Hello! I am Liz Brownlee, a British poet and author – I write children’s poetry. I’m also a National Poetry Day Ambassador for the Forward Arts Foundation.
My Twitter name is @lizpoet
My alternative blog, for all things poetry-related, is Poetry Roundabout.
This paragraph is for children who like to know these things and ask me questions! I love writing poetry, and try to do some writing every day – and I also read lots, as that is very important if you are a writer. I wrote lots of poems as a child, a very long time ago, but then I didn’t write for a long time until I had children. My first poem was about my son, and it was my third poem that was published. The first time I was published was in 2000 – when I was 41!
I’m lucky to live in a 400 year old cottage in a village with my husband Peter, who is a wildlife film editor, mainly for the BBC. We have two grown up children, our daughter and our son. I have a dog, Lola – Lola is a medical alert dog, and she alerts me if I have low or high blood sugar, as I have no warning symptoms. she is 12 now and retiring soon – I have a puppy, Paddy who may take over if he passes all his exams!
I hope you enjoy looking through this blog – it has poems and information, and my poetry news. There also a link to Poetry Roundabout, my website with general children’s poetry news and other fun things!
My books and some reviews:
Review by Ana on Amazon:
“Liz Brownlee has astonishing empathy for the animal world. She doesn’t just observe, she inhabits her subjects. She cares deeply about animals and makes us care by homing on the essential character of each species. Diversity is more than the mere shuffling of DNA. We share her fascination with the results of that process. The fine-tuning of the animate to its surroundings produces delightful quirks of design; each one individual, precious and irreplaceable. She expresses all of this in language which is exquisite, poignant and frequently witty. It can be read by children and adults with equal enjoyment. I can’t think of a better way to educate children about wildlife and conservation.”
Review by bobdylansnose on Amazon;
“This is a fantastic book to be enjoyed by animal lovers of all ages. My Y6 class loved the poems and were enthralled to learn about some of the incredible creatures; there were gasps when I read the info about the Madagascan Robber Moth and its diet of tears, and the poem became the catalyst for their own writing. Liz is a wonderful weaver of words, and every poem is a cracker! She can do the glacial beauty of ‘Snow Petrels’ and ‘Snow Leopard’ but also the gentle warmth of ‘Orangutan.’ A thought-provoking collection that should be in every school library – and on YOUR bookshelf!”
Review by Jacqui on Amazon:
Review by Justin on Amazon:
“There’s nothing wrong with creating collections about football or the seasons or emotions or festivals/celebrations but there are plenty of them in the world of children’s poetry. This collection celebrating extraordinary women and girls of history – as well as exploring the realities of growing up a girl in contemporary times – is extraordinary in itself. The poetry is enjoyably readable and cleverly crafted mixing a wide variety of poetic styles. Boudica, Rosa Parks and Malala are among the many woman that get a mention. A real breath of fresh air for those interested in either history or poetry and a must for the classroom.”
Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls won the prestigious national North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2017 for poetry and is available here.
Review by Sue on Amazon:
“‘The Same Inside’ is a beautifully written and wonderful book of poems that everyone needs in their life. It takes you on a journey celebrating and valuing all that is good about being human and the diverse people we share our planet and our lives with.
Each of us will experience these poems differently but all of us will find our friends, our families and even ourselves among these pages. Both joyous and reflective it sometimes brings a lump to the throat.
So often though it makes you smile and feel hopeful. A lovely book to share with children and a must for all teachers planning assemblies and lessons on empathy and understanding. It tackles some tough subjects with great sensitivity and in a very accessible way. It reminds us that we all have fears and dreams and as such we have much more in common than we have differences.”
The Same Inside, Poems about Empathy and Friendship, was shortlisted for the prestigious national North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2018 and is available here.
Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy- Dawson and Roger Stevens have created a truly memorable poetry book in ‘Apes to Zebras‘. They have selected, almost laboratory like, the most perfect words with which to sculpt each animal focus into an image. Every subject is analysed, realised and almost eulogised in its own beautiful poem.
‘R’-Rooks for example, is presented as a series of L- wing shaped, adjectives and observations spread across a portrait A4 page, black to a heather- grey background.
‘G’- Giraffe, is a stretched rhyming poem:- ‘Giraffe is made of speckled light/ his head’s a long way from his knees/ and if you doubt he looks quite right/ it’s so his tongue can reach his knees….
The variety, interest, quality of poetry and presentation are superb.
We recommend ‘Apes to Zebras‘ highly for bedtime reading, reading alone, for classrooms and forever.
Although they have got the line of the poem wrong – it’s ‘so his tongue can reach the trees’.
‘Apes to Zebras‘ is an exceptional poetry creation. Each selected animals is described through specific words and careful shapes. Every poem image is unique, powerful and individual. This is a superb book. We recommend it as a gift, as a reference point, and as an essential inclusion in every home and classroom library shelf.’ BookwagonUK
The idea of words arranged to form a shape stretches back to ancient times. There are examples from Greek Alexandria in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, where words have been shaped to form an egg, wings and pan pipes.
It’s a very natural form to have been adopted by children’s poets with its immediate visual impact. And visual impact this new anthology by three renowned children’s poets certainly has!
Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Roger Stevens have collaborated to produce a rich collection of alphabetically ordered shape poems taken from the animal world. Hardy-Dawson and Brownlee have artfully shaped each poem, enhanced by Lorna Scobie’s delightful illustrations.
All too often, the lyrics of shape poems for children can be overtaken by the need to fit them into the shape. This volume demonstrates how skilful shaping can complement rather than compromise the lyricism and rhythm of the poem. ‘Emperor Penguin’ (p. 30) depicts a shapely penguin and, despite not following a regular two-line pattern for its rhyming couplets, is still easy to read rhythmically. Standing on spindly (one word) legs, ‘The Giraffe’ (p.35) also achieves an easy rhythm despite the challenging outline.
Consistently clever shaping means that the adage ‘less is more’ is so true of this volume. Look at the repetition of ‘Burnt paper cuts slitting the moon / bats at dusk’ that swoop across the moon and dark sky in ‘Bats’ (p. 10) or the crafty swirls of the mosquito (p.60): ‘I’m coming to get you’ eddying closer and closer with its ever-increasing font size. It’s a delight to spot the ‘er’ of ‘spider forming the owl’s face in ‘Barn Owl’ (p.8).
These are poems that demand to be closely observed: a ‘b’ leaps out of ‘because’ to create a flying bee in ‘Bees’ (p.13). And then there’s a puzzle for the children who may wonder why all the ‘b’s thereafter are not attached to words – until they spot them at the bottom of the page (apparently falling away: the poem is about the plight of threatened bees today). In Peacock (p.74), punctuation joins in with the fun with an arch of exclamation marks outlining the peacock’s extended tail, attached to the body with the words ‘eyes’.
There are cross-curricular possibilities of course as we encounter some little known animals – the quokka (p.82), a cute, ever-smiling animals who makes a sprightly prance across the page. Equally charming are the depictions of smaller birds (Humming bird (p.44), Robin (p.84) and Wren (p. 118).
There are wonderful humorous touches too. A magpie (p. 56) shaped entirely in ‘m’s (mmm!) sits atop her ‘treasure nest’ of booty, each item descriptively shaped (‘bottle top’, ‘silver foil..’) and I won’t spoil the sheer laugh out loud quality of ‘Stick insect’ (p.100).
The book concludes with a couple of useful ‘You try’ suggestions. This beautifully designed book with its ingenious and shapely poetry needs to find its way into every classroom!
128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.
Reviewed by: Alison Kelly
Apes to Zebras won the prestigious national North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2018 for poetry and is available here.
And coming soon, February 25th 2021!