
Our eyes flash colour, marbles
rolling around our sockets.
These flickering lids speak louder than we could.
We are sinking, quicksand drawing
us through floors as we complain
about the people
bumbling down the stairs.
The doors chime. We reapply smiles
The curtains are open,
we are actors, polite once again.
© Hannah Hodgson
Sophie Herxheimer is a prolific, multi-disciplinary artist whose poetry is fiercely energetic, erudite and punchy. She’s held residencies for LIFT, Southbank Centre and Transport for London. Exhibitions include The Whitworth, The Poetry Library and The National Portrait Gallery. She’s illustrated five fairy tale collections, made several artists books, made a life size concrete poem in the shape of Mrs Beeton sited next to her grave; and a pie big enough for seven drama students to jump out of singing, on the lawn of an old peoples’ home. Sophie does the wonderful artwork for National Poetry Day every year. Recent publications include Velkom to Inklandt, Short Books Ltd. Sophie teaches for The Poetry School and The Royal Drawing School, and collaborates extensively. Her website is here and Twitter here.
Here is one of Sophie’s poems from the above book – the true story of her grandmother, who when she arrived in London as a refugee from Berlin in 1938, was surprised to be called ‘love’ by the bus conductor and others. She took it literally and was much cheered! Bus conductors in those days wore a ticket machine round their neck which had to be wound with a handle to dispense a bus ticket. This poem is of course much better read out loud:
Not zo mainy Dais zinz ve arrivink.
Zis grey iss like Bearlin, zis same grey Day
ve hef. Zis norzern Vezzer, oont ze demp Street.
A biet off Rain voant hurt, will help ze Treez
on zis Hempstet Heese vee see in Fekt.
Vy shoot I mind zet?
I try viz ze busses, Herr Kondooktor eskink
me… for vot? I don’t eckzectly remember;
Fes plees? To him, my Penny I hent ofa –
He nods viz a keint Smile- Fanks Luv!
He sez. Oh! I em his Luff – turns Hentel
on Machine, out kurls a tickett.
Zis is ven I know zat here to settle iss OK. Zis
City vill be Home, verr eefen on ze Buss is Luff.
© Sophie Herxheimer
Steven Herrick is the author of twenty-four books for children and young adults. His books have twice won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and have been shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards on eight occasions. He is widely recognised as a pioneer of the verse-novel genre for young adults. He is also the author of six travel books. He spends nine months of the year visiting schools in Australia and three months on his bicycle somewhere in Europe.
Here is one of his poems – I think every children’s poet has experienced this!:
the poetry visitor
a poet came to our school
and read lots of his poems.
Some were funny,
some even made Ms Stevrakis laugh,
especially the one about kissing.
At the end, Ms Stevrakis suggested
we ask the poet questions about his poetry.
After a long silence,
Rachel asked, ‘How much money do you make?’
Matthew asked, ‘Where do you live?’
Sarah asked, ‘How old are you?’
Tran asked, ‘Can you speak Vietnamese?’
Sam asked, ‘How come you’ve got a bald head?’
and Peter asked, ‘Can I go to the toilet please?’
© Steven Herrick (First published in ‘Untangling Spaghetti’ – published by University of Queensland Press.)
Georgia Heard is a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. She received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University. Currently, she is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and in schools around the United States and the world. She is the author of numerous books on writing including: Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School. In addition, her poems have been widely anthologised and she has published several children’s poetry books including Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky: Animal Poems, illustrated by Jennifer Dewey, Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems, illustrated by John Sandford and The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems, illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé. Her new book Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices is forthcoming in 2019 (WordSong/Boyds Mills Press). Georgia’s website is here and Twitter here.
Here is one of Georgia’s poems:
It skims the pond’s surface,
searching for gnats, mosquitoes and flies.
Outspread wings blur with speed.
It touches down
and stops to sun itself on the dock.
Wings flicker and still:
stained glass windows
with sun shining through.
© Georgia Heard (from Creatures of the Earth, Sea and Sky, WordSong Boyds Mills Press)
Matt Harvey is a writer poet, and children’s poet. He often appears in anthologies, and he has written the rhyming texts Shopping With Dad illustrated by Miriam Latimer, and the Beastie and the Boys, illustrated by Chloe Uden. Shopping With Dad was made into a film by CBBC and has been translated into several languages. Matt has also written lyrics for children’s song cycles, collaborating with composer Stephen Deazley on The Songbook of Unsingable Songs, A Little Book of Monsters and more recently Peck! a schools’ opera for the Mahogany Opera Company’s ‘Snappy Opera’ series. His website is here.
Here is one of Matt’s funny poems (which neatly sums up how I feel about maths!):
Tense Times Table
Once tense is tense
Twice tense is too tense
Three tense is quite stressed
Four tense is fraught
Five tense is frightening
Six tense is tightening
Seven tense is distressed
Eight Tense is taut
Nine tense is intense
Ten tense is uptight
Eleven tense – keep your distance
Twelve tense just might…
Thirteen tense – RIGHT! THAT’S IT! I’ve had it up to here with your tense times table, it’s not a proper poem it’s not a proper times table and that’s the last time you make me make a fool of myself in public… (continue ranting indefinitely, then fade, and look sheepish)
© Mat Harvey
A. F. Harrold
A. F. Harrold
A.F. Harrold is a children’s author and children’s poet who writes and performs for both grown ups and children. He can often be found in school halls pointing at children and sharing his poems, and even more often in the bath, thinking them up… though he’d rather you didn’t come in, thank you, because that would be weird. Just be patient. His latest poetry book is Things You Find in a Poet’s Beard, illustrated by Chris Riddell. A. F.’s Website is here and Twitter here.
He has kindly sent a poem beautifully illustrated by the wonderful illustrator and British Children’s Laureate 2017, Chris Riddell. It happens to be a picture of A. F. himself.
© A.F. Harrold and Chris Riddell
Avis Harley was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has an MA from the University of B.C. where she taught poetry in the Language and Literacy Education Department. An elementary school teacher for many years with teaching experience in Canada and England, Avis has also been a writer-in-residence, mentor, and workshop leader. She has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan. Avis has written several books of poetry for children, and some of her books she has also illustrated. Many of her poems appear in anthologies and magazines, and often focus on the natural world. Her writing reflects a keen interest in experimenting with poetic forms. Avis’ book Africa Acrostics is here (UK) and here (US).
I first found and loved Avis Harley’s work while visiting Canada. Here is one of her poems, a sonnet:
How handy are the monarch’s taste-full feet
reporting where the treasure nectar flows!
Whenever they have savoured something sweet
they phone Proboscis to uncoil its hose.
This gives the butterfly a lovely straw
to carry out her dainty floral sips.
So delicately does she drink and draw,
she never needs to nectar up her lips.
Imagine if we tasted with our toes!
What grounded nectars do you think we’d find?
Soft grass or soil? Cement? Or icy snows?
Cool cotton sheets? The sea? An orange rind?
If we would let our toes seek what we eat,
what smorgasbord would greet our eager feet?
© Avis Harley (From The Monarch’s Progress, all about monarch butterflies, also illustrated by Avis. Published in the U.S. by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press)
Sue Hardy-Dawson is a Yorkshire born poet, artist, and illustrator, and has been widely published in children’s poetry anthologies. She had worked with children for over twenty years. She enjoys visiting schools and has provided workshops for the Prince of Wales Foundation for Children and the Arts. Being dyslexic she takes a special interest in encouraging reluctant readers and writers. Her first solo collection, of illustrated poems, Where Zebras Go (Otter-Barry Books) was long listed for the North Somerset Teachers’ 2017 Book Award. She has a new collection of shape poems, Apes to Zebras (Bloomsbury) with Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee. Her second solo collection If I Were Other than Myself (Troika) is due out in spring 2019.
Here is one of her wonderful poems with its illustration, also by Sue:
where zebras go
where the amber river slows
where the alligator wallows
where the cruel acacia grows
where the hippo haunts the shallows
Where the sleeping lions doze
where antelope meekly swallows
where the sky and land sit close
where the trees are dark as gallows
Where the hot wind ebbs and flows
where the grass is coarse and fallow
where the plains grow dry as bones
where the earth is scorched and yellow
Where the desert soil corrodes
where the trees are parched and sallow
where vultures stoop in funeral clothes
where the clouds are looming shadows
Where the dust creeps down the road
where the air is still and hollow
where mountains fall and woodlands close
where the mud is thick as tallow
where the elephants leave their bones
where gazelle and bison follow
where the great Sirocco blows
where the rains go, zebra goes
© Sue Hardy-Dawson (From Where Zebras Go, Otter-Barry Books)