Hello! I’m Liz Brownlee, National Poetry Day Ambassador! What’s on the poetry roundabout? We have funny poems a day to help give a little laugh to those in isolation, with or without children home from school. There will be photos of Lola my assistance dog, videos and things you can do, and of course, funny poems! Up top you will find some more fun and things to do in the menu. Thank you so much to @mrs_darl teacher for the window to pop us in, and @chriswhitepoet for my little cartoon me and Lola! Welcome!
This Rock, That Rock, Poems Between You, Me and the Moon, by Dom Conlon, with illustrations by Viviane Schwarz, Troika Books.
This collection is full of shadows and light, stillness and life; by turns tender, soulful, imaginative, powerful and contemplative. Subjects address growth, coming to terms with being yourself, life, death, the universe and all within. Many children’s books can be enjoyed by all ages – but this is a book eminently suitable for sharing.
The title poem, This Rock, That Rock, about the Earth and the Moon, ends with the words:
This rock is overflowing with life
That rock is what makes life on the this rock possible
Dom’s poetry, it is a boost into a space in which you may find something which make life possible.
Here is my favourite (although Quietly Remarkable almost won!):
The Last Man on The Moon
Watch carefully, steal a glance
just before the door closes,
as your mum or dad
takes one last look
at your shadow-wrapped face,
and know that through you
they have walked upon the Moon
to memorise every feature
as though this is their last visit –
and it is
for tomorrow you will be older
and you might not let them land
a kiss upon your lips
or hold the glow of your spirit
in their hands. You might not
be as easy to reach
or even see because
yes, there will be days
when you go dark
but even then, you should know
that they will still be there
looking up for the thin crescent
of light to appear in their sky
like the opening of a bedroom door.
© Dom Conlon
Obviously recommended. 5 BIG stars.
This is a challenge to write about a living creature in the first person – as if you were that creature. I am going to be a bird – but you could also be a dolphin, a pig, a fish, a dog, or a frog. It does need to be something you can draw, because later, if you want to, you will make your poem into a mobile!
Keep your lines as short as possible.
The first line of your poem will say what you are.
I am a bird!
For your next line, think about what your choice has on the outside – mine has feathers, but yours might have scales, skin, fur or spines. Describe what these things can feel, but instead of saying ‘feel’ say ‘SEE’. My second line is:
my feathers can see the wind
In your third line, describe the way your choice moves- I have chosen fly, but it could be swim, race, jump, run, or hop, any movement your creature makes.
You are going to describe your creature moving ‘through the dreams of’:
I fly through the dreams of
Then you need to think of whose dreams they move though – grass, sea, waves, a stream? My bird flies over trees. So I have decided on:
I fly through the dreams of trees
Next, choose an adjective to describe your subject. It could be a word that describes appearance or movement or emotion. I could say ‘leafy green’ or ‘swaying’ trees. But I have decided on:
I fly through the dreams of lonely trees
That is your third line finished.
This next line is your last line. You will use the noise your creature makes, and say why they make that sound – using another part of the animal. So if it is a dog, your line might be ‘I bark to make my legs run faster’ or if it is a fish, which cannot make a sound, use whisper – you might say ‘I whisper to tell my scales to shine’. My last line is:
I sing to fill my hollow bones.
So now you have a poem – this is mine:
I am a bird!
My feathers can see the wind
I fly through the dreams of lonely trees
I sing to fill my hollow bones.
Hooray! You might want to put your poem to one side for a day and see if any other ideas come to you. When you next look at it and read it out you might ‘hear’ something that doesn’t sound quite right which you can change. Read your poem to another person – that always helps.
When you are happy with your poem – this is the next step! You are going to make a poem mobile. You will need some fairly stiff A4 paper or card.
Take your paper and fold it in half.
Then fold it in half again:
Open it up and cut along the creases you have made so you have four pieces of paper – if you have large writing or think you will need more space, use two pieces of A4 cut in half.
Now you need to draw your animal four times!
Because I’m drawing a bird, I am using my card sideways on because it is a better shape for drawing a bird. Make sure that whatever you draw, you make it as big as possible on the card. Remember, you need space to write your poem line on each animal! Here is how I drew my bird:
Next, cut your animal out:
And use it as a template by drawing round it for all the other animals:
Then cut the rest out – you should now have 4 creatures, all the same:
Now to write your poem on your animals! Write it in pencil first. One line on each creature. Decide where your writing looks best on your shape. Experiment until it looks right. Try writing with felt tip on a separate piece of paper like the one you have used, to see if the pen shows though. If it does, use a black crayon to go over your writing. If it does not show through, use felt tip. This is because you are going to write on both sides of your creature. When the felt tip is dry, rub out the pencil lines.
Then colour in your animals, both sides! Use coloured crayons if possible so the writing on your animals shows up.
Next you thread the animals together so they can hang from the ceiling or a window. Thread a thick needle with thick thread. This is embroidery thread. You could use thin ribbon or string and make holes with something else – put the holes near the edge but but be careful not to put the holes too near the edge.
I have threaded the needle and thread through the middle top of the bottom animal. I have knotted the end of the thread.
Then I have come back through the bottom middle of the next animal up and knotted the thread when I have decided how long I want it to be – a couple of inches is enough:
Then I attached the next bird up in the same way:
When you get to the top bird thread a needle through and knot and leave the end loose for hanging where you want it to be.
Then you are read to put it up! Here is mine – because it is two sided, it doesn’t matter which way the birds turn, you can still read the poem!
I hope you enjoyed making your poem mobile! Of course, you don’t need to make the mobile, you can just write the poem – I’d love to see any poems and any mobiles you make!
behind a hand of smoke
A while ago I invented a type of poem which I called a ‘tribble’ (which might give you a clue to another of my loves!). I have played it with friends on a writing forum. One person comes up with a noun, (a naming word), the next a verb ( a doing word) and the last person finishes the poem off with a short phrase, that should contain an adverb or adjective (describing words), but could contain just another noun.
It’s an interactive way of writing a poem, and can be great fun, as others people’s ideas spark your imagination.
You could write one with your family, or you could write one with one other person who will choose the verb in the second line. Or you could write one entirely on your own. In that case, you need to write out lots of verbs (skipping, rolling, patting, singing etc), cut them out, and fold them in half, and choose one at random after you have chosen your noun.
I am setting you the task of choosing a nature noun. This is mine:
Ask someone else to look at your noun and add a verb ( a doing word). When I played this with Susan, she added ‘commands’.
Then you add the last line. Keep it to as few words as possible.
the birds to sing.
There! You have a tribble poem.
So – what to do with your tribble? A tribble is very short so it is easy to write inside a card. Why not make a pop-up card to display or to give to someone else? Choose the tribble you like best.
Start off with a piece of A4 paper, sturdy paper or card if possible.
Fold it in half. The card will have its long side fold at the top. This is what it looks like opened up:
Write your poem out neatly on a scrap of paper. See how large it is and how much space it will take up on your card. Make sure it only takes up half the space, less if possible. You will write your poem, not where you would normally write you signature, on the bottom, but on the TOP half of the card, on the left.
I wrote it in the card in pencil first, and decided to make the last line into two lines to take up less space.
Next, close your card and along the fold cut two parallel lines – about half way along the space left over from where you have written your poem. My lines were 3 and a half cm deep.
When you open up the card again, push through where you have cut from the outside – this is what it will look like:
Now you have to decide what you want to pop up when you open up your card. I decided on a tree, of course! The tree or whatever you draw has to be small enough to stay inside the card when it is shut, but big enough to pop up and look good when it is open. Shut the card to measure how big your pop up with be. It has to be smaller than the distance between the bottom of the hole and the edge of the card.
The easiest way to make sure it will fit this space is to cut a piece of paper that big and draw what you want to pop up on it – making it as big as possible.
I did mine by cutting out two pieces of coloured card and making my tree fit the space.
I stuck the tree together. Then I drew a bird onto the back of a coloured piece of origami paper so it was lovely and bright when I cut it out and turned it over. Then I stuck it to the tree.
Then I stuck the tree to the pop up piece in the card, and added some details to the background – I also rubbed out my pencil lines.
When I open and shut the card it works beautifully. But on the outside of the card is a hole where the pop-up is.
This does not matter if you are just going to display it – but if you want to give it to someone you will need to fold another piece of paper to make a cover for your card.
You will probably want to draw on the cover, if it is to be a card! Do this first in case you make a mistake. Then you can stick it to the card or you could staple it.
You could also use the Tribble poem-writing idea to write poem to go in a tiny Poetry Book. Making a poetry book is easier than this!
Hope you enjoy doing this! I certainly did!
I love making paper chains and thought it would be fun to do one with a poem on.
This poem will be all about ADVERBS. Adverbs answer questions like, how, when, where, etc. Adverbs often end in ‘ly’, but not always. We are going to use adverbs to describe how a frog is croaking.
You will write the poem first and then you will make a paper chain frog to write your poem on!
The first line of the poem is ‘The frog is croaking’ and so the first frog in the paper chain will have the words ‘The frog is croaking’ on it.
The last line of the poem is ‘on his log’, which will be written the last frog.
You will need to choose six adverbs to poetically describe how the frog is croaking, to write in on the frogs between the first frog and the last frog.
Maybe you want to describe how the frog is feeling – you might want to say he is croaking sadly, happily, or grumpily. You could draw your frogs expression to match how it is feeling!
Or perhaps you want to choose some rhyming words. You would need three pairs of rhyming words. ‘Sadly’ rhymes with ‘badly’ and ‘madly’ . ‘Grumpily’ rhymes with jumpily. Jumpily isn’t a real word, but in a poem, you can use words that aren’t real, as long as people can understand what you mean and they fit!
You could use your six words to describe a real frog. It’s up to you.
Here is my adverb frog poem:
The frog is croaking:
on his log.
Here is how to make the frog chain – read all the instructions before starting:
Start with one piece of A4 paper.
Fold it in half along the long side:
Cut along your fold so you have two identical strips:
Then stick the strips together with sticky tape so you have one long strip – make sure you tape both sides. (It’s best to do all this with clean hands, and no crumbs of chocolate on your top which drop off as you lean over your paper… not that this happened to me. Oh, no.)
It should look like this:
Then fold each side into the middle.
Until it looks like this:
Then fold each side into the middle again. Make sure all these creases are pressed down nicely.
You now have all the paper folded into the right number of pieces, but they need to be folded in the right way. Open the paper up:
And starting from one end fold the paper into a zigzag:
Some of your creases will be the wrong way round. Just change the way they go as you fold.
You should end up with a piece of paper that looks like this:
Turn your folded paper round the correct way – with an open flap to the left. Now you can draw your frog! Make sure the frogs cheeks and legs go off of the side of the paper. When you cut your frog out, you must make sure you do not cut round the cheeks the whole way or the legs the whole way, because this is where the frog is attached to its neighbour in the chain:
This is where you must not cut:
Cut your frog out!
And unfurl him – can you see why you must not cut the whole way round his cheeks and legs?
How exciting! Now you can write your poem on him. Because he has two sides, you could write two poems!
Look at your poem and decide if you are happy with it. Do you still like your words? Do you want to edit it? When you are ready, write the poem on your frog, in pencil.
Remember, on the first frog you write ‘The frog is croaking’ and on the last frog, ‘on his log’.
You can of course change the words in any way you like! But check they fit first and make sense. Get someone else to read it. Then go over your pencilled poem in thin felt tip or another type of permanent pen.
Then you can use a pencil to put the expressions on your frogs’ faces! When you are happy, go over these in ink, too. Then you can colour in your frogs with coloured pencils – remember, not all frogs are green! They come in ALL colours!
I hope you enjoy this adverb poem frog chain challenge! Send me pictures if you make one!
As part of the Bristol Poetry Festival one year I was asked to provide a poetry exhibition for young people. This expanded with the aid of an Arts Council Grant I applied for into a family exhibition. I decided it would be great to include all my poetry friends who had met recently and produced a poetry book. Poems and illustrations by the poets from that book were enlarged and exhibited on the walls.
I also wanted to include shape poems and so we also wrote, found and shaped other poems, and this was a great success.
Hanging from the ceiling on mobiles were reversible poems – they could be read upwards and downwards.
My husband (a film editor in his work-life) and I interviewed, chose and directed children from ITV Television Workshop to learn and read poems written by the poets, and these performances were intercut with poetry films we had made of all of us at various meetings. These were shown on two screens with headphones, one for older children and adults and one for younger children.
There was a two-sided giant jigsaw puzzle which everyone had fun doing and then reading – we even had timed races to see who could build it quickest.
The best thing was the giant magnetic poetry, on three giant magnetic boards set at different heights. This nearly finished me off – making it was very time consuming, but it still survives and it’s a wonderful prompt for poetry writing. No-one could resist picking up the pieces and playing with the words – which is what poetry is, basically.
It was so easy to find a poem on the boards from a little play and it encouraged expansion of the original words into many, many poems written on the tables, illustrated sometimes, and hung on the poet-tree. Our youngest poet was three and our oldest – well, very old. She was excited to learn that poetry did not have to be about ‘special subjects’ but could be about anything, and set off home to write more. Even if it was just that one lady, it was worthwhile endeavour… but it was a whole lot more than that.
If anyone wants to employ us with this exhibition any time, let us know! The 250 feedback forms were wonderful, full of praise and delight, and the only lament was that perhaps there would never be another.
So many of you enjoyed the Purrfect animation last week, I thought I’d post another – this is my poem Skylark, which is in my book Animal Magic (read it from the bottom up!), and also Dru Marland’s beautifully illustrated book, Inking Bitterns.
Again, the wonderful animation was by Nick Hales, the poem by me.
A poetic and crafty way to use similes and metaphors.
When you say something is ‘similar’ to something else you mean they are very ‘like’ each other.
We use a similar word, ‘simile’ when we are writing. Similes COMPARE two things. If I were to say a flower was ‘like’ , or ‘similar to‘, or ‘as yellow as‘ the sun, I would be using a simile.
The flowers were like little suns = a simile.
The flower’s petals were as pink as Barbie’s house = a simile.
The flower petals had edges similar to saws = a simile.
If you say something IS something else, then you are using a metaphor. If I were to say the flowers are suns, I would be using a metaphor. Metaphors are a more exciting and energetic way to describe something. If I say ‘Julie is like a tiger’ it doesn’t sound quite as exciting as ‘Julie is a tiger’.
The flowers are suns, burning my eyes = a metaphor.
My heart was a bird trying to fly from my chest = a metaphor.
The market is a jungle, filled with bright and noisy people = a metaphor.
How about using colours to write some simile and metaphor short poems?
Small simile colour poems:
like the sky
on the horizon.
Orange as a
Red as a
Small metaphor colour poems:
Blue is the day
above the tree.
are white tents
in the wind.
green leaf hands.
Now the crafty bit!
Write your one line poems on things that are the same colour as the subject of your poem.
Here are two I have done – my ‘blue’ metaphor poem is written on blue paper. I could have drawn a blue sky as well, or stuck collage pieces of blue onto a white background and stuck the poem on top.
I have used collage on my second example -my ‘red’ simile line poem.
If you have written several simile or metaphor lines you can combine them into one poem – you might want to adjust one or more of the lines or change some of your similes into metaphors or metaphors into similes, make something singular or plural or add or take away a word:
The Colours of the Day
The day was
blue sky on the horizon
blue as the sky above the tree,
the flowers were suns
burning my eyes,
orange baby birds’ beaks,
and red as a Valentine’s
Day card shops,
while the air waved
with green leaf hands.
Notice that I have left out some of my lines. I could have called the poem ‘The Garden’ and included mum’s sheets on the line, but I wanted to keep the images to nature, so I left it out.
If I hadn’t had enough lines, I could have added more!
Read your poem out loud after you have put it together. Does it sound right? Could the rhythm be made better by removing a word or adding one?
Perhaps you think you could make the images better, by changing one of the similes or metaphors. I could have changed the white sheet line to: ‘the clouds are white as sheets in the wind’.
Have fun! Send me one! You could use similes and metaphors to write a Covid19 poem. If Covid19 was an animal, what animal would it be? If it was a type of weather, what weather would it be? What sound would it be? What type of smell? Which colour would it be?
If you write Covid19 poem, enter it for my Covid19 competition – details in the link, side bar or a few posts under this.
The British Library has issued a challenge to young people to make a tiny book to read to their toys; their instructions are here.
I’ve often made tiny books, sometimes in a workshop after young people have written their own poems, and they are great fun to make!
Here is an easy way to make your own book – all you need is a piece of A4 paper, some scissors or a craft knife, and someone old enough to use the craft knife! If you wish to make a harder cover, you will also need some card, and elastic bands or a stapler.
Start off with your piece of A4 paper – I suggest making two of these folding books, I’ll explain why later!
Fold the paper in half along the long side; every one of these folds you make must be accurate – make sure the corners meet the corners exactly, and press the crease with your thumb to make sure it is nice and crisp:
Then open the paper up and fold it the other way:
Unfold the paper again and fold both short sides in to meet the middle crease:
When you open up the paper after it should look like this:
Each little square is a page of your book. (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WRITE IN YOUR BOOK NOW, but if you want to do it at this stage, and you are not making a card cover for your book, this next image shows which direction each page will face. The numbers show where the page each square will be in the finished book. So the square at the top left will end up on the outside at the front and will be the cover. The next square though will end up as the back!)
Next comes the cutting bit!
Next stand your paper up like this:
And open up the slit and press the sides into a book shape:
This is your little book. If you are not making a cover, now you can start writing in your poem or story book.
Write the poem/poems first! Remember, whatever you write cannot be very long. You might want to write a line or two on every page. Each two pages when opened up is called a ‘spread’. You could write a poem on one half and illustrate it on the other half.
When you have written your book, you can design your front cover, and write a ‘blurb’ for it on the back. The ‘blurb’ is what publishers call the description of what is inside the book. Make it sound as exciting as you can!
Can you remember I suggested making two little paper books? That is because you can plan on one book, and do a neat copy when you have got it right!
If you are making a book with a cover, this is the plan for the inside of the book:
As you can see, you can write on every page, and you have two more pages.
Now you must make your cover. The cover will need to be made of card, and must be a little bigger all round than your book.
Cut it out and fold it in half:
Don’t put the cover on until you have written in your book. And also when you have decorated or drawn your cover and ‘blurb’ on the back! If you make a mistake you don’t want to have to take it apart.
When your book is finished, lie your book on the opened cover, with the book opened to the middle – you can fix it together using a rubber band if the card is very strong, or staples along the crease if not – staple it from the outside in:
You have written your first book! Congratulations!
Here is my little book of poems that I made yesterday – I have used some wonderful illustrations drawn by the great illustrator Gordy Wright to go with my poems – maybe you know someone who can draw really well who might like to decorate your book, if you don’t want to?
As you can see, I didn’t get the circle of printing quite right when I did the inside line of the poem.
Pygmy shrew and ladybird!
Pufferfish and fairy fly:
Leveret and hedgehog:
And last poem, narwhal.
Here is my blurb!
Hope you like it! Do send your book to the British Library, they want to see them!
Here is my book when it was just one piece of paper – I printed it out on a printer which was a bit fiddly – you could also draw your book on your computer, print it and cut the drawings out to stick them in your book, if that is easier!
Today we have a shape poem, and an animation – thank you to animator Nick Hales who animated the kitten so beautifully!
If you fancy writing a poem yourself, why not enter my Covid19 poetry competition? Details link in the side bar, or a couple of posts down from here!
What looks like half a cat?
¡ɟlɐɥ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɥʇ
Hello! Today, Matt and Roger and I are launching Be the Change, Poems to Help you Save the World in performance – brought to you from lockdown in Manchester, Bristol and somewhere deep in France… we are wondering whether to do some lesson plans for other poems in the book, if you’d like that, could you get in touch so we can gauge demand?
So – without further ado – the poets perform!
Hope you enjoyed that!
Many poems have little tips at the end for ways in which young people can help save the planet with small, achievable actions.
I’m calling this a funny poem – but it certainly wouldn’t be funny if you were stung by this ant! It has the most painful sting of all ants, bees and wasps, and it can cause temporary paralysis. The terrible pain lasts for up to 24 hours. Luckily, it does not kill you!
The Bullet Ant
This creature’s sting is fiery hot.
though it’s so small it’s hard to spot.
“I’VE BEEN SHOT!” its victims pant –
that’s why it’s called the bullet ant!
© Liz Brownlee
The bullet ant is real – but you could write about a dangerous animal you know, perhaps a piranha fish, a tiger or a venomous snake, and only tell lies about the animal in your poem. Maybe you want to make it cuddly… or perhaps give it magical powers, or possibly you might want to exaggerate its dangerousness. Have fun!
Did you hear about the ant that won the Nobel Peace Prize?
˙ʇuɐ-ᴉllᴉɹq sɐʍ ǝH
The great bullet ant image above was taken in Ecuador by Gail Hampshire, gailhampshire on Flikr. It is used with a Creative Commons license.
Today I am launching a poetry competition for young people to write about any aspect of Covid19. Please read the rules before sending your entry off!
The poems can be in any style, rhyming or non-rhyming, funny or serious.
You could write about Covid19 in metaphorical terms – as a tiger prowling the streets, perhaps.
Maybe you want to express how Covid19 makes you feel; what would you like to say to it?
How would you banish it, and where?
Maybe you’d like to write about how your days have changed, what you have been up to during your time with your family, the good things that have happened, things you have enjoyed about being home for an extended time. Think of the little details.
Your poems can be about anything to do with life as it is now.
Please read carefully!
PLEASE STATE YOUR:
on your entry which should all TYPED, no photos of poems, on ONE Word document, NOT in the body of the mail.
Do NOT send photos of written poems or Google documents or anything other than a Word or Pages document.
Send them in by June 15th to the email address under Contact in the menu above.
Do not post your poems online.
The wonderful Roger Stevens of PoetryZone is going to judge!
There are no age-brackets – the competition is open to young people in the UK up to the age of 13, and there will be book prizes, including the following:
Here’s my favourite dog in the bluebells! And a poem below all about different types of dogs. See how many breeds you can guess! Do you have one of them?
Dogs, Dogs, Dogs…
There’s huge hairy mountains
with stalactite drool,
that plunge into rivers
and puddles and pools,
that shake after bathing
in whirlwinds of fur,
and send all their loose skin
a-whizz and a-whirr,
the smell connoisseurs,
with excess of ear
a-flap and a-blur,
the low-slung torpedoes
with bright, soulful eyes,
full of courage and heart
though half a dog high,
the dependable dogs
with table-clear tails,
and loyal without fail,
the bundles of feisty
all tumbles and rolls,
all-go dog dynamoes
that disappear down holes,
the elegant racers
with elongate faces,
who are mostly asleep
when not having chases,
the crosses with charm
and oodles of cutes,
bright as round buttons
in curled or wool suits,
the broad faced with jowls
and shoulders of bulk,
the gentle of nature
belied by their hulk,
the obedient workers,
their unquenchable aim
to round up and herd,
all small dogs and big dogs
the smooth, silky, rough
the plain, spots, and brindles
the meek and the tough
pet dogs and work dogs
a champ or rescue;
the thing they’ve in common
is they all love you.
© Liz Brownlee
Write a poem about your dream pet – it doesn’t need to be a real animal, it could be a unicorn, or a phoenix, or another magical creature with amazing abilities. Or it could be he pet you’ve always wanted. What’s the best thing about them, and the worst? How do they feel, look, sound, smell?
Lovely Laura Mucha has made this wonderful film – do share it everywhere! Go to the film on YouTube and click on the share button to copy the link. Children all over the world saying thank you to key workers – poem by Laura.
As you can see, Lola is extremely good at making paper boats, and origami in general. VERY unlike the hero of Colin West‘s poem, below… Colin is a great favourite here on Poetry roundabout, thank you Colin!
Limericks are always five lines long.
Lines 1, 2 and 5 have the same rhyme, and are longer than lines 3 and 4.
Lines 1, 2 and 5 have a rhythm that goes : duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM
Lines 3 and 4 rhyme have a different rhyme.
Lines 3 and 4 also have a different rhythm: duh DUM duh duh DUM
This is the rhythm of the limerick written out:
duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM
duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM
duh DUM duh duh DUM
duh DUM duh duh DUM
duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM
See if you can write one! They are great fun. Here is another one:
Ducks’ quacks all sound the same. How do they tell whether it is their quack or not if they are all quacking at the same time?
Ducks quack as they’re to-ing and fro-ing,
So they must have some way of knowing,
if a quack is the quack
of a friend quacking back
or their own quack coming and going.