A is for Children’s Poets Adisa the Verbaliser, Deborah Alma, Moira Andrew and Philip Ardagh, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA
© Dotty Hendrix
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:
Goodbye, Good Boy
Old, old friend.
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
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.
But first the pain.
Who knew unhappiness
Could feel like this?
You thump your tail on the
My heart-bursting wish,
Trough burning eyes,
To turn back time.
Goodbye, Good boy.
© Philip Ardagh
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 Popescu, Poetry Space, 2016, available here. Moira’s website is here.
This is one of Moira’s gorgeous poems:
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
I’d gild his claws
like shining swords
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
I’d use all reds and
yellows – crocus, saffron,
geranium, cyclamen, rose –
and fierce orange flames
from a marigold.
© Moira Andrew (First published in Dragon Poems, by John Foster & Korky Paul, (OUP 1991)
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.
Here is one of Deborah’s poems, written in response to the picture shown:
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.
© Deborah Alma
Adisa the Verbaliser
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.
Here is one of his fabulous poems:
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
© Adisa the Verbaliser