Posted in Introduction

Welcome to poetry roundabout!

Poetry Roundabout is the go-to place to find anything and everything about poetry for young people. Poems do not have to be written specifically for young people to be accessible to them; content is however always suitable. This is a place of fun poetry, interesting poetry, lyrical poetry, poems in all different forms and shapes and sizes!  Visit for interviews with the best children’s poets, poetry news, how to write poems, poems of course, and poetry book reviews… and more besides! For teachers, young people’s poets, and poets who are young people!


Sea Star comes from the book Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems, written by Liz Brownlee, Sue-Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, Pub. Bloomsbury.

Posted in A-Z Blog Challenge 2018

An Amazing A-Z of Young People’s Poets and Poems From All Around the World! ©AtoZChallenge

My A-Z this year features brilliant, published poets and their fabulous poems for children and young people!

What is a children’s poem? Well, most poets who write for young people agree that is it any poem accessible to a child.

It does not have to be a poem specially written for a child to spark their imagination, their wonder, their interest, or to send shivers up and down their spines.

Although of course children are perennially sent into fits of giggles by words and ideas they see as ‘rude’, these poems in fact make up a tiny percentage of the poetry in books aimed at youngsters. Yes, most of the poems contain humour; but as well as poems to make them laugh, there are also poems to make them think, poems to make them gasp, poems that make them cry, poems to interest them in history, science, nature, animals, art…

A poem sits in a space that is contained – it has a beginning, middle and end that is immediately apparent. It is not a frightening prospect to venture a reading of it. They can encourage a young person who is not so keen on large chunks of prose to enjoy their first book.

A poem has rhythm and is satisfying to read out loud or silently. It often rhymes, making the words chime, and delicious to g0 back and repeat.

The poems are often frameworks for ideas, and life experiences and worries and changes the young person might be struggling with. They can give children a set of words, a vocabulary to express themselves. They can give PERMISSION for the expression of a children’s own emotions and concerns.

They are little puzzle parts that make up a world of experience, feeling and knowledge, any one of which might inspire a young person in any number of ways.

Over the next month I will introduce you to some of the wonderful people who make up the singularly delightful and fun group – those who write poems accessible by children. Each poet’s entry will contain a poem they have written, a link to their book or website and a short biography about them.

I hope you have as much fun reading as I have/will have writing each entry! I am SO excited, they have some FABULOUS poems to share with you!



Posted in Poet's Piece

Why I Like Poetry, by Zaro Weil

Zaro Weil lives in an old farm on a little hill in southern France with her husband and two sheepdogs, Spot and Clementine, alongside a host of birds, insects, badgers, wild boars, crickets, donkeys, goats, hares and loads more. She has been a lot of things; dancer, theatre director, actress, poet, playwright, educator, quilt collector and historian, author, publisher and a few others. All of which I would say fit into being a poet like a hand fills a glove.

She has written several books including a book of children’s poetry, ‘Mud, Moon and Me’ published by Orchard Books, UK and Houghton Mifflin, USA. Her poetry for children has appeared in many anthologies. Zaro’s new book, illustrated by Jo Riddell, with poetry, little plays, tall tales, raps, fairy tales, and haiku is here.

Here she kindly shares her article, Why I like Poetry:





I like to write poetry.

One reason is because I think in pictures. A lot of people think in pictures. It’s MAGIC. It’s like dreaming when you’re awake.

And when you write poetry, you can figure out how all these unrelated pictures can come together and become an exciting brand new picture. A poem. A poem which you express with words; words which don’t necessarily follow a normal logical order.

It’s something totally surprising and totally YOURS.

Not to mention electrifying. It’s like pulling a white rabbit out of  a hat. Only the hat is your head and the white rabbit is this poem that’s been waiting inside you anxious to jump out.

Another reason I like to write poetry is because sometimes when I see something, it makes such an impression on me – a WOW moment – that I want to remember it forever.

Example.  One day I look out of our kitchen window and see the neighbour’s cats playing in the snowy garden. That night I can’t help it. I think about those two cats over and over. It makes me smile. Suddenly the first few lines of the poem jump into my head:

Two pussycats


Pawed in my


People have many ways of creating poetry.

Here’s how I do it.


First I take all kinds of pictures from my mind that don’t seem to go together. Sometimes I don’t even think very hard because the pictures just pop, spin, fly, slide, bounce, and roll into my brain for some reason.

Suddenly this strange group of images are somersaulting around in my head. And nothing makes any logical sense. SO, I make comparisons – I find ways to link the images. I compare a blue blue sky to a field of summer bluebells or to my friends’ sparkly blue eyes.  In my mind they are all alike in some way because they are all too blue to be true. Or I compare the sunrise to a big orange beach ball bouncing in slow motion over the horizon or to a galloping unicorn anxious to start the day. I used this idea of a unicorn in one of my favourite poems that’s in FIRECRACKERS. This unicorn was drawn by the wonderful artist who created all the pictures for the book, Jo Riddell.


And then PRESTO it becomes totally another way of seeing things – my own private way. There are a million and one images to compare and another million and one images to compare them to. And more. Much, much more. But the truth is creating poems is a puzzle; an imaginative word and idea puzzle, one which is totally fun and intriguing to work out.


I keep saying the image words and phrases in my head over and over and re-arranging them on paper or on screen, like furniture in the living room, until I like how they all work together. And as I repeat these words over and over (and often out loud) to myself, eventually I discover the poem’s true secret beat; it’s special rhythm which makes the poem sound just like it should.

Here it’s super-important to learn to trust what you like. After all, you write to make someone happy first of all and that someone is YOU!



(This is a page from my beautifully bruised and battered old poetry notebook. These crazy scribbles eventually turned into Comet, which appears in my new book, FIRECRACKERS. Funny, isn’t it?)

SOMETIMES the words can rhyme and that is fun. Sometimes they don’t. It depends on what I feel like doing with the words and ideas that day. Or rather what the words and ideas feel like doing with me that day.

Poetry is funny like that.  You have to be open to it. In other words, you (the you you know very well) can’t always control what goes in or out of your brain. A poet has to trust that there are things they don’t know and wait for the ideas or words from their secret selves to pop out. (This is the tantalising and mysterious part of the whole thing.)

THEN after combining the pictures, the words, and the sounds in an order that I choose, the poems turn out to have a particular meaning.  This meaning reflects how I am feeling at any one time. So my poems can be funny, or sad, or unsettling, or lovey, or worried, or silly, or frightened, or bittersweet, or happy.  Or a host of other things as well.  And sometimes really not even that obvious to me at first.

FINALLY here is the key thing in my magical poetry world. When I am writing, I know deep down I have something I really want to say.  But believe it or not, I don’t always know what it is.  So, I keep on writing and finally, if I am lucky and the stars are with me, I arrive at exactly what I mean to say. And there is kind of epiphany!  An AHA moment. The moment when the poem flies across the plate like a home run and makes sense.And that is the most exciting thing.

To have figured out a little bit of what is going on inside me.

To have created something exciting and new.

And to have found a personal link between me and the whole world out there.

That’s why I like poetry so much – it is a wonderful puzzle to work out and the results are totally unexpected and totally strange and always and forever MAGICAL.

Posted in Poetry News

Win a Copy of Apes to Zebras, an A-Z of Shape Poems!

Wow. It’s pretty gorgeous, isn’t it? I am so PROUD of this book, written with my lovely poet friends Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. We worked very hard on this book – and Bloomsbury have done us proud. It’s for 8 and up, but children as young as 3 have been enjoying it, because the words are in shapes, apparently! Here is a link to the latest of it’s fab reviews, this one from The Reader Teacher.

Bloomsbury are giving one away in the UK – all you have to do is click on the link to enter.

“WIN a copy of our gorgeous new poetry book by @Lizpoet @SueHardyDawson and @PoetryZone PLUS a sumptuous A3 print and fun postcards by liking and sharing our pinned Facebook post by Thursday 22nd March!”

Click here to enter: http://bit.ly/2DvIFuy

Good luck!


Never Such Innocence Poetry Competition – Last Few Days to Enter!

The Never Such Innocence Poetry, Art & Song competition is open to everyone aged 9-16. You can enter individually, or submit multiple entries using their easy online form or you can post your entry.

But there’s only 3 days to go, so get writing a poem inspired by the First World War.

Details here.

Posted in Poetry Videos

Snow Geese Solstice by Susan Richardson, read by Slavka Liskova

Susan Richardson writes the most beautifully atmospheric poems about wildlife. Here is a link to her new book – Words the Turtle Taught Me. Susan is embarking on a tour performing work from Words the Turtle Taught Me on her Thirty Coastal Readings for Thirty Threatened Species tour at venues all round the coast of the UK. Details on her website, here. Slavka Liskova is an actress who read this poem for us on National Poetry Day 2015.

Posted in Poetry Videos

Gerard Benson’s River Song – read by the poet himself

Gerard Benson is one of my favourite poets who wrote for young people. He sadly died in 2014. Here is a link to one of his wonderful poetry books for children: To Catch an Elephant

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – My Aunties Come from Yorkshire by Jonathan Humble

My Aunties Come From Yorkshire


I have a lot of aunties,

A dozen rare and best;

They’re spread around in t’county’s towns

Up north, south, east and west.


These aunties are quite feisty,

Formidable and tough.

In times of strife their pluckiness

Shines out when things get rough.


A case in point is Rita;

Demure and introvert,

Ostensibly a dear old thing

In pinny and tweed skirt.


But Aunty Rita’s fearless,

Despite her dodgy knees,

She treks up t’jungle rivers

In her slippers, saving trees.


With thick prescription glasses

And loosely held false teeth,

She’ll scale up t’steepest edifice,

Ignoring what’s beneath.


For Aunty Rita’s famous

Within that SAS;

No lurking foe could lay her low,

Or make her acquiesce.


If wading through a swampland

And struck by t’deadly snake,

She’ll give it what for with t’handbag

Then leave it in her wake.


She’s part of Yorkshire folklore,

With daring tales abound,

A place where dear old aunties

Can amaze, shock and astound.


© Jonathan Humble


Jonathan Humble is a teacher and a poet – his website can be found here.

Posted in International Womens Day

Haiku, by Sydell Rosenberg for #InternationalWomensDay


tangled in the leash

a little girl jubilantly

walks her neighbour’s dog.


© Sydell Rosenberg, slightly edited by Amy Losak.


Sydell Rosenburg‘s alphabet book, H IS FOR HAIKU, Penny Candy Books, can be bought here.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – To My Daughters, by Sue Hardy-Dawson

To My Daughters

Girls rejoice, I did not wish you other,
though there is so much blood from birth to birth,
and the moon’s monthly shadow, I love you.
Some say we have it easy here, some do.
At best it’s luck really. Then there’s the whole
in His own image thing. Give me a Her
sweet Mother Earth, Mother Nature, they scold
but at least they nurture. Brothers, fathers
you are still our blood sisters. Look to your
daughters, are they not both clever and so
beautiful? Do not squander such wise gifts
do not mock us, we cannot help our breasts
no more than you, your lack, remember this
even snakes have forgotten the apple.


© Sue Hardy-Dawson 2016


Sue’s lovely book, Where Zebras Go, Otter-Barry, can be found here.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – Personal Preference by Helen Laycock


I don’t like pink or sparkly bling
or crowns and coronets or rings
or taffeta, or lace or silk
or sweet and frothy strawberry milk.
I don’t like lipstick, scent or soap
or notes in floral envelopes
or fairies, wands and glittered wings;
I’m just not into girlie things!
I like spiders, beetles, bugs,
hearty pats, not feeble hugs.
I like to climb and scrape my knees.
I’m not afraid of wasps and bees.
I like the space to say my piece,
to learn mechanics, smeared with grease.
I want to make things, find out more…
dice with danger, win, explore.
Please let me have the freedom
to take which parts I choose;
the world’s a gift to all of us
to cherish and to use.



© Helen Laycock


If you’d like to see what else Helen writes, here is a link to her website.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay ‘Girls of the Week’ by Michaela Morgan

Girls of the Week

Monday’s girl stands up proud.
Tuesday’s girl speaks clear and loud.
Wednesday’s girl likes to dream and ponder.
Thursday’s girl loves to wander.
Friday’s child can be slow – or speedy.
Saturday’s child will help the needy.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
is as good as the rest in every way.


© Michaela Morgan


From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – Supermarket Blues by Carole Bromley

Supermarket Blues

I don’t want to be adorable,
I want to be a high flyer,
I want to be as ugly as I like
and zoom over the rooftop
of the person who thinks
it’s a cute idea for girls
to wear pink and for boys
to hog all the other colours
in the rainbow I’ll fly over
not wearing the frilly top
with the soppy mouse on.


© Carole Bromley


Carole’s website is here. Her book, Blast Off, can be bought here.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – Frida Kahlo, by Dru Marland

This brilliant poem is by Dru Marland – poet and illustrator.


© Dru Marland

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – The Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes

Bobby Riggs, a 1939 tennis champion, unwisely asserted that the female tennis game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him. In 1973, Billie Jean King, who fought constantly for recognition and equality for women in sport, accepted his challenge, determined to beat him. She felt it would set the progress of women back fifty years if she lost and affect all women’s self-esteem. In front of a worldwide television audience of almost fifty million, she beat him easily. The match was called ‘The Battle of the Sexes’.


Bobby Riggs, tennis champ,

said a woman couldn’t

beat a man . . .


Billie Jean King, tennis champ,

in three straight sets, showed

a woman can.


© Liz Brownlee


From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in Poetry in Education

Poetry Book for #InternationalWomensDay!

This is the one I’d recommend (unsurprisingly!). It was written by me, Jan Dean, and Michaela Morgan to chime with the 100th anniversaries of the work by suffragists from every walk of life.

Here’s the review in Lovereading4kids:

New poems by three of our brightest and liveliest poets are gathered together in this anthology which celebrates women and girls, lots of them. The lives of the really famous – Malala, Frida Kahlo, Amy Johnson, Hillary Rodham Clinton – are discussed, the roles of women in fairy tales debated, and the achievements of women whose names we’ll never learn acknowledged too. The poem styles are as varied as the book’s subjects, and there are poems to make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you think. It’s a sparkling collection, inspiring and empowering. Buy copies for all the young people in your life. ~ Andrea Reece

Since then it has won the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for Poetry.