lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

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

John Dougherty


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.


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


Note to an English Teacher
A poem
Is like a hamster
(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).
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
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.
© John Dougherty

Rebecca Kai Dotlich


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.


Here is one of Rebecca’s poems:


A Circle of Sun


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.


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


Jan Dean


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.


Here is one of Jan’s fabulous poems;


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.


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


Shauna Darling Robertson


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.


Here is one of Shauna’s great poems:




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.


© Shauna Darling Robertson

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