lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

G is for Children’s poets Charles Ghigna, Chrissie Gittins, Matt Goodfellow, Louise Greig, Nikki Grimes and Philip Gross, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Philip Gross


Philip Gross

Philip Gross was born in Delabole, north Cornwall. Until recently he was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. He is a Quaker, and that special relationship between words and silence informs much of what he writes; poetry for adults and for children, thought-provoking fiction for young people, schools opera libretti, radio short stories and plays. His children’s poetry includes The All-Nite Café, illustrated by Claire Fletcherwhich won the Signal Award, and Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. Philip’s work enabling poetry in schools over thirty years has often been site-specific, working for many years with the National Trust in Cornwall on their Arts In Trust scheme. His new book, Dark Sky Park, Poems from the Edge of Nature illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry) is available soon, here. His website is here.


Here is one of Philip’s fabulous poems:


Ways of Conquering Everest


… at all, the first time, ever

… by the direct route, in winter

… solo

… without oxygen or breathing apparatus

… travelling light


… all of the above, but barefoot

… without toes

… in secret, like under the bedclothes,

with a torch, by night


… blindfold, trusting your guide


… without maps, or GPS, or compass

… without a clue


… very politely, in the English fashion: after

            you; no, after you

… or if even that feels awkward, then

forming an orderly queue


… the whole family, together

(under 4s come free)

… in the amateur way: did I climb that? Oh!

as if accidentally


… as a tourist, in appalling shorts,

only here for the view

… in swimming costumes or

… sky-streaking

(very quickly, and completely nude)


… by mountain bike

… by yak

… by yeti

… by hook or by crook

… by the skin of your teeth


… by an enormous catapult, fired by a hundred sherpas

from the valley miles beneath


… in high heels      .

… in fun-furry slippers

… in princessy pink


… by extreme patience, with global warming,

without ice (and sooner than you think)


… piggy-back

… wheelbarrow-fashion

… as a three-legged race

… abseiling from a hot air balloon

… skydiving from the edge of space


… by none of the above,

I mean, let’s not go to extremes

… when no one is looking,

not even yourself

… in your dreams


© Philip Gross (from Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry Books, 2018)

Nikki Grimes

© Aaron Lemen


Nikki Grimes

Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time. A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults. As an accomplished and widely anthologised poet of both children’s and adult verse, she has conducted poetry readings and lectures at international schools all over the world, while short-term mission projects have taken her to such trouble spots as Haiti. Nikki has been honoured with the NCTE Award for Poetry and the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award from Kent State University. In 2017, she was presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Her website is here.


Here is one of Nikki’s poems – I think we have all suffered with this!:


Lights out for Linda



I fumble with the heavy

flashlight as midnight chases

morning and the pages

multiply.  It’s past time I put

away this page-turner and

close my eyes, but

the hero is hanging from

a cliff, so I can’t quite quit until

the writer shows me what

happens next.


© Nikki Grimes

Louise Greig


Louise Greig

Louise Greig lives in Aberdeen with her husband and her rescue Greyhound, Smoky, where she writes children’s picture books and poetry.  She has been joint winner of The Manchester Writing for Children Prize 2014, winner of The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2015, winner of The Wigtown Poetry Prize 2015, winner of The McLellan Poetry Prize 2017 and winner of The Battered Moons Poetry Prize 2017. Her debut picture book for Egmont UK was short-listed for The Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2018. Louise loves birds, animals, mountains, rivers, forests and children’s literature. Louise’s Amazon Author link is is here.


Here is one of her lovely poems:


To Be a Bear


To be a bear

is not to be something else

like a chair or a pear.

To be a bear is to love berry-picking.

To be a bear is to love licking your paws

just because.

To be a bear is to love honey,

but not need money to buy it

(can be stolen from bees but do not try this at home).

To be a bear is to slumber and lope,

lumber, grumble and hope (for honey).

To be a bear is to like to roam,

up mountains and down,

to stand at waterfalls all paws and snout

and wait for unsuspecting trout.

To be a bear is to be big, brown and furry

and not to worry

about non-bear things

like what are wings.

To be a bear is not to have to know

the French word for snow (neige),

or “Hello, I am a bear”

(Bonjour, je suis un ours).

To be a bear is only to have to know

the language of bear.

To be a bear is to be a bear

and only a bear.

To be a bear is to be free,

to be wild and to live in a wood.

To be a bear is good.


© Louise Grieg


Matt Goodfellow


Matt Goodfellow

Matt Goodfellow is a poet and primary school teacher from Manchester, England. He is a National Poetry Day Ambassador for the Forward Arts Foundation. His acclaimed debut collection, Carry Me Away, illustrated by Sue Hardy-Dawson, was released in 2016 and his most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), written with Liz Brownlee and Roger Stevens, and Chicken on the Roof  illustrated by Hanna Asen (Otter Barry 2018). He still spends two days a week working as a primary school teacher; on the other days he visits schools, libraries and festivals to deliver high-energy, fun-filled poetry performances and workshops. Matt says he wasn’t supposed to be a poet, he was supposed to be a rock star – but he was awful at music! His website is here.


Here is one of Matt’s gorgeous poems:




She left last week for another school

somewhere out near Hartlepool.

I didn’t cry, I played it cool –

now I wish I hadn’t.


Deleted photos, mobile number,

left her standing there to wonder

why I slipped her arm and shunned her –

now I wish I hadn’t.


They made her cards and sang along.

I wouldn’t, couldn’t sing along.

Swallowed words, held my tongue –

how I wish I hadn’t.


© Matt Goodfellow (from Chicken on the Roof – Otter Barry Books)

Chrissie Gittins


Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins is an award-winning poetry writer for children and adults, and also writes short stories and plays. Her poems have been widely anthologised and animated for Poetry Pie and CBeebies on TV. She has been visiting schools as a poet for over 20 years, is an experienced teacher and has read at festivals all over Great Britain. Chrissie has written 5 children’s poetry collections. Now You See Me, Now You…, illustrated by Gunnlavg Moen, and I Don’t Want an Avocado, illustrated by Kev Adamson, were shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award. Her latest book is Adder, Bluebell, Lobster, illustrated by Paul Bommer. Her website is here.


Here is one of Chrissie’s poems:


The Powder Monkey


This is the moment I dread,

my eyes sting with smoke,

my ears sing with cannon fire.

I see the terror rise inside me,

coil a rope in my belly to keep it down.

I chant inside my head to freeze my nerve.


Main mast, mizzen mast, foremast,

belfry, capstan, waist.


We must keep the fire coming.

If I dodge the sparks

my cartridge will be safe,

if I learn my lessons

I can be a seaman,

if I close my eyes to eat my biscuit

I will not see the weevils.


Main mast, mizzen mast, foremast,

shot lockers, bowsprit, gripe.


Don’t stop to put out that fire,

run to the hold,

we must fire at them

or they will fire at us.


Main mast, mizzen mast, foremast,

belfry, capstan, waist.


My mother never knew me,

but she would want to know this –

I can keep a cannon going,

I do not need her kiss.


Before 1794 children aged 6 upward went to sea. After 1794 the minimum age was 13.


© Chrissie Gittins (This poem won a Belmont Poetry Prize)

Charles Ghigna


Charles Ghigna

Charles Ghigna – or Father Goose® as he is often known, lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults that have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Not only does he speak at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, he has read his poems all over the world. More information can be read in the spotlight on Charles Ghigna, here. His website is here, and this is a link to his latest book, The Night the Forest Came to Townillustrated by Annie Wilkinson. 


Charles is a wonderful supporter of children’s poetry and poets. Here is one of his lovely poems:


The Cold Gray Days of Winter


In the cold gray days of winter

When the sky turns iron blue

And the leafless trees stand silent

With nothing left to do,


There comes a cry across the land

That carries seeds of spring,

The echo of the distant hawk,

The sun upon his wing.


© Charles Ghigna


  1. You’ve been curating some beautiful poems here, Liz – and this post does not disappoint! Beautiful words and imagery from everyone.


    • Thanks, Matt, it’s been wonderful reading them all.


  2. You do know a lot of poets, Liz! Today’s ‘pick’ for me is the reading-under-the-bedclothes poem which reminded me of when I was young.


    • Yes, I didn’t realise how many until I started trying to make a list… and realised one a day was not going to cut it!


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