Robert Schechter’s children’s poetry has appeared in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, and various major anthologies. Winner of the 2016 XJ Kennedy Parody Award, his adult poems and translations have been widely published in literary magazines and in weekly humour contests in The Washington Post, The Spectator, The New Statesman, and elsewhere. His website is here.
Here is one of Robert’s poems:
The “Just Because” Hug
Bears will hug you cause they’re mean,
so watch out for their claws!
But I don’t hug you cause I’m nice.
I hug you just because.
There is no rule that says I must.
There are no ‘hugging laws,’
no hidden motives to discuss.
I hug you just because.
I do not hug you to reward
your virtues or your flaws.
Can you guess the reason why
I hug you? Just because.
When life’s too busy, rushing by,
sometimes I like to pause
and wrap my arms around you. Why?
I hug you just because.
Just because I have two arms.
Be glad it’s not two paws!
Just because it feels so good,
I hug you. Just because.
This is an A-Z list of children’s poets from the UK, US and round the world! If you are a published children’s poet working in schools and would like to be considered for inclusion, please send an mail to Lizpoet @ gmail.com
Adisa the Verbaliser
Adisa the Verbaliser
Adisa was born with a silver tongue and a head full of rhymes. He exploded onto the spoken word scene in 1993. His mango flavoured metaphors and his larva-fuelled performances soon became legendary on the London performance poetry circuit. One year after taking his showon the road, Adisa landed first place in a National competition titled New Performance Poet of the Year. Benjamin Zephaniah, who was one of the judges said: Adisa is the future. It’s so good to have something to look forward to. Adisa’s really amazing website with contact info is here.
Here is one of his fabulous poems:
I am carnival
London is no longer naked
Picasso’s brush has kissed human skin
The world unites on one doorstep
Now the masquerade can begin
A million voices crescendo
All speaking the same tongue
The sound system speaker pays respect
To the godfarther the African drum
A sea of hands holds the heavens aloft
As if offering the creator a prayer
Baselines embrace slippery waistlines
The rhythm is so moving, even the statues shed a tear
Deborah Alma is the Emergency Poet in her vintage ambulance which she takes to schools and libraries and festivals. She has edited three adult poetry books and written her own collection of poems too. She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales with a cat called Little My and a sheepdog called Daisy. Her website is here.
Here is one of Deborah’s poems, written in response to the picture shown:
Moira Andrew was born and educated in Scotland, became a primary teacher, worked her way up to Assistant Head, then lectured in education at Craigie College of Education, Ayr before moving to Bristol where she was Head Teacher of a primary school. During the 80s, 90s and into the 2000s she wrote stories and poetry for children. Her most recent poetry collection is Wish a Wish, illustrated by Anna Popescu, Poetry Space, 2016, available here. Moira’s website is here.
Best known as an author of children’s prose (and for his beard), Philip Ardagh also writes poetry for all ages; his poems appearing in a variety of anthologies. These include Green Glass Beads, collected by Jacqueline Wilson, Read Me and Laugh, collected by Gaby Morgan, A Million Brilliant Poems (part one), collected by Roger Stevens, and Puppy Poems collected by Gaby Morgan. This is Philip on Tumblr and on Twitter. I know Philip as a very, very funny man – this poem doesn’t reflect that, but it is one of my favourites of his:
Carole Bromley lives in York where she has taught in schools, a Sixth Form College and at York University. She now tutors for the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society and the Poetry School. She was shortlisted for Manchester Writing for Children Award, and performed at CLiPPA Awards 2016. Her poetry collection for children, Blast Off! illustrated by Cathy Benson, is available here. Carole is available for workshops and readings in schools and at festivals.
Ed Boxall lives in Hastings, a seaside town in the South of England. He is a writer, illustrator, performer and educator and likes to make poems, pictures, stories and songs. He has written and illustrated several picture books but in recent years Ed has realised he loves writing poems best and has his first full collection Me and My Alien Friend which will be published by Troika in 2018. Ed also publishes his work through ‘The Pearbox Press‘. These books are quite unusual black and white picture books that illustrate Ed’s surreal story-poems. Ed’s favourite is High in The Old Oak Tree about a boy who spends his whole life up a tree. He runs workshops, residencies and special events based on his writing and illustration, and performs in schools, arts centres, galleries and at festivals. Ed’s Website is here.
Ian Bland has work published by Macmillan, Scholastic, AC Black, Oxford University Press and Hands Up Books to name just a few. His poetry was recently featured on BBC1’s Match of the Day and he has performed many times on regional and national radio. Since 2000 Ian has worked as a professional children’s poet and performer and has visited literally thousands of schools, libraries and festivals both here in the UK and all over the world. Ian’s website, where you can buy copies of his books, is here.
Here is one of his poems:
As well as being poet, Ian is a children’s author and stand-up comic for kids; his stand up show has taken him round the world, including Brunei where he performed for the Sultan’s grandsons. As an educationalist he has also taken his literacy performance and workshop into 3,500 schools. He has 23 books to his credit! His latest poetry book is Lost Property and can be found here. Ian’s website is here, and Twitter here.
Here is one of Ian’s poems!
POEM – DOOR
Dad took our front door back to the hardware store He was angry, in a fit. “Why bring back your door to this hardware store? It’s odd I have to admit.” “I brought back this door to this hardware store, I’m so angry I could spit, I brought back this door to this hardware store, ‘cos somebody’s already opened it!”
Clare fell in love with poetry when she was very young. She started writing poetry of her own and one poem about the horrors of hockey was printed in the school magazine. After that, she wrote song lyrics for a local performance; wrote plays in verse for children; poems about the children she taught; and eventually her poems began to appear in proper anthologies! Now her work is in over a hundred poetry books – and in fiction and poetry books of her own such as Ballerina, Fairy, Mermaid and Princess Poems for Macmillan Children’s Books. Clare loves visiting schools to pass on the joy of reading and writing poetry. Read more about Clare here.
Here is one of Clare’s gorgeous poems:
Who will bring me the hush of a feather ?
“I,” screeched the Barn Owl. “Whatever the weather.
Who will bring me the shadows that flow ?
“I,” snarled the Tiger. “Wherever I go.”
Who will bring me the colours that shine ?
“I,” shrieked the Peacock. “Because they are mine.”
Who will bring me the crash of the wave ?
“I,” sang the Dolphin. “Because I am brave.”
Who will bring me the secrets of night ?
“I,” called the Bat. “By the moon’s silver light.”
Who will bring me the scent of the flower ?
“I,” hummed the Bee. “By the sun’s golden power.”
Who will bring me the waterfall’s gleam ?
“I,” sighed the Minnow. “By river and stream.”
Who will bring me the strength of the small ?
“I,” cried the Spider. “When webs line your wall.”
Who will bring me the shiver of snow ?
“I,” howled the Wolf Cub. “When icicles grow.”
And who will bring me a nest, furry warm ?
“I,” squeaked the Rat. “When we hide from the storm…
Debra Bertulis wanted to be a writer all her life. She now writes children’s poetry, plays and is busy working on a middle grade novel and a collection of her own poetry. As a teacher of speech and drama, Debra is passionate about her work at an outstanding Primary Academy. She has been published in poetry magazines including Caterpillar Magazine, and anthologies, including Is this a Poem? Ed. Roger Stevens, Bloomsbury, and also a recent Bloomsbury Education series by Brian Moses including Poems about the Seasons. Her latest publication is in Joshua Seigal’s upcoming I Bet I can Make you Laugh, Bloomsbury Education. She enjoys visiting schools across the country with Authors Abroad. Her website is here.
Cynthia Cotten has been writing fiction and poetry for young people for more than 30 years. She has published several critically-praised picture books, including Snow Ponies, This Is The Stable, and The Book Boat’s In, and has poems included in numerous collections, including America at War, Jumping Off the Library Shelves, illustrated by Jane Manning, here in the US, here in the UK, and World Make Way,here in the US, here in the UK, all edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. She lives in Lockport, New York (not far from Niagara Falls), in a house on the banks of the historic Erie Canal. Her website is here.
Paul has worked as a poet for nearly thirty years and visited around 4000 schools, libraries, festivals, front rooms. He has written and edited over 60 titles – including the best selling The Works – and has sold over a million books. He is the Poet in Residence for The National Football Museum, Slade’s Poet Laureate, Writer in Residence for Sing Together and Chant Productions. And he is a National Poetry Day Ambassador. Everton Football Club commissioned a poem for their season ticket campaign and the Everton Home poem which can be found online and has been played on the big screens at Goodison Park. His latest collection – The Very Best Of (Macmillan) is out now and contains many of his signature poems – including the favourite, Let No-one Steal Your Dreams – alongside other favourites and new pieces. Paul’s website is here and his Twitter here.
Pie Corbett is an English educational trainer, writer, author, anthologiser and poet who has written over two hundred books. He is now best known for creating Talk for Writingwhich is a teaching programme that supports children as storytellers and writers. He has supported children’s writing and children’s poets as well as the education of primary children for many years. His main collection is called Evidence of Dragons, illustrated by Chris Riddell and Peter Bailey, published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Here is one of Pie’s fabulous poems:
In the Land of Possibility
In the land of possibility,
there is a swan’s final feather;
a fragment of the moon’s crust;
the final echo of a rainbow’s cry;
the gleam from a conker
when the shell cracks open;
a silence that was trapped after sleep takes over;
Dom Conlon launched onto the children’s poetry scene with Astro Poetica, illustrated by Jools Wilson, a collection of poems inspired by space and praised by Nicola Davies, Jon Culshaw, George Szirtes and many more. Since then he has been published in magazines and anthologies whilst performing and teaching in schools and libraries around the North West. He’s a regular guest on BBC Radio Lancashire where his poetry covers everything from the universe to grief. Dom’s work can be read here.
Here is one of Dom’s great poems:
Where is my red bike? The rag bone man took it to sell for his supper.
Who bought its shine? The rain took that to polish its tears .
Who bought its bell? Time took that to mark out its years.
Who bought its tyres? The wind took those to carry its clouds.
Who bought its seat? The mountain took that to help the sky rest.
Who bought its chain? The river took that to pull all its fish.Who bought its journeys? I kept those for when you no longer visit.
Andrew Collet started writing in c1979 as a choirboy, in a bus shelter, waiting to return home from Newcastle Cathedral. He became a teacher; then over ten years visited hundred of schools and festivals as a children’s performance poet. He remains published in over a hundred anthologies and his fiction and poetry have been included in the Oxford Reading Tree, Oxford Literacy Web and many other schemes. He also had five collections of his own work published. His material has been broadcast and used by exam boards across the world. Andrew has more recently been forced to take a step back from writing. However, he still loves to party with the poets. Three of Andrew’s poems can be found in the ever popular The Works, Ed. Paul Cookson, Macmillan.
Mandy Coe is the author of seven books and winner of a number of awards. Her work has featured on BBC radio and television programmes such as CBeebies, Woman’s Hour and Poetry Please. Mandy regularly visits schools through author’s visits and her work on teaching poetry has been published by the TES, Bloomsbury and Cambridge University Press. Her poems can be heard on Talking Poetry, BBC Schools Radio and the Poetry Archive. Her children’s collection, If You Could See Laughter (Salt 2010) was Highly Commended by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award. Mandy’s website is here
Justin Coe is a poet, writer and spoken word theatre creator, specialising in work for young audiences. He has taken his puckish poetics and heart-felt humour all over the world, including to a sitting room made entirely out of newspaper. He loves visiting schools and libraries, and has worked with young people across all age ranges and key stages since 2000, including a four year stint as a resident poet at a school for pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties.. He’s the author of The Dictionary of Dads illustrated by Steve Wells (Otter-Barry Books, published May 2017). His website is here.
Justin sent several laugh out loud poems, but I liked this clever villanelle:
The Great Fire of London (A Villanelle)
London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane! By bucket and axe, we shall beat this blaze Or see this fair city forever changed
Fariner, a baker, they say’s to blame People flee their houses and call out, afraid “London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane!”
With summer drought, wild winds, no cooling rains These flames too fierce to tame could rage for days And see this fair city forever changed
Send for the King’s men. The Thames boils with shame After the disaster of last year’s plague London burns! A fire on Pudding Lane!
Whole streets melt like they’re made of paper chains Houses, churches, holy St Paul’s all razed Now see this fair city forever changed
Call Christopher Wren. Build it up again Stone by stone until you are all amazed London burned! A fire on Pudding Lane! But see this fair city forever changed…
Jane Clarke is the author of many poems in anthologies of children’s poetry, and of over 80 books, some them rhyming. Jane’s been an archaeologist (in London) a history teacher (in Wales) and a library assistant (Antwerp International School, Belgium). It was there, at the age of 40, that she started to write for children. Jane loves animals of all shapes and sizes, country walks, and shell and fossil hunts (she has a big collection of fossil sharks teeth). She enjoys making visits to nursery schools and primary schools to share her love of poetry and stories, and lead creative writing workshops. Her latest rhyming book is I Saw Anaconda, illustrated by Emma Dodd. Jane’s website is here, and her FB page here.
Jane is brilliant, especially with primary audiences. Here is one of her poems:
James Carter is an award-winning children’s poet, non-fiction and educational writer and INSET provider. He is the author of over 16 popular and best-selling poetry titles. James travels all over the UK and abroad with his guitar (that’s Keith) and melodica (that’s Steve) to give very lively poetry/music performances and workshops In the last 16 years he has visited over 1000 Primary / Prep schools and performed at various prestigious festivals including Cheltenham, Hay and Edinburgh.
His latest poetry/non-fiction picture book, Once Upon A Star (Little Tiger Press) was BooksforKeeps’ Book of the Week March 2018 and his collections of children’s poems include The World’s Greatest Space Cadet (Bloomsbury), Zim Zam Zoom! (Otter-Barry Books). James’ website is here.
John Dougherty is probably best known as the writer of around 30 books for children, (including the STINKBOMB & KETCHUP FACE series) but he has also been writing poems and songs since his teens. His first poetry collection, Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies, illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones, was published in 2016, and the following year, his performance to an audience of 1,700 at the Hay Festival was live-streamed to 900 primary schools in Wales. John’s website is here.
Here is a poem from John (written when he was 18!)
Rebecca Kai Dotlich is a poet and picture book author who grew up in the Midwest exploring trails by the creek, reading comic books and building snow forts. She attended Indiana University. She speaks and teaches about writing for children to literature conferences, with students, teachers and aspiring writers all over the US. Her books have been awarded many honours. Rebecca’s work appears in dozens of anthologies, magazines and textbooks. Her website is here.
Jan Dean is a British poet and a National Poetry Day Ambassador. She writes poems in a tucked away corner of the house, next to a rubber chicken handbag and Templeton the kiwi. She has two full collections of poetry, three collaborations and is in over a hundred anthologies. She visits schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes. Her latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello (written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan). Her website is here.
Shauna Darling Robertson was born in Northumberland in 1968 and now lives in Somerset. She’s had lots of different jobs over the years but none have involved either jazz or maths (this sentence will make much more sense once you’ve read the poem below). Her poems for adults and children have been set to music, performed by actors, displayed on buses, turned into short films, made into comic art, hung on a pub wall and published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Shauna also makes artwork and loves working with other writers, artists, musicians and film-makers to explore and play with poetry in different ways. Her website is here.
Here is one of Shauna’s great poems:
HERE’S A LITTLE JAZZ NUMBER
Jools the jazz saxophonist
longs to be an accountant.
But belongs to a family
of maestro musicians.
‘No son of mine,’ moans Dad,
‘is going to be a number cruncher.’
‘Maths?’ hoots Mum. ‘Don’t
be daft, son. Music’s far more fun,’
as she tunes her harp
for the hundredth time
in half as many days
(Jools did the sums).
Jools is a family asset, a one-in-a-million
capital saxophonist. He’s also top-brass
on trumpet, keyboard, drums, bass,
but needs to face up
to his ache to deduct,
divide, round-down, subtract.
These are taxing times –
Jools tours the world
and drowns in applause
from adoring fans.
He watches them, bored,
and counts their hands.
Reckoned up, Jools has penned
ten thousand, seven hundred and forty four autographs,
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, andIn 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.
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.
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).
This wonderful poem by Vivian is the one in the above anthology:
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) andthe 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 Legs, illustrated by Korky Paul (Troika) and Don’t Stand Under a Flying Cow (King’s England Press). His website is here.
I bet you couldn’t beat this brilliant poem by John Foster – but there’s no harm in trying!
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.
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.
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 Fletcher, which 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.
Here is one of Philip’s fabulous poems:
Ways of Conquering Everest
… at all, the first time, ever
… by the direct route, in winter
… 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
… 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
(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
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.
Here is one of Nikki’s poems – I think we have all suffered with this!:
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.
Here is one of her lovely poems:
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
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).
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.
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.
Here is one of Chrissie’s poems:
The Powder Monkey
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.
Before 1794 children aged 6 upward went to sea. After 1794 the minimum age was 13.
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 Town, illustrated by Annie Wilkinson.
Charles is a wonderful supporter of children’s poetry and poets. Here is one of his lovely poems:
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.
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.
Lee Bennett Hopkins sadly died in 2019 – he was much-loved and will be missed terribly. He wrote and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials. He 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 Poems, City I Love (Abrams, 2009), and Full Moon and Star (Abrams, 2011), both illustrated by jazz musician Marcellus Hall. He had an unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom.
To encourage the recognition of poetry, he 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:
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.
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.
The lift, a green room for the wheelchair user
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.
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.
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:
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.
Here is one of his poems – I think every children’s poet has experienced this!:
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 Sandfordand 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.
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.
Here is one of Matt’s funny poems (which neatly sums up how I feel about maths!):
Tense Times Table
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)
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.
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.
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).
I first found and loved Avis Harley’s work while visiting Canada. Here is one of her poems, a sonnet:
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, and shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2018. 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.
Here is one of her wonderful poems with its illustration, also by Sue:
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 Thinkersillustrated byCatrin Meirion(Pont). Mike’s website is here and Twitter here.
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.
This is her moving poem:
My Face is a Map
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?
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.
The Scrumbler was a wonderful magazine – I’m hoping for a revival! Here is one of Mike’s poems:
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.
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.
Daphne Kitching taught in primary schools for many years in North Yorkshire, and then taught children with Dyslexia in East Yorkshire. Now she is a Vicar. She has some lovely children and grandchildren who teach her all sorts of things. For fun she reads, swims and walks, and sometimes burns pictures on wood.
This poem is from her book, Spider Flavoured Sausages. It was inspired by Daphne’s sons who always used to go camping on Boxing Day. And if it didn’t snow they were disappointed. Spider Flavoured Sausages can be bought here.
B. J. Lee lives in Florida. Her poems appear in anthologies, including Construction People (ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins), The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry and The Poetry of US (ed. J. Patrick Lewis), One Minute Till Bedtime, illustrated by Christoph Niemann (ed. Kenn Nesbitt), available here in the US and here in the UK, and many others. Her debut picture book is coming soon.Here are B. J.’s Website and Poetry blog
This is her lovely poem and photo illustration, first published by Renée LaTuilippe on her website, No Water River.
After a wild and rugged youth as a bronco rider, lobster fisherman, opera singer, confidential police informant, Economics professor, and Russian spy—he has been to Moscow thirteen times (shhh!)—J. Patrick Lewis is now in the Federal Witness Protection Program in XXXX, Ohio, USA with XXXX, his wife, and two vicious K-9 guard toy poodles. Please do not ask to see his secret tattoos. His alter ego, J. Patrick Lewis poet, has published 110 children’s picture and poetry books to date with Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Creative Editions, Chronicle, Scholastic, and others. The Poetry Foundation named him the third U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011-2013). Recent books include the series Let’s Celebrate Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween, and Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis. His website is here.
Alistair Lane is an emerging poet, writer, and performer, who writes for both children and adults, and an active member of the “DIY Poets” collective. His work can be found online, in local zines, on post-it notes on vending machines, performed at friends’ weddings, written in the sand on beaches, and has even graced the good buses of Guernsey. He blogs occasionally here, and was nominated as “Funniest Blogger” in the 2016 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
Renée M. LaTulippe’s poems have been widely published in anthologies for children, including School People, illustrated by Ellen Shi, One Minute Till Bedtime, illustrated by Christoph Niemann, and National Geographic’s forthcoming The Poetry of US . She has also co-authored nine early readers. Renée earned her BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College and her MA in English Education from New York University. She teaches The Lyrical Language Lab, an online course for children’s writers. She lives by the sea in Italy. Renée’s brilliant website is here. Her excellent poetry blog with many resources is here.
Here is one of her poems, a wonderful pantoum:
HAPPY: pantoum for a perfect day
What manifestation of happy is this?
Striding outside where grass greens my feet,
dragonflies dart in snapdragony bliss—
Morning and I promenade down the street.
Striding outside, where grass greens my feet,
I greet swooping bluebirds out bluing the sky.
Morning and I promenade down the street:
we’re fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh!
I greet swooping bluebirds, out bluing the sky…
“Tick tock!” whisper shadows as Sun pulls them long.
Like fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh,
afternoon falls to the whippoorwill’s song.
“Tick tock!” whisper shadows as Sun pulls them long.
Attie Lime is a children’s poet whose favourite places to write are her writing shed and fields. Her three boys inspire her constantly, as well as her ankle-biting cat! She enjoys writing poems about nature and feelings, and loves sharing funny poems in schools to make children laugh. She has poetry published in various print and online publications, and her first poetry collection for children will be published by Beir Bua Press in 2023. Attie’s website is www.attielime.co.uk and she is on Twitter @AttieLime.
Laura Mucha worked as a face painter, studied flying trapeze, philosophy and psychology, and swam in Antarctica before becoming a lawyer. Now she spends most of her time playing with words. Her poetry has been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, and she’s performed on BBC Radio, at festivals and in schools. In 2016, she won the Caterpillar Poetry Prize. You can read and listen to Laura’s poetry here.
Cheryl Moskowitz writes for adults and children. She loves going in to schools to get pupils, teachers and parents writing their own poems! Her poems for children have appeared in recent anthologies, Is This a Poem? illustrated by Spike Gerrell (Bloomsbury, ed. Roger Stevens) Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, illustrations by Tenniel, (Macmillan, ed. Michaela Morgan) and Watchers of the Skies, illustrated by Emma Wright (The Emma Press, eds. Rachel Piercey & Emma Wright). Her popular collection of poems about home, school and everything in between, Can It Be About Me?, illustrated by Ros Asquith, is published by Janetta Otter-Barry Books. Her website is here.
Here is one of Cheryl’s poems from Can it be About Me?:
Imagine your life was like a book you could make crossings out and adding to. There might be some things you’d change but certain things you’d decide to leave exactly as they are.
Brian Moses has been a professional children’s poet since 1988. He has over 200 books published including volumes of his own poetry such as A Cat Called Elvis and Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses (both Macmillan and illustrated by Chris Garbutt), anthologies such as The Secret Lives of Teachers and Aliens Stole My Underpants (both Macmillan) as well as picture books. Over 1 million copies of Brian’s poetry books have now been sold by Macmillan. His poem ‘Walking With My Iguana’ is one of the most listened to poems on the Poetry Archive. Brian has visited well over 3,000 schools to run writing workshops and perform his own poetry and percussion shows in the UK and abroad; CBBC once commissioned him to write a poem for the Queen’s 80th birthday! His website is here, blog is here, and Twitter is here.
Brian is a kind and indefatigable supporter of children’s poets and poetry. Here is one of his fab poems:
All The Things You Can Say to Places in the UK
Always say ‘Ta’ to Leamington Spa,
say ‘Have a nice day’ to Whitley Bay.
You can shout ‘What’s new?’ or even ‘Howdo’
to inhabitants of Looe or Crew.
You can tell the whole story in Tobermory,
say ‘Hi’ to Rye and ‘Right on’ to Brighton,
or call out ‘Let’s go’ to Plymouth Ho.
Talk through your dreams in Milton Keynes,
say ‘It’s all for the best’ in Haverfordwest.
Always say ‘yes’ when you visit Skegness
but only say ‘No’ in Llandudno.
Don’t tell a lie to the Island of Skye
or say ‘It smells’ in Tunbridge Wells.
Don’t talk rude if you’re down in Bude
or start to get gabby in Waltham Abbey.
Don’t ever plead in Berwick on Tweed
or say ‘You look ill’ to Burgess Hill.
You could lose your voice and talk with your hands
Michaela has had over 140 titles published including poetry, picture books, junior novels and non-fiction. She is a regular visitor to schools, has been shortlisted for the BBC Blue Peter Award (twice), and has won a UKRA (now UKLA) award, and many others. Her 2016 poetry book Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, illustrations by Tenniel, was shortlisted for the prestigious CLiPPA Award for poetry and her 2017 collection Reaching the Stars: Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls co-authored with Jan Dean and Liz Brownlee has just won the North Somerset Teachers’ Award. She is about to release a newly updated and extended third edition of How To Teach Poetry: Writing Workshops, in which she stresses the importance of poetry across the curriculum.
Michaela is great fun – here is one of her great more serious poems from Reaching the Stars:
Trevor is a writer and performer of short stories and poems for children and has published lots of other stuff too. His poems are widely published and anthologised. He is also an experienced workshop leader and is well known for his work on creativity and developing the use of ICT in English. His website is here. . Here’s ‘Sunday in the Yarm Fard’ from his book, A Stegosaurus is for Life and other Animal Poems,illustrated by Elaine Hill. .
Roger McGough was born in Liverpool and received the Freedom of the City in 2001. President of the Poetry Society, he presents the popular Radio 4 programme Poetry Please, and has published more than a hundred books for both adults and children. His most recent book, 80, which contains 80 of his wonderful poems to celebrate his 80th birthday, is illustrated by the author himself. It is available here. In 2005 he received a CBE from the Queen for his services to literature. His website is here.
I love You Tell Me, illustrated by Korky Paul and written with Michael Rosen. People my age must feel, like me, that they have known him all their lives – he is certainly one of Britain’s best loved poets.
Kim Norman is the author of twenty children’s books, many in verse, published by Sterling, Scholastic, Penguin/Random House, and forthcoming from FSG and Candlewick. Kim calls herself a “Bedtime reading evangelist.” She has been invited to more than 250 schools around the US and has Skyped with students as far away as Hong Kong and South Korea. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two pug mixes, in a tiny house shaded by giant pecan trees. One of Kim’s poems is in Kenn Nesbitt’s 2016 anthology, One Minute Till Bedtimeillustrated by Christoph Niemann.Her website is here.
Here is one of Kim’s Poems:
Nose to Knows
. As I gaze at my goldfish’s gulping gills, in awe of his alien fins and frills, he probably peers at my ears and nose, pondering, “What ‘n the heck are those?”
Judith wrote her first poem when she was 7. Her first job was writing for a women’s magazine, and after she got married and had three children she became a teacher; it was only later she become a professional writer, and since then she has written or compiled over 50 books for children of all ages. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of anthologies. She has appeared on television programmes for schools and run performances and workshops with pupils or teachers in over 500 schools, from Berwick-on-Tweed to Penzance, The South Bank Centre in London to Strasbourg, California – and dozens in Wiltshire!
Kenn’s first children’s poem was written in 1994 after having dinner with a friend whose 4-year-old daughter did everything she could to get out of eating her dinner. He wrote whenever the mood struck him until he published his first collection of poetry The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, Meadowbrook Press in 2001. His first collection of poems, When the Teacher Isn’t Looking: and Other Funny School Poems illustrated by Mike Gordon, was published by Meadowbrook Press in 2005. He has since published many more books with a number of other publishers. His poems have also appeared in magazines, school textbooks, and numerous anthologies, as well as on television, audio CDs and even restaurant placemats. Kenn’s excellent website is here – he tries to post a new poem every week. Kenn Nesbitt is an Ex-Children’s Poetry Laureate in the US.
Here is one of Kenn’s Funny Poems:
To B or Not to B
I bought a black banana, And a broken baseball bat. A burst balloon, a busted boat, A beat-up bowler hat.
I wasn’t being brainy, bright, or brilliant, but you see, My brain was boggled after Being bitten by a bee.
Eric Ode (pronounced Oh-dee) is a national award-winning children’s singer/songwriter, an author and widely published poet, and a thoroughly engaging entertainer. His performances include interactive music, stories, skits, poetry, props and puppets. A former elementary teacher of 12 years with a Masters Degree in Educational Technology, Eric has been invited to share his music and poetry programs with schools, community festivals, libraries, and churches all over the world. One of his latest books is Sea Star Wishes, Poems from the Coast, illustrated by Erik Brooks, available here in the UK and here in the US. Eric’s website is here.
Sally Odgers was born in Tasmania (a little island state of Australia just off the south of the Australian mainland) and still lives there, surrounded by dogs and books. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t love poetry. Her dad used to declaim long ballads such as How Horatio Held the Bridge, and one of her favourite books was a big anthology covered in wrapping paper with pictures of pansies. Sally wrote her first poem in sewing class when she was about eleven. She’s been writing them (and books and rhyming picture books) ever since. Sally loves playing with websites. One of them is here.
Here are a couple of poems from her most recent poetry book: Animals in Silhouette.
Shadow of Silence
If silence had a shadow
Its name would be cat
Black as midnight creeping softly padding paws and tail held lofty whiskers fingering
the air and silence-shadow slinking there
While cats shadow silence
Then shadows are cat
Silence shadow slinking there whiskers fingering the air padding paws and tails held
Tommy Olofsson is an author and a literary critic as well as a Professor emeritus of Creative Writing. He made his debut as a poet in 1970 and has since published twelve collections of poetry, most recently Attack mot intigheten (2009). His poetry has been translated into a dozen languages and published in separate volumes in two languages, English and Polish. A selection of his poetry, Elemental Poems, was published 1991 in the U.S., translated by Jean E. Pearson.
Here is the first poem I read by him – it was first published in the book above, but I read it in This Same Sky, poems collected by Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favourite books of poems from around the world for young people:
Brian Patten writes for both adults and children and his books have been translated into many languages. An accomplished performer of both humorous and serious work, he has performed in venues as varied as The Islamic Students Union in Khartoum, local schools, and the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank. More poems and information about Brian and video clips etc. can be found on his website, here. One of his poetry books, Thawing Frozen Frogs (try saying that quickly!) illustrated by Chris Riddell, is here.
Here is one of his wonderful poems:
Our teacher told us one day he would leave
And sail across a warm blue sea
To places he had only known from maps,
And all his life had longed to see.
the house he lived in was narrow and grey
But in his mind’s eye he could see
Sweet-scented jasmine clinging t the walls,
And green leaves burning on an orange tree.
He spoke of the lands he longed to visit,
Where it was never drab or cold.
I couldn’t understand why he never left,
and shook off the school’s stranglehold.
Then halfway through his final term
He took ill and never returned,
And he never got to that place on the map
Where the green leaves of the orange trees burned.
Trevor Parsons was born in Parsons Green, London, but, disappointingly, was not the son of a parson. After studying dentistry at London University (he decided it was not for him) he had a variety of jobs including being a postman and cataloguing pressed flowers; then he trained as a teacher and after that formed a company making models for film companies etc. Trevor has written poetry since his postman days and for the last twenty years has written for children as well. He has had poems in dozens of anthologies and in 2011 had his first children’s collection, Hear Here (illustrated by Lucy Creed) published – available here! He also writes poems for greetings cards. This is his website.
Shazea Quraishi is a Pakistani-born Canadian poet and translator whose poems have appeared in UK and US publications including The Financial Times, The Guardian, Modern Poetry in Translation and Poetry Review. Her collection The Art of Scratching was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015, and she is adapting her chapbook ‘The Courtesans Reply’ as a play. In 2015, she was the recipient of a Brooklease Grant from the Royal Society of Literature, and an Artists International Development Fund award. She teaches with The Poetry School and Translators in Schools, and is an artist in residence with Living Words. Her website is here.
Here is one of her fabulous poems suitable for young people:
You may have heard of me
My father was a bear.
He carried me through forest, sky
and over frozen sea. At night
I lay along his back
wrapped in fur and heat. And while I slept, he ran,
never stopping to rest, never letting me fall.
He showed me how to be careful as stone,
sharp as thorn and quick as weather.
When he hunted alone
he’d leave me somewhere safe, high up a tree
or deep within a cave.
And then a day went on…
he didn’t come.
I looked and looked for him.
The seasons changed and changed again.
Sleep became my friend. It even brought my father back.
Coral Rumble has worked as a poet and performer for many years and now specialises in writing and performing for children. She has four collections, Creatures, Teachers and Family Features, Breaking the Rules, illustrated by Nigel Baines, My Teacher’s as Wild as a Bison, also illustrated by Nigel Baines, and Riding a Lion, Troika. She has poems in over 100 anthologies for young people. Coral performs and gives workshops art centres, books shops, libraries, theatres and festivals, has worked as a writer and poetry consultant for the BBC, and is one of the writers for the CBeebies TV programme, Poetry Pie. Her website is here.
Here is a favourite poem of Coral’s:
RIDING A LION
I dreamt of riding a lion, a fast one,
A fierce one, with a flash of wildness in his eyes.
I could feel his tented ribs with my clinging knees.
I dreamt he leapt and flew, huge wings spreading,
His deep growl rumbling like a well-oiled engine.
My fingers curled into a tangle around his mane.
I dreamt he swooped a deep dive, a daring dive,
A dizzy dive, against the roaring wind,
And I didn’t even close my eyes in fear.
I dreamt he landed on an island, a golden one,
Where all the lions fly, and children ride
On their warm backs, clutching the edge of danger.
Michael Rosen was born in 1946 in Harrow, Middlesex. Many of Michael’s early books were about his life between 2 and 12, and his son Joe filmed Michael performing all the poems from The Hypnotiser; see here. His first book for children in 1974 was called Mind Your Own Business, and was illustrated wonderfully by Quentin Blake. Michael is still writing books, performing and running workshops in schools, libraries and theatres, as well as many other activities such as teaching teachers to teach poetry. His latest children’s poetry book, Jelly Boots Smelly Boots, illustrated by David Tazzyman, is here. His website is here.
The first thing I think about when I think of Michael Rosen is chocolate cake, because of his wonderful poem. What a fabulous thing to be associated with! Here is another of his amazing poems:
RacheI Rooney’s poetry collection The Language of Cat, latest edition illustrated by Ellie Jenkins, won the CLPE Poetry Award and was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her second collection My Life as a Goldfish, Illustrated by Ellie Jenkins, was shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2015. Her forthcoming book A Kid in My Class,illustrated by Chris Riddell will be published by Otter-Barry Books in 2018. She visits schools for workshops with pupils and has performed her work at festivals and for The Children’s Bookshow. She was Chair of Judges for the CLiPPA 2017 and the Betjeman Poetry Prize. Her website is here.
How many children’s poets called John Rice do you need? It turns out it’s TWO! J. H. Rice has spent thirty years working in primary education. He has worked as a teacher, headteacher, assessor, teacher trainer and writer in education and has long held a passion for children’s poetry. Appearing in anthologies published both nationally and internationally, he thinks of his own poems as small creatures: some are quite tame but others are not entirely trustworthy. His website is here.
Here is a great hippopoem by him:
Beware the hippopotamouse Ignore his toothsome grin If you ever hear him knocking You must not let him in
He’ll soon invite all of his friends – They’ll be there in a trice And no-one wants a house that’s full Of hippopotamice
They’ll seize your cheese, they’ll gnaw your floor They’ll make a dreadful fuss; Worse than this, the holes they make are Hippopot-anormous
John Rice is a Scottish poet who writes for both children and adults. He has published 12 collections including Bears Don’t Like Bananas and Dreaming of Dinosaurs which were illustrated by Charles Fuge. His most recent book for children was Guzzling Jelly with Giant Gorbelly. He is a regular contributor to anthologies and his poems have been used in educational exams all over the world. During the Robert Burns 250th anniversary celebrations (2008-2010) he was Poet-in-Residence in Glasgow. He has been Chair of the Society of Authors’ Authors North group and a member of the Society’s Poetry & Spoken Word Group. John’s website is here.
George Szirtes was born in Hungary in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He trained as an artist and has written over twenty books of poetry in English, some of which have won prizes, such as the Faber Prize, and the T S Eliot Prize, as well as prizes abroad. He has written three books of poetry for children: The Red All Over Riddle Book, (1997), In the Land of the Giants (Salt, 2012, winner of the CLPE Prize) and, most recently How to be a Tiger illustrated by Tim Archbold (Otter-Barry 2016). As well as his own books he has translated many from the Hungarian for which he has also won various international prizes. He is married to artist Clarissa Upchurch and lives in Norfolk.
Roger Stevens has had nearly 40 books published: novels, numerous solo poetry collections and edited poetry collections. His most recent books are The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship (Macmillan); The Waggiest Tails: Poems Written by Dogs illustrated by Ed Boxall, (Otter-Barry) and Apes to Zebras: an A – Z of Shape Poems illustrated by Lorna Scobie (Bloomsbury). When not writing, he visits schools, libraries and festivals performing his work and running workshops for young people and teachers. He is a National Poetry Day Ambassador for the Forward Arts Foundation, a founding member of the Able Writers scheme with Brian Moses; and runs the award-winning and most excellent poetry website PoetryZone, here, for children and teachers.
Roger is a dear friend and a tireless supporter of children’s poets and poetry. Here is one of his fab poems!
Lemn Sissay MBE is author of a series of books of poetry alongside articles, records, broadcasts, public art, commissions and plays. Lemn was the first poet commissioned to write for London Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London. They can be seen in The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park. Lemn was official poet for The FA Cup 2015 and his Desert Island Discs was pick of the year for BBC Radio 4 2015. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Patron of The Letterbox Club, Canterbury’s Poet Laureate and he is a regular contributor to radio and television. Lemn’s wonderful poems are frequently included in anthologies for children.
I have been given free reign to choose any of his poems, so here is one that is included in 100 Brilliant Poems for Children, ed. by Paul Cookson. I have rarely read a poem by Lemn that hasn’t made me want to cry, and this is no exception:
Let There Be Peace
Let there be peace
So frowns fly away like an albatross
And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards;
So war correspondents become travel-show presenters
And magpies bring back lost property,
Children, engagement rings, broken things.
Let there be peace
So storms can go out to sea to be
Angry and return to me calm;
So the broken can rise and dance in the hospitals.
Let the aged Ethiopian man in the grey block of flats
Peer through his window and see Addis before him
So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames
For his dreams.
Let there be peace
Let tears evaporate to form clouds, cleanse themselves
Marilyn Singer was winner of the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry, and is the author of over one hundred books, many of which are poetry collections; including Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing from Salsa to Swing illustrated by Kristi Valiant, (Dial); and three books of “reversos”:Mirror Mirror, Follow Follow, and Echo Echo, all illustrated by Josee Masse, published by Dial. Marilyn co-hosts the Poetry Blast, which features children’s poets reading their work at conferences. She and her husband, Steve Aronson, live in Brooklyn, NY and Washington, CT, with their pets. Her website is here.
Andrea Shavick is an experienced UK writer with 27 books published including best-selling children’s picture books, funny children’s poetry and a biography of Roald Dahl that’s still in print around the world after 20 years! Her poetry book, Grandma was Eaten by a Shark can be bought here. For freelance writing/commissions please get in touch via Andrea’s website here.
Joshua Seigal is a London-based poet, a great performer as you see above, and educator. He has three published books and has performed all over the world. He has held residencies at numerous schools, is an official National Poetry Day Ambassador, and was shortlisted for a National Literacy Trust Award and the Laugh Out Loud Award. Joshua works with children of all ages and abilities, as well as running training days for teachers and doing comedy and spoken word performances for grown ups. His website is here and his book, I don’t Like Poetry, illustrated by Chris Piascik, here.
Robert Schechter’s children’s poetry has appeared in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, and various major anthologies. Winner of the 2016 XJ Kennedy Parody Award, his adult poems and translations have been widely published in literary magazines and in weekly humour contests in The Washington Post, The Spectator, The New Statesman, and elsewhere. His website is here.
Here is one of Robert’s poems:
The “Just Because” Hug
Bears will hug you cause they’re mean, so watch out for their claws! But I don’t hug you cause I’m nice. I hug you just because.
There is no rule that says I must. There are no ‘hugging laws,’ no hidden motives to discuss. I hug you just because.
I do not hug you to reward your virtues or your flaws. Can you guess the reason why I hug you? Just because.
When life’s too busy, rushing by, sometimes I like to pause and wrap my arms around you. Why? I hug you just because.
Just because I have two arms. Be glad it’s not two paws! Just because it feels so good, I hug you. Just because.
Darren Sardelli is an award winning poet, motivational speaker, and children’s book author. He makes poetry fun and exciting for everyone. His poems are featured in 18 children’s books in the U.S. and England, and dozens of textbooks (worldwide). Since 2004, Darren has visited more than 600 schools. His assemblies and writing workshops have turned countless students and educators onto poetry. Darren’s poems have been featured on Radio Disney, in best selling books on the Scholastic Book List, and are being used in lesson plans all around the world. His entertaining poems delight, excite, and ignite imaginations everywhere! A link to his book, Galaxy Pizza and Meteor Pie is here. .
Here is one of Darren’s poems:
Do You Salsa in the Shower
Do you Salsa in the shower? Do you Disco in your den? Do you Boogie in your bedroom? Is your Twist a perfect 10?
Do you do the Mashed Potato when you’re cooking up a storm? Are the Butterfly and Bunny Hop fun dances to perform?
Do you Shimmy, Shake, and Shuffle on your lawn on Friday night? Do the Jitterbug and Foxtrot fill your heart with pure delight?
Do you like the Hokey Pokey? Do you Square Dance with your pets? Do you Mambo and Fandango in a pair of purple sweats?
Would you Tap Dance on a table? Would you Moonwalk on the moon? Would you do the Irish Step Dance with a leprechaun balloon?
Can you Limbo under lumber? Do you Dougie in the sea? Well, whatever kind of dance you do, Please save the last for me!
Jill Townsend has had poems for children published in over 80 anthologies and her collection, Going To The Olympics, is available from Amazon on Kindle or for download to a p.c. She also writes for adults. Her website is here.
Nick Toczek is a British writer and performer who has had more than forty books and dozens of recording published. As well as being a poet, he’s a rock journalist (for the magazine RnR), a radio broadcaster with his own week show (on BCB Radio), a professional magician and puppeteer, and an authority on the activities of racist groups in the UK and in America. To find our more about him, check out his Wikipedia page here and his Authors Abroad page here. His own brand new website is currently under construction and should be fully active by summer 2018. (I will add it then!)
Kaye Umansky started writing stories when she was a child. She trained as a teacher and taught Drama, Music and English, and carried on writing stories in her spare time. In 1985 she had her first book published, and is now is best known for her funny children’s novels, like the Pongwiffy series. But open any children’s poetry anthology and you will usually find a witty, and very funny poem by her, too. Kaye’s poems can also be found these collections of nonsense rhymes, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Nonsense, Counting, Animal and Fairytale Rhymes, OUP. Her website is here.
By the way, just a warning, Kaye Umansky does not like blancmange.
Here are two (very) short poems by her!
Aladdin Made Short
The cave was dark, The cave was damp. Aladdin rubbed The rusty lamp.
Alas, the genie Never came. Wrong lamp. What a shame.
Philip de Vos used to be a language teacher and opera singer; he is also a photographer, radio presenter and award-winning writer and poet. He has published 30 books of light verse, limericks, novels and children’s books in both English and Afrikaans. He has also done rhyming translations of more than 50 children’s books into Afrikaans including 12 by Julia Donaldson. Three of Philip’s books are in light verse in English, inspired by well known classical works. Carnival of the Animals (based on the work of Saint-Saëns), Pictures at an Exhibition illustrated by Piet Grobler (based on Mussorgsky’s music), and coming in May 2018, Day for a Hullabaloo also illustrated by Piet Grobler, (based on Kinderszenen by Robert Schumann).
Here is one of Philip’s poems in English:
OF OTHER LANDS AND OTHER CHILDREN
Children of another land are sometimes hard to understand. When the sunlight floods my room, other children watch the moon. When I’m good, then they are bad. When I’m happy, they are sad. Other children, other faces, other words and other places: Baba Yaga, marabou, Lorelei and cockatoo, Yokohama, Gazankulu, Mali, Bali, Honolulu. Children of another land are sometimes hard to understand …
As well as being a poet, Tracie Vaughn is an author and teacher at the same school where she was once a student near Cincinnati, Ohio. Tracie also writes discussion guides and other book-related guides (more than 400 of them at this point!) and she serves on the Scripps National Spelling Bee word team. When she’s not reading, grading, or writing lessons she’s probably thinking about reading, grading or writing. Find her online here. Her last poetry book, Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, is here.
Here is one of Tracie’s poems:
The purple spires
of the plant have finally burst open
after hiding in the ground under brittle sticks all winter
spending all spring stretching toward sky
towering now over the border at ten feet–
not a single butterfly has alighted
on the lacy blooms
but fat bumblebees cruise in all day
and a honey bee or two, those humble servants to ecology
arrive late to the buffet
then a hummingbird zings in for late tea:
skittish winged fairy
sips in frantic pulses
then evaporates into the leaves of the linden tree
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is an American poet who writes for young people. She loves to bake, knit, and scribble poems in her cozy farmhouse in upstate New York. You can find her online at The Poem Farm, her blog for children. Her latest two books are Dreaming of You, (Boyds Mills Press) and With My Hands: Poems About Making Things (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). You can find Amy on Twitter here.
Amy’s blog is brilliant and her Twitter stream is always interesting and full of children’s poetry. Here is one of Amy’s lovely poems:
Chris White is a writer, illustrator and performance poet. Those are his illustrations at the top! He has had many poetry and story books published since his first; Bitey the Veggie Vampire in 2000. As well as scribbling pictures to accompany his own work, Chris illustrates for other authors too. He has appeared at many festivals (I saw him at Edinburgh!), toured the world with his performances and workshops, and had his poems and pictures broadcast on BBC TV and radio. (And he has kindly drawn a cartoon of me, with Lola, that sometimes appears around the blog!). Chris’ website is here, for booking details.
Here is one of his fun poems:
Let me introduce you to
The creature called a Kangamoo
Her fur is coloured black and white
She’s crazy and cute and friendly alright!
Where does she live? Don’t worry, I know
She lives in a field or grassy meadow
Eating the grass that she pulls from the ground
And jumping and leaping and bounding around
Can you see her tummy? (Please try not to stare)
A small furry pouch is hanging right there
And inside this pouch, she keeps all her shopping
So she doesn’t drop it whilst she’s jumping and hopping
What does she buy? To which shops does she go?
Well, peek in her pouch and then you will know
There’s strawberries, bananas, blueberries too
With all that fresh fruit, what things does she do?
Well, under her pouch, you’ve noticed, I’m sure
She has a pink udder from which milk will pour
Into her pouch with a squirt and a squoot
She’ll mix all that milk with the fabulous fruit
And what has she done? What did she make?
Her very own delicious Kangamilkshake!
So, when she is hot from bouncing about
She’ll get a couple of bendy straws out
Stick them in her pouch and without having to think
Colin West was born in 1951 and studied Graphic Design and Illustration at various art colleges. His first book, a slim volume of nonsense verse, Out of the Blue from Nowhere, was published by Dennis Dobson in 1976. He went on to write and illustrate some sixty children’s books, and now lives in Sussex and writes and draws for his own amusement, mainly.
However, he has published two rather wonderful collections recently, The Funniest Stuff and Bonkers Ballads, both of which I love, and both of which are stuffed with Colin’s delightfully witty poems and charming, colour illustrations.
Here is one of the poems from The Funniest Stuff:
I once had a little vulture, But he didn’t care for Culture, And to let the whole world know it, He would peck at any poet.
Though I begged him not to do so, He would squawk all through Caruso, And what really seemed a scandal, Hiccup all the way through Handel.
I once dragged him to a lecture On Renaissance architecture, But he found the subject boring, So he spent the whole time snoring.
When at last I took my vulture To a show of modern sculpture, Twenty times he yawned, I counted, So I had him stuffed and mounted.
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 to mention a few! Her poetry for children has appeared in many anthologies. 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. Mud Moon and Me can be bought here. Her newest book Firecrackers, Troika,illustrated by Jo Riddell, can be bought here. Zaro’s website is here.
Celia has been writing poetry ever since she learned to read, and has been published since the early 1990s in hundreds of children’s anthologies, at home and abroad, and shortlisted and commended in various competitions. Her collections are all for young children and many of her poems and stories form infant readers in mainstream school reading programmes all over the world. She has compiled two anthologies: The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poemsillustrated by a range of fabulous artists, (Bloomsbury) and A Time to Speak and a Time to Listen (Schofield and Sims). Celia loves reading and performing her poems to anyone who’ll listen! Her website is here.
I have heard lovely Celia perform and I know everyone enjoys listening! I am also party to the fact she is very partial to worms. In fact her last book, Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles illustrated by Sean Longcroft, A&C Black, is all about them.
Here’s a poem from that collection:
Twenty soily centimetres underneath the ground flexi-worms are exercising, writhing round and round, strengthening their muscles in gymnastic pursuits as they wiggle-weave and zig-zag in between the roots.
Tiptoe on the grass now – don’t make a sound; mustn’t wake the worms up deep underground: worn out with workouts they’re curling up to sleep thirty dirty centimetres underneath our feet! Sssshhhhh!
Kate’s poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Her debut collection of children’s poetry, Moon Juice, illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa (The Emma Press) was described by The Sunday Times as “clever, funny, inspiring”, and won the 2017 CLiPPA (the only big poetry award specifically for children’s poetry); it was also nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal. You can buy and read about Moon Juice here. There is a link to Kate’s website here.
Here is one of Kate’s great poems:
In secret, children can turn lightbulbs on and off with just their eyebrows.
When a child sneezes, the nearest adult briefly loses all reception on their mobile phone.
Left unwashed, children’s feet smell of perfectly-cooked spaghetti.
You can predict the next day’s weather on how tightly a child’s hair curls after a bath (extra curly = sunshine).
Behind children’s left ears grow tiny cacti which yield delicious juice every summer.
Children can see through brick walls of up to 15cm if the thing on the other side is definitely worth looking at.
When a child jumps up and down, fish in the nearest pond rise to the surface and blow a celebratory stream of bubbles.
Children can set up a reliable internet connection in any location using a pigeon and two drinking straws.
Children are able to smell a lie being told from 180 metres away.
Originally from Guyana, Philip Waddell has lived in England for most of his life, these days near the wonderful city of Oxford. He particularly enjoys writing humorous poems and likes directness, wordplay and poems with a twist. Since 1997 Philip’s poems have appeared in well over a hundred anthologies, many published by Macmillan and Bloomsbury, and with his good friend Ian Bland, performance poet, he has co-written and illustrated two collections of poems, A Bug in My Hair! and Go to the Head! .
Philip is a good friend and if you have spent any time at all in his company you will know that he is VERY punny! He can’t resist them.
X. J. Kennedy was born Joseph Kennedy in 1929 in Dover, New Jersey, USA (now in Lexington, Massachusetts). When he started to publish his poems, he adopted the pen name to be different from other Joe Kennedys (one of whom was American ambassador to Great Britain).
Since 1961 he has written ten books of verse for big people, a novel, schoolbooks, and 22 books for children, including One Winter Night in August, The Forgetful Wishing Well, and Brats, and most recently City Kids: Street & Skyscraper Rhymes illustrated by Phillippe Béha (Tradewinds Books, Vancouver and London, 2010): Uk version here and US version here.
Kennedy is a Navy veteran and a graduate of the school for foreign French teachers of the Sorbonne, though he has never taught French. He has also taught English, American literature, and poetry writing (if it can be taught) at several colleges including the University of Leeds. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the father of five grown-ups and six grandkids who still have a ways to grow. His website is here.
Here is one of his wonderful poems:
“Whose Boo Is Whose?”
Two ghosts I know once traded heads And shrieked and shook their sheets to shreds— “You’re me!” yelled one, “and me, I’m you! Now who can boo the loudest boo?”
“Me!” cried the other, and for proof He booed a boo that scared the roof Right off our house. Our TV set Jumped higher than a jumbo jet.
The first ghost snickered. “Why, you creep, Call that a boo? That feeble peep? Hear this!”—and sucking in a blast Of wind, he puffed his sheet so vast
And booed so hard a passing goose Lost all its down. The moon came loose And fell and smashed to smithereens.. Stars scattered like spilled jelly beans.[
“How’s that for booing, boy? I win!” Said one. The other scratched a chin Where only bone was – “Win or lose? How can we tell whose boo is whose?”
Bernard Young is an experienced professional poet and performer who leads writing workshops for children and adults. Bernard’s poems have been broadcast on local and national radio and feature in numerous anthologies of poetry for young readers. His speciality is primary school age. Here is a link to his new book,What are you Like? And here is a link to his website.
Here is one of Bernard’s fab poems:
Dear Teacher, my body’s arrived it sits at a table a pen in its hand as if it is able to think and to act perhaps write down the answer to the question you’ve asked
Jane Yolen, often called the “Hans Christian Andersen of America” had her 365th and 366th books published on March 6, 2018; A Bear Sat On My Porch Today (picture book in rhyme illustrated by Rilla Alexander) and Mapping the Bones (Holocaust novel in which one of the two main characters – they are twins – is a young poet and so some of his poems and partial poems are in the novel.) And yes – there was a big celebration for their publications. The majority of Jane’s books are poetry collections of her own poems (both for children and adults), anthologies of poems she has edited (for children and for adults), or picture books in poetry form (both rhymed and free verse.) She has won many many awards. One of them set her good coat on fire.
Neal Zetter is an award-winning children’s author, comedy performance poet and entertainer. Most days Neal is found performing or running fun poetry writing or performance workshops in schools and libraries with children, teens, adults or families. He has worked in all 33 London Boroughs and many, many other UK cities. Neal has written a whole host of comedy poetry books, all published by Troika (you can see some here). Future Troika books for 6-13 year olds include Yuck & Yum (A Feast of Funny Food Poems) illustrated by Scoular Anderson, with poet Joshua Seigal, out April 26th. More information is here. Neal’s Twitter page is here. Neal’s Amazon author page is here.
This is one of Neal’s funny poems;
It’s Got to Be a Pea
What is that tiny little ball that’s knocking at your door? Grass-green and round it makes no sound when rolling ‘cross the floor Born in a pod and served with cod it doesn’t grow on trees It’s got to be It has to be It’s certainly a pea
It might come from a freezer bag or fresh or from a can It might be liquidised in soup though would taste weird in jam What’s fun to flick at dinnertime at friends or family? It’s got to be It has to be It’s definitely a pea
It could be minted, split, black-eyed or even marrow fat Or squished and squashed beneath your shoe, steamrollered, fairly flat Don’t stick one up your nostril it will make you sniff and sneeze It’s got to be It has to be (The 16th letter of your ABC) It’s unquestionably a pea
Dr Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah was born and raised in Birmingham, England. Amazingly, he is dyslexic, and when left school at 13, he couldn’t read or write; but by 15 he had a strong following in Handsworth for his accessible poetry, strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls ‘street politics’. His poetry book for children, Talking Turkeys, illustrated by The Point, was an immediate bestseller. He has also written several novels aimed specifically at teenagers, as well as several collections of poetry. Benjamin Zephaniah’s website with all his books on is here, and he is available through United Agents.
Here is a brilliant poem, reproduced by kind permission of Benjamin Zephaniah. It appears in his book Wicked World, illustrated by Sarah Symonds, published by Puffin Books.
Sarah Ziman was born and grew up in the South Wales valleys, and currently lives in Hertfordshire. She enjoyed working in a sandwich shop (for the free sandwiches) and her job in publishing (for the free books), but likes writing and performing poems best of all. She won the YorkMix Poems for Children competition in 2021, and has been highly commended in the Caterpillar Prize three years in a row. She has poems in all sorts of magazines and journals around the world, and in anthologies including ‘The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems’, and ‘Poems for 8-year olds’. Her website is www.sarahziman.co.uk and you can also find her tweeting as @BardyMum.