lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

E is for Children’s Poets Matt Forrest Esenwine and David Elliott, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

David Elliott

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David Elliott

David Elliott is an award-winning author of many picture books and novels for young people, the poetry series On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea, illustrated by Holly Meade, On the Wing illustrated by Becca Stadtlander; and the author of the critically acclaimed BULL, a YA novel in verse retelling the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. His most recent poetry picture book In the Past, illustrated by Matthew Trueman, chronicles life on earth from the Cambrian to the present geologic era, the Quaternary. The delightful In the Past can be bought here. David’s website is here.

This is one of his gorgeous animal poems, which will be in a forthcoming book called IN THE WOODS from Candlewick Press; illustrated by Rob Dunlavey.

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The OPPOSSUM

 

Your rattish snout, your naked tail

dragging on the woodland trail:

you’re not a classic beauty.

 

You bump along the woodland track

your babies clinging to your back:

 

there’s beauty, too, in duty.

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© David Elliott

 

Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Matt Forrest Esenwine

Matt Forrest Esenwine’s children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies including J. Patrick Lewis’ The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015), Kenn Nesbitt’s One Minute till Bedtime (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016), and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ School People (Boyds Mills Press, 2018), as well as Highlights for Kids magazine. Meanwhile, his debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), has received much critical praise. Born just outside of Baltimore, MD, Matt lives in Warner, NH with his wife and kids. His website is here, blog here and Twitter here.

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Here is one of his lovely poems:

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“Apple Stealing”
Moonglow; steadfast, unwitting
cohort,
lights the autumn evening
orchard shadows,
while three devious figures skulk
quietly
between the Macs
and Cortlands.
Grey watercolor brushstrokes soften
the edges;
forms flow
one into the next;
our eyes unreliable,
texture,
distance,
perspective
give way to guesswork
and guile.
Crickets and night birds
knowingly
talk amongst themselves, voyeurs
in anticipation
watching us
from their posts;
fighting
our fears, we dismiss
guilt
ready our bags
plan our attack
and move in, deftly
selecting our prizes.
Suddenly, a rustling –
massive darkness looms
before us, behind, in front, beside
the trees;
bags dropped, we stop
cold, eyes straining, hearts
racing faster, faster
than stone-heavy legs.
Our criminality
laid bare, devil creature
raises its head in frightful judgment…
and bites
leisurely
into fruit.
Horses steal apples, too.
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© Matt Forrest Esenwine

F is for Children’s Poets John Foster and Vivian French, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Vivian French

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Vivian French

Vivian was first published in 1990, after careers in the theatre, counselling and storytelling. Despite publishing around 300 titles, Viv leads a very busy life away from her keyboard conducting writing workshops for both children and adults, teaching at the University of the West of England and the Edinburgh College of Art, and mentoring new writers and illustrators. She has responded with enthusiasm to invitations from schools and libraries throughout the UK, and has toured from Orkney to Oklahoma, and particularly enjoyed running writing workshops in Ibiza and Majorca. She is constantly in demand to contribute to collections and anthologies, and one of her poems was included recently in the anthology Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, edited by Michaela Morgan (Macmillan).

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This wonderful poem by Vivian is the one in the above anthology:

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The Crocodile and the Undertaker

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‘A question,’ said the crocodile

While walking down a hill

‘I’ve drunk a vat of gasoline

Will I be very ill?’

The undertaker rubbed his hands

‘I trust you’ve made your will?’

 

The crocodile looked at him

And shed a silver tear

‘I sometimes think, my oldest friend,

You wish I wasn’t here.’

“No, no,’ the undertaker said.

‘I hold you very dear.’

 

He smiled an undertakers smile

His thoughts were cold as ie

‘A crocodile bag and shoes

Would bring a pretty price…’

But all he said was, ‘Let me buy

You dinner somewhere nice.’

 

‘Once there,’ the undertaker thought

‘I’ll have no more delays.

I’ll light the match. the gasoline

Will make a merry blaze

And so my crocodilly friend

Will end his scaly days.’

 

They found a little baker’s shop

And ordered apple pie

The undertaker lit a match —

It fizzled with a sigh

The crocodile looked at him

And winked his yellow eye

 

‘I think perhaps it’s time to dine

Pray, pass the pepper shaker

Today’s the day, my oldest friend

You go to meet your maker!’

He opened wide his toothy jaws

And ate the undertaker.

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© Vivian French

John Foster

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John Foster

John Foster is an educational writer and children’s poet. As well as authoring twelve books of his own poetry including The Poetry Chest (OUP) and The Land of the Flibbertigibbets (Salt), he is the UK’s most prolific anthologist of children’s poetry, having compiled over 150 anthologies. His best selling books include Twinkle, Twinkle Chocolate Bar (OUP) and the poetry collections illustrated by Korky Paul, such as A Rocketful of Space Poems (OUP). He is a frequent visitor to schools, libraries and festivals as a poetry performer. His forthcoming books include Eggs with Legsillustrated by Korky Paul (Troika) and Don’t Stand Under a Flying Cow (King’s England Press). His website is here.

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I bet you couldn’t beat this brilliant poem by John Foster – but there’s no harm in trying!

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Beat That

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Our dog ran the London Marathon

in under one hour.

He raised over a million pounds

For the Dogs Benevolent Society.

Beat that! I said.

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Our cat went on Master Chef.

He cooked a dish of minced mice

With sparrow’s beak sauce,

He won first prize and is now head chef at The Ritz.

Beat that! He said.

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Our hamster swam the Channel,

Climbed the Eiffel Tower

And rowed across the Atlantic within 24 hours.

He was knighted by the Queen

And became Prime Minister.

Beat that! I said.

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Our rabbit helped Superman

beat off an attack of mutant aliens.

He became King of the World,

and lived until he was 900 years old.

Beat that! He said.

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Our giraffe fought King Kong,

Became Master of the Universe

And ruled for a million years.

Beat that! I said.

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A giraffe couldn’t do that, he said.

This one did, I said.

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© John Foster

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