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

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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.

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Here is one of Philip’s fabulous poems:

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Ways of Conquering Everest

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… 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

extremely

… 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

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

Nikki Grimes

© Aaron Lemen

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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.

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

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Lights out for Linda

Alliteration

 

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.

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© 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.

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Here is one of her lovely poems:

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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

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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.

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Here is one of Matt’s gorgeous poems:

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Gone

 

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

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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.

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Here is one of Chrissie’s poems:

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The Powder Monkey

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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.

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

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

Charles Ghigna

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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. 

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

 

The Cold Gray Days of Winter

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In the cold gray days of winter

When the sky turns iron blue

And the leafless trees stand silent

With nothing left to do,

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There comes a cry across the land

That carries seeds of spring,

The echo of the distant hawk,

The sun upon his wing.

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© Charles Ghigna

A Snow Fall of Poems

#AtoZChallenge Poetry Competition!

Hidden in the A-Z of Best Children’s Poets there are FOUR poets who don’t exist – their names are the anagrams of real poets on the list, each of whom have written a false bio and a poem for their alter-ego! Guess all four and you stand a chance of winning Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens.

At the end of the A-Z send your entries to poetryfunfactory @ gmail.com. Include your name, the answers, email address and U.K. address. The competition closes on 12 May. Judgement is final. The winner will be informed by email and the result posted here.

H is for… Too Many Children’s Poets To Fit in! Please See Below!

Raven Howell

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Raven Howell

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.

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Here is one of Raven’s poems:

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In Outer Space

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Looking through

My telescope

Space doesn’t seem so far;

Glowing above our neighborhood –

A crescent moon

And stars.

 

If somebody in space looked back

I wonder what they’d see…

Would they spy my telescope?

Would they notice me?

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© Raven Howell (From Shimmer, Songs of Night which was illustrated by Argentinian artist Carina Povarchik, Clear Fork Publishing/Spork)

Jackie Hosking

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Jackie Hosking

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.

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Here is one of Jackie’s poems:

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Wherever

 

Here she comes

whisper the trees

boughs sway heavy

with gossiping leaves

 

Where will she go?

murmur the breezes

 

However, whenever

wherever she pleases

 

Here she comes

whispers the sea

droplets colliding

with gossipy glee

 

Where will she go?

murmurs the sand

 

However, whenever

wherever she can

 

Here she comes

whispers the river

gossip like ripples

disperse with a quiver

 

Where will she go?

murmur the reeds

 

However, whenever

wherever she needs.

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© Jackie Hosking

 

Lee Bennett Hopkins

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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 PoemsCity 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:

 

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Storyteller

(For Augusta Baker)

 

As she speaks

words

leap from pages —

.

there are

friends like

frog and toad —

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I walk

down a

yellow brick road.

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Worlds of paper

disappear —

.

only

Miss Augusta

and I

are here

in a room

filled with magic

story

rhyme.

.

and as her voice

reaches

the highest

rafter —

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I believe in

 

once-upon-a-time

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I believe in

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Happily ever after.

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© Lee Bennett Hopkins (From Jumping Off Library Shelves, Wordsong, celebrating the magic of libraries, illustrated by Jane Manning)

Hannah Hodgson

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Hannah Hodgson

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.

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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.

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The lift, a green room for the wheelchair user

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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
like lipstick.

The curtains are open,
we are actors, polite once again.

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© Hannah Hodgson

Sophie Herxheimer

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Sophie Herxheimer

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.

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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:

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london

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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?

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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.

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Zis is ven I know zat here to settle iss OK. Zis

City vill be Home, verr eefen on ze Buss is Luff.

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© Sophie Herxheimer

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Steven Herrick

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Steven Herrick

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.

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Here is one of his poems – I think every children’s poet has experienced this!:

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the poetry visitor

 

Yesterday

a poet came to our school

and read lots of his poems.

Some were funny,

some sad,

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?’

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© Steven Herrick (First published in ‘Untangling Spaghetti’ – published by University of Queensland Press.)

Georgia Heard

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Georgia Heard

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.

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Here is one of Georgia’s poems:

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Dragonfly

 

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.

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© Georgia Heard (from Creatures of the Earth, Sea and Sky, WordSong Boyds Mills Press)

Matt Harvey

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Matt Harvey

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.

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Here is one of Matt’s funny poems (which neatly sums up how I feel about maths!):

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Tense Times Table

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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)

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© Mat Harvey

A. F. Harrold

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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.

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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.

 

 

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© A.F. Harrold and Chris Riddell

Avis Harley

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Avis Harley

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).

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I first found and loved Avis Harley’s work while visiting Canada. Here is one of her poems, a sonnet:

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FEET TREAT

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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?

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© 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

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Sue Hardy-Dawson

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. 

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Here is one of her wonderful poems with its illustration, also by Sue:

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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

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© Sue Hardy-Dawson (From Where Zebras Go, Otter-Barry Books)

I is for Children’s Poets Will P Ideal, Häppahl Idrïg, Inky (Peter Bicot), and Kent Ibsen #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Kent N. T. Ibsen

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Kent N. T. Ibsen

Kent N. T. Ibsen (better known as Kent Ibsen) is a relative newcomer to children’s poetry (he used to be a teacher and before that a double bass player in an orchestra!) but is becoming known for his high energy, hilarious performances, which involve juggling, hamsters, jelly beans and even a tight-rope walk while reciting a poem.  Kent’s website is here.

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Here is one of his funny poems:

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My Mirror Likes to Argue

My mirror likes to argue.
He likes to fight and feud.
He often disagrees with me.
He’s regularly rude.

He’s fond of making faces.
He loves to sneer and scowl.
And, if I scream and shout at him,
he’ll holler, hoot, and howl.

I wish I’d never met him.
I wish he’d go away.
I wish I didn’t chance upon him
several times a day.

I think perhaps the next time
he starts to disagree,
I’ll smile at him to see if maybe
he’ll be nice to me.

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© Kent N. T. Ibsen

 

Inky and Spider (Peter Bicot)

Photo Credit: Spider-Dog

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Inky and Spider (Peter Bicot)

Peter Bicot, known as Inky, spent his childhood in the south of France and moved to London when he was eight. He has had poems published in small press magazines and has been working with schools in south London. He has become famous for his poetry performances which involve his dog Spider who barks in time to the chorus of Peter’s poems! Peter’s website is here.

If you want to book Inky, his email is peterbicot1 @mail.com

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Here is one of Peter’s poems (without a chorus!):

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Fly

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The fly’s mosaic eye

is a red lens;

a loud speaker,

with nothing to say.

An anonymous stare

glares back.

Its body armour

gleams oily green.

Hairs bristle

as the domestic alien

waits – spindle legs

planted from a sci-fi film

and brittle wings flick,

glossed as glass,

flexed for take off.

Fly off the wall,

out of the ointment,

fly-by-night

under the radar,

what wouldn’t you harm?

A futuristic chin

thistles needles.

The air stills

as it tickles

your hand.

Greedy fossicker,

carrier of parasitic disease

flies with ease,

teases with a fickle tickle,

tastes with soft feet,

greets food with vomit,

then drinks liquid filth;

debris-dealer,

garbage-czar,

exoskeletal-superstar.

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© Peter Bicot

Häppahl Idrïg 
Photo Credit: *Saipal
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Häppahl Idrïg 
Häppahl Idrïg is a Norwegian poet, well-known for using landscape and weather to describe the human condition. He is famous for his performances in schools across Scandinavia. I haven’t included his website as it is entirely in Norwegian, it was quite difficult finding a translated example of his work!
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Here is one of his succinct poems:
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WEATHERED
Ice, solid with possibilities,
Weathered by the biting tongue
Of scolding parents;
Shaping their future,
Reducing the block
To shards.
Translated by A.S. Rudin
© Häppahl Idrïg
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Will P. Ideal (PhD)

Will P. Ideal (PhD)

Even though it was an honorary award Will is proud to use his doctorate to help promote that wonderful thing that is poetry. He is currently enjoying a residence in the UK, and particularly loves writing humorous, to the point poems that he hopes will entertain children and adults alike.

Will is a very private person and usually has no internet presence at all, so I am thrilled he has allowed me to post this. He works by word of mouth alone.

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Here is one of his poems:

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A Poem of few Words

 

Some poems are chatty

Some poems are quiet

Some banquet on words

This one’s on a diet.

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© Will P. Ideal (PhD)

 

J is for Children’s Poet Mike Jenkins, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Mike Jenkins

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Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins is a poet, fiction-writer and blogger for adults and young people who lives in Merthyr Tudful, s. Wales. He’s a retired teacher of English who occasionally conducts creative writing workshops for children and adults. His book of stories and poems in Merthyr dialect ‘Barkin!’ was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year in 2012. His poetry collection for children is Poems for Underage Thinkers illustrated by Catrin Meirion (Pont). Mike’s website is here and Twitter here.

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Here is a poem from the above collection:

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My Gran

 

My Gran feeds the cat

on bits of cheese,

on bits of chocolate biscuit

crumbled up ;

the cat isn’t very pleased.

She calls her ‘Pussy Puss’ –

sometimes she calls the cushion

by the same name.

 

My Gran burns kettles,

burns meals-on-wheels,

has been known to burn

a hole in her dress ;

accuses the Home Help

of stealing her handkerchiefs.

Finds hankies and washes them

dirtier than they were before.

 

My Gran falls through the floor

every morning, needs cups of tea

to bring her round to insanity ;

needs glasses of sherry

to help her forget

that she can’t remember.

Phones the butcher

to phone the doctor.

 

Lays tea at five

and supper at nine,

asks her dead husband

the time of year,

the day of time.

Blocks her bedrrom door

with a bulky bureau

which screams every night

like a ghost.

My Gran likes only one

piece of toast

for tea and breakfast.

 

My Gran plays patience

and cheats ,

drinks only one glass

of sherry a day,

yet two bottles in half a week.

Threatens to have me turned out,

to call the police.

 

She’s mad I think,

or the clocks have stopped.

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© Mike Jenkins (from his poetry collection for children, Poems for Underage Thinkers, Pont.)

AtoZChallenge Fun Poetry Competition!

Hidden in the A-Z of Best Children’s Poets there are FOUR poets who don’t exist – their names are the anagrams of real poets on the list, each of whom have written a false bio and a poem for their alter-ego! Guess all four and you stand a chance of winning Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens.

At the end of the A-Z send your entries to poetryfunfactory @ gmail.com. Include your name, the answers, email address and U.K. address. The competition closes on 12 May. Judgement is final. The winner will be informed by email and the result posted here.

K is for Children’s Poets Alan Katz, Mike Kavanagh and Jacie Kay, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Jackie Kay

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Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. Jackie writes for adults as well as children; her children’s titles include Strawgirl (Macmillan) and Red Cherry Red (Bloomsbury), available here, which won the CLiPPA (CLPE Poetry Award).  Alongside books, Jackie has written extensively for stage and television; her play BRINK was performed at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester.  She is also Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.  She made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002 and was awarded an MBE in 2006.  More recently, in March 2016, Jackie Kay was named Scots Makar—the National Poet for Scotland. You can read more about Jackie here.

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This is her moving poem:

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My Face is a Map

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I was born with a map of Australia on my face;
it was beautiful, my mother told me –
there was nobody like me in the whole wide world
who could trace the edges of down under
on the raised and grafted song line of her face.

I was connected to the upside-down people,
to those who loved the bush and the kangaroo.
I could never smile or frown or weep
in case my special map fell off my face.
My face was pulled tight, so that nobody got lost.

I held my head steady and I held my head high.
When people gaped and gawped and gawked
I thought they were trying to find Alice Springs,
to work out where they wanted to go, where they’d been.
And when somebody stared for a very long time

I would simply ask if they’d been down under:
the hardest human heart melts when it sees a koala bear.
My words were slower than other children’s
because my map was stitched to my mouth:
every time I managed a whole sentence

I imagined a small boat floating out of Sydney harbour.
Yesterday there was talk of peeling my map off,
changing my face, so that it looks like others;
my mother said I should have a long think,
and that maybe life would be easier…

I am thinking now, staring hard into the mirror.
I trace the hard edges of the world in my face.
I know the hard stares of some people.
Without my map, will I be the same person?
Will I know where I am, where I have been?

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© Jackie Kay (From Red Cherry Red, Bloomsbury, winner of the 2008 CLiPPA award)

Mike Kavanagh

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Mike Kavanagh

Michael Kavanagh was born in Toronto in 1971 and studied at Queen’s University in Canada, and University of Glasgow. He lives near Oxford, with his wife and four children. His poems have appeared in anthologies such as Read Me At School (Macmillan), and Michael Rosen’s A-Z, The Best Poetry from Agard to Zephaniah (Puffin). He founded and edited a children’s poetry magazine called The Scrumbler which has since stopped publishing.

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The Scrumbler was a wonderful magazine – I’m hoping for a revival! Here is one of Mike’s poems:

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Potions

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For warm summer weather
mix Dandelion and Heather.

For everlasting sweets
mix Wisteria and beets.

For exploring a forest path
mix bark and rotten leaf.

For days off school, playing in snow
mix Hawthorn and Sloe.

For winter days to pass
mix Night Shade and frosted grass.

To disappear without a trace
mix Old Man’s Beard and Mace.

To get your own room
mix Rose and Lemon Balm.

For late nights, TV, staying up
mix Daffodil and Buttercup.

If you plan to run away
mix sedge and hay.

If you’re ready to come back home
mix Snowdrop and Teasel comb.

To sit and be your very own age
mix Forget-me-nots and Sage.

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© Mike Kavanagh

 

Alan Katz

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Alan Katz

Alan Katz is a six-time Emmy-nominated writer for The Rosie O’Donnell Show and other talk shows, animated series including PBS’s new Pinkalicious, Nickelodeon series and specials, and game shows. He has also created hundreds of comic books, trading card sets, web series, and other special projects for kids. He has written more than 35 books for young readers, including his newest picture book, an ode to dads and kids illustrated by Chris Robertson, called If I Didn’t Have You. His poetry collections include OOPS! and        Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking (both Margaret K. McElderry Books, illustrated by Edward Koren). His website is here.

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Here is one of Alan’s funny poems from OOPS!

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Contraction Dissatisfaction

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It wasn’t isn’t.

It isn’t wasn’t.

It can’t be shouldn’t.

It shouldn’t be doesn’t.

It mustn’t be wouldn’t.

It wouldn’t be mustn’t.

It mayn’t be mightn’t.

It mightn’t be mayn’t.

I’m skipping this homework.

To go out and playn’t.

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© Alan Katz

L is for Children’s Poets Renée LaTulippe, Alistair Lane, J. Patrick Lewis and B. J. Lee, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

B. J. Lee

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B. J. Lee

B. J. Lee lives in Florida. Her poems appear in anthologies, including Construction People (ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins), The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry and The Poetry of US (ed. J. Patrick Lewis), One Minute Till Bedtime, illustrated by Christoph Niemann (ed. Kenn Nesbitt), available here in the US and here in the UK, and many others. Her debut picture book is coming soon.Here are B. J.’s  Website and Poetry blog

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This is her lovely poem and photo illustration, first published by Renée LaTuilippe on her website, No Water River.

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© B. J. Lee

 

J. Patrick Lewis 

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J. Patrick Lewis 

After a wild and rugged youth as a bronco rider, lobster fisherman, opera singer, confidential police informant,  Economics professor, and Russian spy—he has been to Moscow thirteen times (shhh!)—J. Patrick Lewis is now  in the Federal Witness Protection Program in XXXX, Ohio, USA with XXXX, his wife, and two vicious K-9 guard  toy poodles. Please do not ask to see his secret tattoos. His alter ego, J. Patrick Lewis poet, has published 110 children’s picture and poetry books to date with Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt,  Little, Brown, National Geographic, Creative Editions, Chronicle, Scholastic, and others. The Poetry Foundation named him the third U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011-2013). Recent books include the series Let’s Celebrate Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween,  and Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis. His website is  here.

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Here is one of his lovely poems;

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How the Yellow Jacket

Lost her Shyness

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The King of England

Once was stung

Upon his royal bottom,

And you could hear

A yellow jacket

Yell, “Oh, boy, I got ‘im!”

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And that is how

The yellow jacket

Finally lost her shyness,

And how the English

Came to call the King

“His Royal Highness!”

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© J. Patrick Lewis

 

Alistair Lane

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Alistair Lane

Alistair Lane is an emerging poet, writer, and performer, who writes for both children and adults, and an active member of the “DIY Poets” collective. His work can be found online, in local zines, on post-it notes on vending machines, performed at friends’ weddings, written in the sand on beaches, and has even graced the good buses of Guernsey. He blogs occasionally here, and was nominated as “Funniest Blogger” in the 2016 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.

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Here is one of his poems:

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The Snail In My Garden

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There’s a snail in my garden

Hiding in its shell

I’m not sure where it’s been

It’s sometimes hard to tell

 

There’s one thing though that troubles me

And causes me some doubt.

The answer to this question:

Is it in or out?

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© Alistair Lane

Renée LaTulippe

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Renée LaTulippe

Renée M. LaTulippe’s poems have been widely published in anthologies for children, including School People, illustrated by Ellen Shi, One Minute Till Bedtime, illustrated by Christoph Niemann, and National Geographic’s forthcoming The Poetry of US . She has also co-authored nine early readers. Renée earned her BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College and her MA in English Education from New York University. She teaches The Lyrical Language Lab, an online course for children’s writers. She lives by the sea in Italy. Renée’s brilliant website is here. Her excellent poetry blog with many resources is here.

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Here is one of her poems, a wonderful pantoum:

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HAPPY: pantoum for a perfect day

 

What manifestation of happy is this?

Striding outside where grass greens my feet,

dragonflies dart in snapdragony bliss—

Morning and I promenade down the street.

 

Striding outside, where grass greens my feet,

I greet swooping bluebirds out bluing the sky.

Morning and I promenade down the street:

we’re fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh!

 

I greet swooping bluebirds, out bluing the sky…

“Tick tock!” whisper shadows as Sun pulls them long.

Like fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh,

afternoon falls to the whippoorwill’s song.

 

“Tick tock!” whisper shadows as Sun pulls them long.

Dragonflies dart in snapdragony bliss.

An afternoon falls to the whippoorwill’s song—

what manifestation of happy is this!

 

© Renée M. LaTulippe 2015

M is for Children’s Poets Roger McGough, Trevor Millum, Michaela Morgan, Brian Moses, Cheryl Moskowitz, and Laura Mucha, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Laura Mucha

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Laura Mucha

Laura Mucha worked as a face painter, studied flying trapeze, philosophy and psychology, and swam in Antarctica before becoming a lawyer. Now she spends most of her time playing with words. Her poetry has been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, and she’s performed on BBC Radio, at festivals and in schools. In 2016, she won the Caterpillar Poetry Prize. You can read and listen to Laura’s poetry here.

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This is one of Laura’s great poems:

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DEAR UGLY SISTERS 
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Bread has been baked, veggies are chopped,
salt in the pan – kitchen’s been mopped,
skirts have been washed, hoovered the floor,
took out the bins – polished the door,
cleared up the bathroom, cleaned up the sink,
washed all your socks – still really stink,
ironed the laundry, folded the sheets,
serviced the car – here’s the receipt,
dog for a walk, cat to the vet,
married a wonderful prince that I met,
leaving tonight, so good luck with the chores,
I’m dropping my apron and keys by the door.
FROM
CINDERELLA
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.© Laura Mucha
Cheryl Moskowitz

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Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz writes for adults and children. She loves going in to schools to get pupils, teachers and parents writing their own poems! Her poems for children have appeared in recent anthologies, Is This a Poem? illustrated by Spike Gerrell (Bloomsbury, ed. Roger Stevens) Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, illustrations by Tenniel, (Macmillan, ed. Michaela Morgan) and Watchers of the Skies, illustrated by Emma Wright (The Emma Press, eds. Rachel Piercey & Emma Wright). Her popular collection of poems about home, school and everything in between, Can It Be About Me?, illustrated by Ros Asquith, is published by Janetta Otter-Barry Books. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Cheryl’s poems from Can it be About Me?:

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Imagine your life was like a book you could make crossings out and adding to. There might be some things you’d change but certain things you’d decide to leave exactly as they are.
 
FRIENDS
 
Think of all the people you have known,
and the ones you haven’t met yet.
Think of the parties, the sleepovers,
the games, the conversations.
Think of the walks and the talks
and all the silly arguments.
Think of all the times you’ve felt happy
and all the times you’ve felt sad.
Think of all the things you’d like to do
and all the things you’ve done.
 
If you had it to do all over again
Would I still be your best friend?
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© Cheryl Moskowitz
Brian Moses

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Brian Moses

Brian Moses has been a professional children’s poet since 1988. He has over 200 books published including volumes of his own poetry such as A Cat Called Elvis and Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses (both Macmillan and illustrated by Chris Garbutt), anthologies such as The Secret Lives of Teachers and Aliens Stole My Underpants (both Macmillan) as well as picture books. Over 1 million copies of Brian’s poetry books have now been sold by Macmillan. His poem ‘Walking With My Iguana’ is one of the most listened to poems on the Poetry Archive. Brian has visited well over 3,000 schools to run writing workshops and perform his own poetry and percussion shows in the UK and abroad; CBBC once commissioned him to write a poem for the Queen’s 80th birthday! His website is here, blog is here, and Twitter is here.

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Brian is a kind and indefatigable supporter of children’s poets and poetry. Here is one of his fab poems:

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All The Things You Can Say to Places in the UK

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Always say ‘Ta’ to Leamington Spa,

say ‘Have a nice day’ to Whitley Bay.

You can shout ‘What’s new?’ or even ‘Howdo’

to inhabitants of Looe or Crew.

You can tell the whole story in Tobermory,

say ‘Hi’ to Rye and ‘Right on’ to Brighton,

or call out ‘Let’s go’ to Plymouth Ho.

Talk through your dreams in Milton Keynes,

say ‘It’s all for the best’ in Haverfordwest.

Always say ‘yes’ when you visit Skegness

but only say ‘No’ in Llandudno.

Don’t tell a lie to the Island of Skye

or say ‘It smells’ in Tunbridge Wells.

Don’t talk rude if you’re down in Bude

or start to get gabby in Waltham Abbey.

Don’t ever plead in Berwick on Tweed

or say ‘You look ill’ to Burgess Hill.

You could lose your voice and talk with your hands

when you take a trip to Camber Sands,

but whatever you say just won’t impress

the inhabitants of Shoeburyness.

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© Brian Moses

Michaela Morgan

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Michaela Morgan

Michaela has had over 140 titles published including poetry, picture books, junior novels and non-fiction. She is a regular visitor to schools, has been shortlisted for the BBC Blue Peter Award (twice), and has won a UKRA (now UKLA) award, and many others. Her 2016 poetry book Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, illustrations by Tenniel, was shortlisted for the prestigious CLiPPA Award for poetry and her 2017 collection Reaching the Stars: Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls co-authored with Jan Dean and Liz Brownlee has just won the North Somerset Teachers’ Award.  She is about to release a newly updated and extended third edition of How To Teach Poetry: Writing Workshops, in which she stresses the importance of poetry across the curriculum.

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Michaela is great fun – here is one of her great more serious poems from Reaching the Stars:

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Malala

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A girl with a book.

A girl with a book.

That’s what has scared them –

A girl, with a book.

 

They get onto the bus.

They call out my name.

They aim. And they fire.

A shot to the brain.

 

Because a girl with a book,

A girl with a voice,

A girl with a brain,

A girl with a choice,

A girl with a plan

To have rights, like a man.

That’s what they’re scared of

One girl, with a book.

 

A girl who has words.

A girl with a pen.

A girl to be heard

With support of her friends

Who want to live free –

That’s what they fear

a girl just like me.

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© Michaela Morgan

Trevor Millum

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Trevor Millum

Trevor is a writer and performer of short stories and poems for children and has published lots of other stuff too. His poems are widely published and anthologised. He is also an experienced workshop leader and is well known for his work on creativity and developing the use of ICT in English.  His website is here.
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Here’s ‘Sunday in the Yarm Fard’ from his book,  A Stegosaurus is for Life and other Animal Poems, illustrated by Elaine Hill.
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Spring in the Yarm Fard

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The mat keowed

The mow cooed

The bog darked

The kigeon pooed

 

The squicken chalked

The surds bang

The kwuk dacked

The burch rells chang

 

And then, after all the dacking and the changing

The chalking and the banging

The darking and the pooing

The keowing and the kooing

There was a mewtiful beaumont

Of queace and pie-ate.

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© Trevor Millum

Roger McGough

Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS

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Roger McGough

Roger McGough was born in Liverpool and received the Freedom of the City in 2001. President of the Poetry Society, he presents the popular Radio 4 programme Poetry Please, and has published more than a hundred books for both adults and children. His most recent book, 80, which contains 80 of his wonderful poems to celebrate his 80th birthday, is illustrated by the author himself. It is available here. In 2005 he received a CBE from the Queen for his services to literature. His website is here.

I love You Tell Me, illustrated by Korky Paul and written with Michael Rosen. People my age must feel, like me, that they have known him all their lives – he is certainly one of Britain’s best loved poets.

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Here is one of his brilliant poems:

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The Colour Collector

 

A stranger called this morning

Dressed all in black and grey

Put every colour into a bag

And carried them away

 

The goldenness of cornflakes,

The ivory of milk

The silverness of soup spoons,

The see-througness of silk

 

The greenness of tennis courts

When play has just begun

The orangeness of oranges

Glowing in the sun

 

The blueness of a dolphin

Nosing through the sea

The redness of the breast,

The yellowy blur of a bee

 

The creaminess of polar bears

Sliding on the floes

The little piggy pinkness

Of tiny tickly toes

 

The sky that smiled a rainbow

Now wears a leaden frown

Who’s sobbing in the circus tent?

Wizzo the monochrome clown

 

A stranger called this morning

He didn’t leave his name

We live now in the shadows

Life will never be the same

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© Roger McGough