A-Z List of Children’s Poets

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

Sound bites have no place in this parliament

The government has come to the streets

In this global democracy

The people vote with their feet

Some bring red, some bring yellow

Then fly their flags to salute the day

The young find wisdom in an elders face

The old remember the joys of play

And above the music

We hang our dreams on the shoulders of hope

Riding this runaway train

And harmonizing on the same note

Which sounds like

I am London

I am the world

I am Carnival


© Adisa the Verbaliser

Deborah Alma


Deborah Alma

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:



The Spirit of the House

from the painting by August Macke 1910

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat,

a blue striped jug, with the light catching

the glaze, its dazzle closes the eyes

of the cat -it is a jug of cream.

A scented geranium, red and jaunty

in a terracotta pot.

Three small oranges and a blue dish

to hold the finger rubs of friends around its rim

always, always when they come, they reach out

to stroke the leaves, to rub the dish,

to add to the stroked smug of the cat,

to peel an orange.

There they are my friends, their backs

to the wall as they bend and bow

to half heard music, from the times we danced

to the times we laughed.

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat.


© Deborah Alma

Moira Andrew


Moira Andrew

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 PopescuPoetry Space, 2016available here. Moira’s website is here.


This is one of Moira’s gorgeous poems:


Portrait of a Dragon

If I were an artist

I’d paint the portrait

of a dragon.

To do a proper job

I’d borrow colours

from the world.

For his back I’d

need a mountain range,

all misty blue.

For spikes I’d use

dark fir trees pointing

to the sky

For overlapping scales

I’d squeeze dye from

bright anemones.

I’d gild his claws

like shining swords

with starlight.

His tail would be

a river, silver

in the sun.

For his head, the

secret green of forests

and deep seas.

And his eyes would

glow like embers in

a tinker’s fire.

But I’d keep the best

till last.  For his

hot breath

I’d use all reds and

yellows – crocus, saffron,

peony, poppy,

geranium, cyclamen, rose –

and fierce orange flames

from a marigold.


© Moira Andrew (First published in Dragon Poems, by John Foster & Korky Paul, (OUP 1991)

Philip Ardagh

© Dotty Hendrix


Philip Ardagh

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:


Goodbye, Good Boy


Old, old friend.

Stiff-boned now,

Like Grandma’s fingers.

My first true love.

I bury my face in your fur,

Black, now streaked with white.

You smell of sunshine

And golden days of play.

You manage to lift your head

And look at me with trusting

Amber eyes.


I recall your puppy days

And all we’ve shared together since.

The secrets that I’ve told you,

Best dog. Best friend.

A part of me forever.

Kind hands lift you from me.

It is time.

I will be with you until the end, boy.

I’m right here at your side.

And afterwards? You will live

In my thoughts,

the happiest wet-nosed memory of all.


But first the pain.

Who knew unhappiness

Could feel like this?

You thump your tail on the

stainless-steel table.

My heart-bursting wish,

Trough burning eyes,

To turn back time.

Goodbye, Good boy.

Good dog.


© Philip Ardagh

Liz Brownlee


Liz Brownlee

Liz Brownlee lives in the Bristol area and is the children’s poet who collated this A-Z (in answer to a survey in the UK which found teachers were mostly unable to name more than one children’s poet).

Liz is a National Poetry Day Ambassador, hosts this website, and runs the Twitter feed and blog for @kidspoetsummit. Her books include Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, Macmillan, written with Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, which won the N. Somerset Teachers’ Book awards in 2017,  The Same Inside, Poems about Empathy and Friendship, Macmillan, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, and Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems, Bloomsbury, written with Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, that won the N. Somerset Teachers’ Awards in 2018. Her latest book is Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, Macmillan. Liz loves doing school visits, library readings, literary festivals etc. and has read in town centres to the Southbank Centre accompanied by her assistance dog, Lola. Her website is here and Twitter is here.


This is a poem from Apes to Zebras, An A-Z of Shape Poems:


.© Liz Brownlee

Carole Bromley


Carole Bromley

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.


Here is her poem!




I’d listened at the door; they were always there,

the daddy with the voice and the enormous chair,

the mummy with the pinny, stirring the vat;

banging his spoon, their spoilt wee brat.

The chance came soon; they were humouring

the kid, swinging him hand to hand,

There there, baby bear let’s leave our bowls,

walk in the forest till the porridge cools.

All the more for me; I walked in from the yard

climbed onto daddy’s chair – far too hard.

You know the score – hard, soft, right

hot, cold, fine;  big, small, mine.

Point was I had the whole place to myself,

put telly on, took a bath, rearranged a shelf.

Then it was Who’s been sitting in our chairs,

helping themselves? Beds are for bears

and this one’s bust. Yeah, yeah, fair cop.

But they chased after me and didn’t stop

till jumping out the window was the only way;

and there’s me thinking they’d ask me to stay.

But I’ll be back, you mark my words;

bears living in houses! It’s just absurd;

bears eating porridge, bears wearing frocks –

next time they’re out I’m changing the locks.

© Carole Bromley

Ed Boxall


Ed Boxall

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.


Here is one of Ed’s great poems:



I know there’s glitter in the cupboard,

In perfect brand new tubes,

But I never get to use it,

My mum’s always got an excuse.

She says ‘It’s not long until dinner’

And ‘It always makes such a mess’

I was three when we last used the glitter,

Now I’m nearly ten.

Pencils and paper are fine,

To draw cat faced butterflies

But I really need that glitter

For the comets that blast through the skies.

For the sparkle of the scarecrow’s treasure

The glisten of the monkey’s crown

For the glimmer of the newborn galaxies

Above a Martian mountain town

The stardust that floats through my dreams

Races just out of my reach

But the glitter shut up in the cupboard

Is right there and wants to be free.

©Ed Boxall 2013

Ian Bland


Ian Bland

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:


Ian Billings


Ian Billings

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!



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!”


© Ian Billings

Clare Bevan


Clare Bevan

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:


The Treasures


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…

But who will care for the Treasures we give ?”

“I,” said the Child.

“For as long as I live.”


© Clare Bevan

Debra Bertulis


Debra Bertulis

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.


Here is one of Debra’s great poems:


Mr Snowman


Monday built our Snowman

Sitting proud and fat

Tuesday gave him a football scarf

And the warmest woolly hat

Wednesday gave him button eyes

Thursday a carrot nose

Friday gave him sticks for arms

And Saturday more clothes

But Sunday gave bad weather

The sky began to cry

Sunday took our Snowman

We never said goodbye.


© Debra Bertulis (Published in Poems about the Seasons, chosen by Brian Moses) 2015, Wayland

Cynthia Cotten


Cynthia Cotten

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.


Here is one of Cynthia’s poems:



This may look

like a plain,


piece of plastic

but it’s really a


More powerful than

the smartest phone,

more powerful than

a tv remote,

more powerful than

a hundred apps,

my library card

unlocks the world

and more

with a single



© Cynthia Cotten All rights reserved (originally published in Jumping Off Library Shelves—poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins—Wordsong, 2015)

Paul Cookson


Paul Cookson

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.
And here is Paul’s fab favourite poem:

Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tear apart

The burning of ambition

That fires the drive inside your heart


Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tell you that you can’t

Let no-one hold you back

Let no-one tell you that you won’t

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky

Let no-one steal your dreams

Follow your heart

Follow your soul

For only when you follow them

Will you feel truly whole

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky


© Paul Cookson

Pie Corbett


Pie Corbett

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 Writing which 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;

the secret of how clouds travel;

the stillness in an opal’s centre;

a spider’s web that has snared

a bee from the hives at the edge of the lake;

a thief’s subtle grin as he sneaks into a house;

the moment when two ideas clash together;

the sudden grating of a car’s brakes

juddering to a terrible halt;

a whip of sea spray gathering

in the wind on an ocean wide;

flames curling their sulphurous tongues;

snowflakes settling on pine trees

and a gobstopper made of honey.


©  Pie Corbett 2017

Dom Conlon


Dom Conlon

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:


Red Bike
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.
© Dom Conlon

Andrew Collett


Andrew Collett

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.


Here is one of Andrew’s lovely poems:


Autumn Leaves


Around the playground

autumn leaves

parachute down

from half-dressed trees,

silently seeking

hiding places,

with their wrinkled,

yellow faces,

looking for

a rescue boat;

a classroom door;

a child’s coat,

trying to steal

a minute more

until lost for good

on the playground floor.


© Andrew Collett

Mandy Coe


Mandy Coe

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


Here is a poem from Mandy:




When I dance

my blood runs like a river can,

my feet fly like the birds can,

my heart beats like a drum can.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

Flying over rooftops

I see my town below me

where everybody knows me,

where all my problems throw me,

where heavy feet can slow me.

But nobody can, can stop me

when I dance.

My blood runs a race.

My feet fly in space.

My heart beats the pace.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

© Mandy Coe (From Michael Rosen’s A-Z, The Best Children’s Poems from Agard to Zephaniah, Puffin)

Justin Coe


Justin Coe

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…


© Justin Coe

Jane Clarke


Jane Clarke

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:


Drop in the Ocean


Sploshing around

in life’s restless sea,

there’s a drop in the ocean,

and that drop is me.

Rocked by the waves,

or washed up on the shore,

I’m a minuscule drop,

among zillions more.

I’m a drop in the ocean

of life’s restless sea.

But there’d be no ocean

without drops like me.


© Jane Clarke

James Carter


James Carter

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.


Here is a fabulous shape poem of his:


© James Carter

John Dougherty


John Dougherty

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!)


Note to an English Teacher
A poem
Is like a hamster
(Unless it is a long poem
In which case
It is like a large hamster)
And lively
(Unless it is a dull poem
In which case
It is like a sleepy hamster).
A poem has no fur
But it has a life
A life of its own
Given it by the poet
(Who is to the poem
As God to a hamster)
And as a hamster 
Does what a hamster 
Was made for
So a poem
Does what it
Was written for.
Perhaps, though,
The most striking resemblance
Is that you can take a poem
As you dissect a hamster
To see how it works
But, once you have done so, you find
On putting it back together
That, like a hamster in the same situation
It does not work
Half as well
As it used to.
© John Dougherty

Rebecca Kai Dotlich


Rebecca Kai Dotlich

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.


Here is one of Rebecca’s poems:


A Circle of Sun


I’m dancing.

I’m leaping.

I’m skipping about.

I gallop.

I grin.

I giggle.

I shout.

I’m Earth’s many colors.

I’m morning and night.

I’m honey on toast.

I’m funny.

I’m bright.

I’m swinging.

I’m singing.

I wiggle.

I run.

I’m a piece of the sky

in a circle of sun.


© Rebecca Kai Dotlich (From LEMONADE SUN published by Boyds Mills Press)

Jan Dean


Jan Dean

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.


Here is one of Jan’s fabulous poems;


I caught a grasshopper –

I caught a grasshopper –

heard its saw-tooth squeaky song

then let my eyes follow my ears

to the pale blade where it sat,

moved soft and slow

so that it wouldn’t know I was there,

cupped it in my hands

before its hairpin legs could flick

and bounce it far away.

I caught a grasshopper –

felt it tickle in my pink palms.

Gotcha.  Laughed.

But what can you do

with a grasshopper?

What use is a grasshopper

without the field,

without the sky?

How can it be a green scratch

against the blue

if you don’t let it leap?

So I opened the box of my fingers –

It wasn’t mine to keep.


© Jan Dean (The Penguin in Lost Property by Jan Dean & Roger Stevens. Macmillan 2014)

Shauna Darling Robertson


Shauna Darling Robertson

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:



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,

appeared on

two hundred and twenty six television chat shows,

and blown his horn in

a trillion towns covering seventy-six per cent

of all credit-rated countries.

But here’s the rub –

jazz sax

isn’t filling his cup.

He just wants to sit at a desk,

adding up.


© Shauna Darling Robertson

David Elliott


David Elliott

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

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



Your rattish snout, your naked tail

dragging on the woodland trail:

you’re not a classic beauty.

You bump along the woodland track

your babies clinging to your back:

there’s beauty, too, in duty.


© David Elliott

Matt Forrest Esenwine


Matt Forrest Esenwine

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


Here is one of his lovely poems:


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


Vivian French

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


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


The Crocodile and the Undertaker


‘A question,’ said the crocodile

While walking down a hill

‘I’ve drunk a vat of gasoline

Will I be very ill?’

The undertaker rubbed his hands

‘I trust you’ve made your will?’

The crocodile looked at him

And shed a silver tear

‘I sometimes think, my oldest friend,

You wish I wasn’t here.’

“No, no,’ the undertaker said.

‘I hold you very dear.’

He smiled an undertakers smile

His thoughts were cold as ie

‘A crocodile bag and shoes

Would bring a pretty price…’

But all he said was, ‘Let me buy

You dinner somewhere nice.’

‘Once there,’ the undertaker thought

‘I’ll have no more delays.

I’ll light the match. the gasoline

Will make a merry blaze

And so my crocodilly friend

Will end his scaly days.’

They found a little baker’s shop

And ordered apple pie

The undertaker lit a match —

It fizzled with a sigh

The crocodile looked at him

And winked his yellow eye

‘I think perhaps it’s time to dine

Pray, pass the pepper shaker

Today’s the day, my oldest friend

You go to meet your maker!’

He opened wide his toothy jaws

And ate the undertaker.


© Vivian French

John Foster


John Foster

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


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


Beat That


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.

Beat that! He said.


Our hamster swam the Channel,

Climbed the Eiffel Tower

And rowed across the Atlantic within 24 hours.

He was knighted by the Queen

And became Prime Minister.

Beat that! I said.


Our rabbit helped Superman

beat off an attack of mutant aliens.

He became King of the World,

and lived until he was 900 years old.

Beat that! He said.


Our giraffe fought King Kong,

Became Master of the Universe

And ruled for a million years.

Beat that! I said.


A giraffe couldn’t do that, he said.

This one did, I said.


© John Foster


Philip Gross


Philip Gross

Philip Gross was born in Delabole, north Cornwall. Until recently he was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. He is a Quaker, and that special relationship between words and silence informs much of what he writes; poetry for adults and for children, thought-provoking fiction for young people, schools opera libretti, radio short stories and plays. His children’s poetry includes The All-Nite Café, illustrated by Claire Fletcherwhich won the Signal Award, and Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. Philip’s work enabling poetry in schools over thirty years has often been site-specific, working for many years with the National Trust in Cornwall on their Arts In Trust scheme. His new book, Dark Sky Park, Poems from the Edge of Nature illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry) is available soon, here. His website is here.


Here is one of Philip’s fabulous poems:


Ways of Conquering Everest


… at all, the first time, ever

… by the direct route, in winter

… solo

… without oxygen or breathing apparatus

… travelling light

… all of the above, but barefoot

… without toes

… in secret, like under the bedclothes,

with a torch, by night

… blindfold, trusting your guide


… without maps, or GPS, or compass

… without a clue

… very politely, in the English fashion: after

            you; no, after you

… or if even that feels awkward, then

forming an orderly queue

… the whole family, together

(under 4s come free)

… in the amateur way: did I climb that? Oh!

as if accidentally

… as a tourist, in appalling shorts,

only here for the view

… in swimming costumes or

… sky-streaking

(very quickly, and completely nude)

… by mountain bike

… by yak

… by yeti

… by hook or by crook

… by the skin of your teeth

… by an enormous catapult, fired by a hundred sherpas

from the valley miles beneath

… in high heels      .

… in fun-furry slippers

… in princessy pink

… by extreme patience, with global warming,

without ice (and sooner than you think)

… piggy-back

… wheelbarrow-fashion

… as a three-legged race

… abseiling from a hot air balloon

… skydiving from the edge of space

… by none of the above,

I mean, let’s not go to extremes

… when no one is looking,

not even yourself

… in your dreams


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

Nikki Grimes

© Aaron Lemen


Nikki Grimes

Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time. A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults. As an accomplished and widely anthologised poet of both children’s and adult verse, she has conducted poetry readings and lectures at international schools all over the world, while short-term mission projects have taken her to such trouble spots as Haiti. Nikki has been honoured with the NCTE Award for Poetry and the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award from Kent State University. In 2017, she was presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Her website is here.


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


Lights out for Linda


I fumble with the heavy

flashlight as midnight chases

morning and the pages

multiply.  It’s past time I put

away this page-turner and

close my eyes, but

the hero is hanging from

a cliff, so I can’t quite quit until

the writer shows me what

happens next.


© Nikki Grimes

Louise Greig

Louise Greig

Louise Greig lives in Aberdeen with her husband and her rescue Greyhound, Smoky, where she writes children’s picture books and poetry.  She has been joint winner of The Manchester Writing for Children Prize 2014, winner of The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2015, winner of The Wigtown Poetry Prize 2015, winner of The McLellan Poetry Prize 2017 and winner of The Battered Moons Poetry Prize 2017. Her debut picture book for Egmont UK was short-listed for The Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2018. Louise loves birds, animals, mountains, rivers, forests and children’s literature. Louise’s Amazon Author link is is here.


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

just because.

To be a bear is to love honey,

but not need money to buy it

(can be stolen from bees but do not try this at home).

To be a bear is to slumber and lope,

lumber, grumble and hope (for honey).

To be a bear is to like to roam,

up mountains and down,

to stand at waterfalls all paws and snout

and wait for unsuspecting trout.

To be a bear is to be big, brown and furry

and not to worry

about non-bear things

like what are wings.

To be a bear is not to have to know

the French word for snow (neige),

or “Hello, I am a bear”

(Bonjour, je suis un ours).

To be a bear is only to have to know

the language of bear.

To be a bear is to be a bear

and only a bear.

To be a bear is to be free,

to be wild and to live in a wood.

To be a bear is good.

© Louise Grieg

Matt Goodfellow


Matt Goodfellow

Matt Goodfellow is a poet and primary school teacher from Manchester, England. He is a National Poetry Day Ambassador for the Forward Arts Foundation. His acclaimed debut collection, Carry Me Away, illustrated by Sue Hardy-Dawson, was released in 2016 and his most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), written with Liz Brownlee and Roger Stevens, and Chicken on the Roof  illustrated by Hanna Asen (Otter Barry 2018). He still spends two days a week working as a primary school teacher; on the other days he visits schools, libraries and festivals to deliver high-energy, fun-filled poetry performances and workshops. Matt says he wasn’t supposed to be a poet, he was supposed to be a rock star – but he was awful at music! His website is here.


Here is one of Matt’s gorgeous poems:



She left last week for another school

somewhere out near Hartlepool.

I didn’t cry, I played it cool –

now I wish I hadn’t.

Deleted photos, mobile number,

left her standing there to wonder

why I slipped her arm and shunned her –

now I wish I hadn’t.

They made her cards and sang along.

I wouldn’t, couldn’t sing along.

Swallowed words, held my tongue –

how I wish I hadn’t.

© Matt Goodfellow (from Chicken on the Roof – Otter Barry Books)

Chrissie Gittins


Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins is an award-winning poetry writer for children and adults, and also writes short stories and plays. Her poems have been widely anthologised and animated for Poetry Pie and CBeebies on TV. She has been visiting schools as a poet for over 20 years, is an experienced teacher and has read at festivals all over Great Britain. Chrissie has written 5 children’s poetry collections. Now You See Me, Now You…, illustrated by Gunnlavg Moen, and I Don’t Want an Avocado, illustrated by Kev Adamson, were shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award. Her latest book is Adder, Bluebell, Lobster, illustrated by Paul Bommer. Her website is here.


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.


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

Charles Ghigna


Charles Ghigna

Charles Ghigna – or Father Goose® as he is often known, lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults that have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Not only does he speak at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, he has read his poems all over the world. More information can be read in the spotlight on Charles Ghigna, here. His website is here, and this is a link to his latest book, The Night the Forest Came to Townillustrated by Annie Wilkinson. 


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

The Cold Gray Days of Winter


In the cold gray days of winter

When the sky turns iron blue

And the leafless trees stand silent

With nothing left to do,


There comes a cry across the land

That carries seeds of spring,

The echo of the distant hawk,

The sun upon his wing.


© Charles Ghigna

Raven Howell


Raven Howell

Raven Howell is the author of several children’s picture poetry books. Her most recent releases, Shimmer, Songs of Night (Spork), available here in the UK and here in the US, and A Star Full of Sky (Daffydowndilly Press), available here in the UK and here in the US, won several awards for Best in Children’s Poetry. She writes poems for a variety of magazines such as Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Stinkwaves, Cricket, Babybug, Hello Highlights, Jack and Jill, and High Five, and enjoys presenting children’s poetry workshops in libraries and to classrooms. She’s a member of the SCBWI, ILA, and is Creative and Publishing Advisor with RedCloverReader. Living in New York’s Hudson Valley, she can be found enjoying the mountains, the summer sun, and when she’s not writing poetry, she’s reading it! Her website is here.


Here is one of Raven’s poems:


In Outer Space


Looking through

My telescope

Space doesn’t seem so far;

Glowing above our neighborhood –

A crescent moon

And stars.

If somebody in space looked back

I wonder what they’d see…

Would they spy my telescope?

Would they notice me?


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

Jackie Hosking


Jackie Hosking

Jackie Hosking’s most favourite thing to do is write in rhyme and meter. Her second most favourite thing to do is walk amongst the Australian Bush. Her third most favourite thing to do is to combine the two. She also likes to copy other poets as she’s done in her picture book, The Croc and the Platypus, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. (Only available in Australia or New Zealand, I’m afraid!) If you read it very carefully you’ll likely hear echoes of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat. Jackie’s website is here.


Here is one of Jackie’s poems:



Here she comes

whisper the trees

boughs sway heavy

with gossiping leaves

Where will she go?

murmur the breezes

However, whenever

wherever she pleases

Here she comes

whispers the sea

droplets colliding

with gossipy glee

Where will she go?

murmurs the sand

However, whenever

wherever she can

Here she comes

whispers the river

gossip like ripples

disperse with a quiver

Where will she go?

murmur the reeds

However, whenever

wherever she needs.


© Jackie Hosking

Lee Bennett Hopkins


Lee Bennett Hopkins

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 PoemsCity 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:



(For Augusta Baker)

As she speaks


leap from pages —


there are

friends like

frog and toad —


I walk

down a

yellow brick road.


Worlds of paper

disappear —



Miss Augusta

and I

are here

in a room

filled with magic




and as her voice


the highest

rafter —


I believe in



I believe in


Happily ever after.


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

Hannah Hodgson


Hannah Hodgson

Hannah has won numerous young poets network challenges organised by the poetry society; and she goes in to schools to run poetry workshops. Her first pamphlet Dear Body has been published by Wayleave Press, which details what life is like as a young person with a disability. Hannah writes about her disability as she thinks it is important children and young people understand the challenges that differently able people face. Her blog is here.


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.


© Hannah Hodgson

Sophie Herxheimer


Sophie Herxheimer

Sophie Herxheimer is a prolific, multi-disciplinary artist whose poetry is fiercely energetic, erudite and punchy. She’s held residencies for LIFT, Southbank Centre and Transport for London. Exhibitions include The Whitworth, The Poetry Library and The National Portrait Gallery. She’s illustrated five fairy tale collections, made several artists books, made a life size concrete poem in the shape of Mrs Beeton sited next to her grave; and a pie big enough for seven drama students to jump out of singing, on the lawn of an old peoples’ home. Sophie does the wonderful artwork for National Poetry Day every year. Recent publications include Velkom to Inklandt, Short Books Ltd. Sophie teaches for The Poetry School and The Royal Drawing School, and collaborates extensively. Her website is here and Twitter here.


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:




Not zo mainy Dais zinz ve arrivink.

Zis grey iss like Bearlin, zis same grey Day

ve hef. Zis norzern Vezzer, oont ze demp Street.

A biet off Rain voant hurt, will help ze Treez

on zis Hempstet Heese vee see in Fekt.

Vy shoot I mind zet?


I try viz ze busses, Herr Kondooktor eskink

me… for vot? I don’t eckzectly remember;

Fes plees? To him, my Penny I hent ofa –

He nods viz a keint Smile- Fanks Luv!

He sez. Oh! I em his Luff – turns Hentel

on Machine, out kurls a tickett.


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

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


© Sophie Herxheimer


Steven Herrick


Steven Herrick

Steven Herrick is the author of twenty-four books for children and young adults. His books have twice won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and have been shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards on eight occasions. He is widely recognised as a pioneer of the verse-novel genre for young adults. He is also the author of six travel books. He spends nine months of the year visiting schools in Australia and three months on his bicycle somewhere in Europe.


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


the poetry visitor


a poet came to our school

and read lots of his poems.

Some were funny,

some sad,

some even made Ms Stevrakis laugh,

especially the one about kissing.

At the end, Ms Stevrakis suggested

we ask the poet questions about his poetry.

After a long silence,

Rachel asked, ‘How much money do you make?’

Matthew asked, ‘Where do you live?’

Sarah asked, ‘How old are you?’

Tran asked, ‘Can you speak Vietnamese?’

Sam asked, ‘How come you’ve got a bald head?’

and Peter asked, ‘Can I go to the toilet please?’


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

Georgia Heard


Georgia Heard

Georgia Heard is a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. She received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University. Currently, she is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and in schools around the United States and the world. She is the author of numerous books on writing including: Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School. In addition, her poems have been widely anthologised and she has published several children’s poetry books including Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky: Animal Poems, illustrated by Jennifer Dewey, Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems,  illustrated by John Sandford and The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems, illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé. Her new book Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices is forthcoming in 2019 (WordSong/Boyds Mills Press). Georgia’s website is here and Twitter here.


Here is one of Georgia’s poems:



It skims the pond’s surface,

searching for gnats, mosquitoes and flies.

Outspread wings blur with speed.

It touches down

and stops to sun itself on the dock.

Wings flicker and still:

stained glass windows

with sun shining through.


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

Matt Harvey


Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey is a writer poet, and children’s poet. He often appears in anthologies, and he has written the rhyming texts  Shopping With Dad illustrated by Miriam Latimer, and the Beastie and the Boys, illustrated by Chloe Uden. Shopping With Dad was made into a film by CBBC and has been translated into several languages. Matt has also written lyrics for children’s song cycles, collaborating with composer Stephen Deazley on The Songbook of Unsingable Songs, A Little Book of Monsters and more recently Peck! a schools’ opera for the Mahogany Opera Company’s ‘Snappy Opera’ series. His website is here.


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)


© Mat Harvey

A. F. Harrold


A. F. Harrold

A.F. Harrold is a children’s author and children’s poet who writes and performs for both grown ups and children. He can often be found in school halls pointing at children and sharing his poems, and even more often in the bath, thinking them up… though he’d rather you didn’t come in, thank you, because that would be weird. Just be patient. His latest poetry book is Things You Find in a Poet’s Beard, illustrated by Chris Riddell.  A. F.’s Website is here and Twitter here.


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.


© A.F. Harrold and Chris Riddell

Avis Harley


Avis Harley

Avis Harley was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has an MA from the University of B.C. where she taught poetry in the Language and Literacy Education Department.  An elementary school teacher for many years with teaching experience in Canada and England, Avis has also been a writer-in-residence, mentor, and workshop leader.  She has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan.  Avis has written several books of poetry for children, and some of her books she has also illustrated.  Many of her poems appear in anthologies and magazines, and often focus on the natural world.  Her writing reflects a keen interest in experimenting with poetic forms. Avis’ book Africa Acrostics is here (UK) and here (US).


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




How handy are the monarch’s taste-full feet

reporting where the treasure nectar flows!

Whenever they have savoured something sweet

they phone Proboscis to uncoil its hose.

This gives the butterfly a lovely straw

to carry out her dainty floral sips.

So delicately does she drink and draw,

she never needs to nectar up her lips.

Imagine if we tasted with our toes!

What grounded nectars do you think we’d find?

Soft grass or soil? Cement? Or icy snows?

Cool cotton sheets? The sea? An orange rind?

If we would let our toes seek what we eat,

what smorgasbord would greet our eager feet?


© Avis Harley (From The Monarch’s Progress, all about monarch butterflies, also illustrated by Avis. Published in the U.S. by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press)

Sue Hardy-Dawson


Sue Hardy-Dawson

Sue Hardy-Dawson is a Yorkshire born poet, artist, and illustrator, and has been widely published in children’s poetry anthologies. She had worked with children for over twenty years. She enjoys visiting schools and has provided workshops for the Prince of Wales Foundation for Children and the Arts. Being dyslexic she takes a special interest in encouraging reluctant readers and writers. Her first solo collection, of illustrated poems, Where Zebras Go (Otter-Barry Books) was long listed for the North Somerset Teachers’ 2017 Book Award, 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:



where zebras go

where the amber river slows

where the alligator wallows

where the cruel acacia grows

where the hippo haunts the shallows

Where the sleeping lions doze

where antelope meekly swallows

where the sky and land sit close

where the trees are dark as gallows

Where the hot wind ebbs and flows

where the grass is coarse and fallow

where the plains grow dry as bones

where the earth is scorched and yellow

Where the desert soil corrodes

where the trees are parched and sallow

where vultures stoop in funeral clothes

where the clouds are looming  shadows

Where the dust creeps down the road

where the air is still and hollow

where mountains fall and woodlands close

where the mud is thick as tallow

where the elephants leave their bones

where gazelle and bison follow

where the great Sirocco blows

where the rains go, zebra goes


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


Mike Jenkins


Mike Jenkins

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


Here is a poem from the above collection:


My Gran

My Gran feeds the cat

on bits of cheese,

on bits of chocolate biscuit

crumbled up ;

the cat isn’t very pleased.

She calls her ‘Pussy Puss’ –

sometimes she calls the cushion

by the same name.

My Gran burns kettles,

burns meals-on-wheels,

has been known to burn

a hole in her dress ;

accuses the Home Help

of stealing her handkerchiefs.

Finds hankies and washes them

dirtier than they were before.

My Gran falls through the floor

every morning, needs cups of tea

to bring her round to insanity ;

needs glasses of sherry

to help her forget

that she can’t remember.

Phones the butcher

to phone the doctor.

Lays tea at five

and supper at nine,

asks her dead husband

the time of year,

the day of time.

Blocks her bedrrom door

with a bulky bureau

which screams every night

like a ghost.

My Gran likes only one

piece of toast

for tea and breakfast.

My Gran plays patience

and cheats ,

drinks only one glass

of sherry a day,

yet two bottles in half a week.

Threatens to have me turned out,

to call the police.

She’s mad I think,

or the clocks have stopped.


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

Jackie Kay


Jackie Kay

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


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?


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

Mike Kavanagh


Mike Kavanagh

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


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.


© Mike Kavanagh

Alan Katz


Alan Katz

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


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


Contraction Dissatisfaction


It wasn’t isn’t.

It isn’t wasn’t.

It can’t be shouldn’t.

It shouldn’t be doesn’t.

It mustn’t be wouldn’t.

It wouldn’t be mustn’t.

It mayn’t be mightn’t.

It mightn’t be mayn’t.

I’m skipping this homework.

To go out and playn’t.


© Alan Katz

Daphne Kitching

Daphne Kitching

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.


Come Camping


Come camping, come camping,

Its really great,

With spider-flavoured sausages

And slugs stuck to your plate.

There are earwigs in your wellingtons

And ants sharing your bed,

The wasps you sprayed are fighting back

And targeting your head.

The hollow where you pitched your tent

Has turned into a bog,

And that dripping muddy monster

Is what used to be your dog.

Your clothes are cold and smelly,

Your sleeping bag feels damp,

It’s a riot, it’s sensational,

So come with us and camp!

© Daphne Kitching


B. J. Lee


B. J. Lee

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


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


© B. J. Lee

J. Patrick Lewis 


J. Patrick Lewis 

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


Here is one of his lovely poems;


How the Yellow Jacket

Lost her Shyness


The King of England

Once was stung

Upon his royal bottom,

And you could hear

A yellow jacket

Yell, “Oh, boy, I got ‘im!”


And that is how

The yellow jacket

Finally lost her shyness,

And how the English

Came to call the King

“His Royal Highness!”


© J. Patrick Lewis

Alistair Lane


Alistair Lane

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


Here is one of his poems:


The Snail In My Garden


There’s a snail in my garden

Hiding in its shell

I’m not sure where it’s been

It’s sometimes hard to tell

There’s one thing though that troubles me

And causes me some doubt.

The answer to this question:

Is it in or out?


© Alistair Lane

Renée LaTulippe


Renée LaTulippe

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


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.

Dragonflies dart in snapdragony bliss.

An afternoon falls to the whippoorwill’s song—

what manifestation of happy is this!

© Renée M. LaTulippe 2015

Attie Lime

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.

Look Who’s in the Toy Box

My mum and dad aren’t normal

I know saying it’s not good

I love them and they’re special

but I’d change them if I could.

The problem isn’t homework

or making me do chores

they cook nice food and buy me gifts

and neither of them snores.

The issue with my parents

which has got me in a fix

is that they’re made of Lego –

yes – they’re made of plastic bricks.

It might sound fun to others

but believe me when I say

Mum’s head rolling down the playground

is the worst part of my day.

My dad is strong and muscly

he can lift up Lego trees

but he never goes upstairs to bed

as he cannot bend his knees.

Mum has two expressions

she can smile and she can scowl

one on the front and one on the back

her head swivels like an owl.

My friends are understanding

my teacher’s been a star

but I’ve decided to exchange them

for a turbo racing car.

© Attie Lime

Laura Mucha


Laura Mucha

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


This is one of Laura’s great poems:


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


Cheryl Moskowitz

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


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.
Think of all the people you have known,
and the ones you haven’t met yet.
Think of the parties, the sleepovers,
the games, the conversations.
Think of the walks and the talks
and all the silly arguments.
Think of all the times you’ve felt happy
and all the times you’ve felt sad.
Think of all the things you’d like to do
and all the things you’ve done.
If you had it to do all over again
Would I still be your best friend?
© Cheryl Moskowitz
Brian Moses


Brian Moses

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


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

when you take a trip to Camber Sands,

but whatever you say just won’t impress

the inhabitants of Shoeburyness.


© Brian Moses

Michaela Morgan


Michaela Morgan

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


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




A girl with a book.

A girl with a book.

That’s what has scared them –

A girl, with a book.

They get onto the bus.

They call out my name.

They aim. And they fire.

A shot to the brain.

Because a girl with a book,

A girl with a voice,

A girl with a brain,

A girl with a choice,

A girl with a plan

To have rights, like a man.

That’s what they’re scared of

One girl, with a book.

A girl who has words.

A girl with a pen.

A girl to be heard

With support of her friends

Who want to live free –

That’s what they fear

a girl just like me.


© Michaela Morgan

Trevor Millum


Trevor Millum

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

Spring in the Yarm Fard


The mat keowed

The mow cooed

The bog darked

The kigeon pooed

The squicken chalked

The surds bang

The kwuk dacked

The burch rells chang

And then, after all the dacking and the changing

The chalking and the banging

The darking and the pooing

The keowing and the kooing

There was a mewtiful beaumont

Of queace and pie-ate.


© Trevor Millum

Roger McGough

Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS


Roger McGough

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

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


Here is one of his brilliant poems:


The Colour Collector

A stranger called this morning

Dressed all in black and grey

Put every colour into a bag

And carried them away

The goldenness of cornflakes,

The ivory of milk

The silverness of soup spoons,

The see-througness of silk

The greenness of tennis courts

When play has just begun

The orangeness of oranges

Glowing in the sun

The blueness of a dolphin

Nosing through the sea

The redness of the breast,

The yellowy blur of a bee

The creaminess of polar bears

Sliding on the floes

The little piggy pinkness

Of tiny tickly toes

The sky that smiled a rainbow

Now wears a leaden frown

Who’s sobbing in the circus tent?

Wizzo the monochrome clown

A stranger called this morning

He didn’t leave his name

We live now in the shadows

Life will never be the same


© Roger McGough

Kim Norman


Kim Norman

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 Bedtime illustrated 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?”


© Kim Norman

Judith Nicholls


Judith Nicholls

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!


Here is a lovely poem by Judith:




Watch me,

touch me,


I am



gone with the wind,

shiver of air,


Watch me,

touch me,


I hide, I glide,

I stride through air,

shatter the day-star dappled light

over forest floor.

The world’s in my grasp!

I am windsong,



the arm of the law.


© Judith Nicholls (1990, from DRAGONSFIRE by Judith Nicholls, pub. Faber. Reprinted by permission of the author.)

Kenn Nesbitt


Kenn Nesbitt

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.


© Kenn Nesbitt

Eric Ode


Eric Ode

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.


This is one of Eric’s great poems!




I built a fort.

It needs a door.

I built a boat.

It needs an oar.

I built a shoe.

It needs a heel.

I built a car.

It needs a wheel.


I baked a cake.

It needs a plate.

I built a fence.

It needs a gate.

I wrote a poem.

It needs an end.

I built a fort.

It needs a friend.


© Eric Ode

Sally Odgers


Sally Odgers

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

lofty black as midnight creeping softly

© Sally Odgers

Tommy Olofsson

Tommy Olofsson

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:


The Shadow Inside Me 


Night has driven the shadow

into my own body. It’s an inward

robe that stretches its arms

and legs into my limbs, whispers

like silk along my spine,

turns darker and darker until it

finally comes off in me as the colour

of sleep, behind whose eyelids

two black flames are flickering


© Tommy Olofsson, Translated by Jean Pearson (First published in Elemental Poems, White Pine Press.)


Brian Patten

Photography Credit: APEX

Brian Patten

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:


Geography Lesson

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.

The maps were redrawn on the classroom wall;

His name was forgotten, it faded away.

But a lesson he never knew he taught

Is with me to this day.

I travel to where the green leaves burn,

to where the ocean’s glass-clear and blue,

to all those places my teacher taught me to love

But which he never knew


© Brian Patten (First published in Juggling With Gerbils (Puffin, Penguin Books). For permission to reproduce, contact Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary Agents.)

Trevor Parsons


Trevor Parsons

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.


This is one of his witty poems:


All About Poets

A poet is for life

not just for Christmas Day.

Stroking a silky-haired poet

can soothe your troubles away.

A long-haired breed of poet

should always be kept well-groomed.

Keep their sleeping-quarters

in a draught-free part of the room.

Do not indulge your poet

with titbits from your plate.

Encourage regular exercise

to avoid excessive weight.

It is generally thought unhealthy

to have poets in your bed.

Be sensitive about disposal

once your poet is dead.

Sorry, I meant to say ‘pet’.


© Trevor Parsons

Shazea Quraishi


Shazea Quraishi

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.

The dark was like his fur,

the sea’s breathing echoed his breathing.

I left home behind, an empty skin.

Alone, I walked taller, balanced better.

So I came to the gates of this city –

tall, black gates with teeth.

Here you find me, keeping my mouth small,

hiding pointed teeth and telling stories,

concealing their truth as I conceal

the thick black fur on my back.


© Shazea Quraishi

Coral Rumble


Coral Rumble

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:




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.


© Coral Rumble

Michael Rosen


Michael Rosen

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:




I’m a suitcase

in the attic all year

I’m a suitcase

stuffed full of gear

I’m a suitcase

crammed in a hold

I’m a suitcase

freezing cold

Well yes…

I may be a suitcase

but I want to be free

I want to go to the beach,

and swim in the sea

I want to go to the mountains

and learn how to ski

I want to hear music

dance and shout

You leave me in the room

when you go out.

But I don’t want to be baggage

It’s not what I want to be.

I’m a suitcase

and I want to be free.

Next trip you take

you’re in for a shock

I may be quiet

shut tight with a lock

But while you’re out

enjoying the sun

I’ll escape

I’ll be on the run

A suitcase on the move

looking for fun.

I’ll be that suitcase

Yes, that’ll be me

I’m a suitcase

who wants to be free.


© Michael Rosen

Rachel Rooney


Rachel Rooney

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 Jenkinswas 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.


Here is one of her wonderful poems:




Who cast the P from a spell

sold it for profit as sell,

then kept what was left

in a locked letter chest?

And who sucked the O from a hoop,

hopped off with that loop

which she balanced for fun

on the tip of her tongue?

Who stole the E from a cheat

in the street when they met for a chat,

slipped her hand in a bag

and made off with the swag?

Then who plucked the T from a thorn,

carved an ivory pen out of horn

and dipped it in ink…

Well, who do you think did that?


© Rachel Rooney (From The Language of Cat, Francis Lincoln Books)

John H Rice


John H Rice

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


© John H Rice

John Rice


John Rice

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.


Here is one of John’s lovely poems:



I have an eye of silver,

I have an eye of gold,

I have a tongue of reed-grass

and a story to be told.

I have a hand of metal,

I have a hand of clay,

I have two arms of granite

and a song for every day.

I have a foot of damson,

I have a foot of corn,

I have two legs of leaf-stalk

and a dance for every morn.

I have a dream of water,

I have a dream of snow,

I have a thought of wildfire

and a harp-string long and low.

I have an eye of silver,

I have an eye of gold,

I have a tongue of reed-grass

and a story to be told.


© John Rice

George Szirtes


George Szirtes

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.


Here is one of his great poems:


How to be a Tiger


The scary tiger roars and roars,

it slinks through shadows on all fours.

Children beware! Are strange dogs howling?

No, it is the tiger growling.

The tiger growls, its eyes ablaze,

but we too have our tiger ways,

we too can pad through the dark wood

of the cosmic neighbourhood.

Pretend this is the forest floor.

Pad tiger, pad! Now children, ROAR!


© George Szirtes

Alan Summers 


Alan Summers 

Alan Summers, Wiltshire, England, is President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, and co-founder of Call of the Page, here. He

Alan will be bringing out his book Writing Poetry: the haiku way later in 2018.


Here is one of his award-winning haiku:


the scent of rain
birdsong stretches
as far as Mars


© Alan Summers (Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum Selected Haiku Anthology, Japan 2017)

Roger Stevens


Roger Stevens

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!


The Brown Bear

In the dark wood

In a clearing

Sleeps a brown bear

Dreaming, dreaming

His skin is furless

His paws are clawless

He walks into the city

Lawless, lawless

The moon is hidden

The clouds are weeping

A princess slumbers

Sleeping, sleeping

The thief creeps through

The royal bedroom

And steals her ruby

A priceless heirloom

The ruby glows

With fire and lightning

A spell is cast

So frightening, frightening

The thief grows fur

His body thickens

His hands grow claws

He sickens, sickens

Beneath the black sky

Thunder rumbles

Into the dark wood

He stumbles, stumbles

For in the ruby,

Gleaming, gleaming

A wizard’s mind

Is scheming, scheming

Now, in the dark wood

In a clearing

Sleeps a brown bear

Dreaming, dreaming


© Roger Stevens First published in Moondust and Mystery. Chosen by John Foster. OUP. 2002

Lemn Sissay


Lemn Sissay

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

And fall into reservoirs of drinking water.

Let harsh memories burst into fireworks that melt

In the dark pupils of a child’s eyes

And disappear like shoals of darting silver fish.

And let the waves reach the shore with

Shhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhhhhh


© Lemn Sissay (Reproduced by kind permission of the author)

Marilyn Singer


Marilyn Singer

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.


Here is one of her poems:


All over the world,




Move your feet.




feel the beat,

the rhythm.


a partner.


your shoes.

All you can lose are

the blues.

Dance, dance away.

Now’s your chance!

What do you say?


What do you say?

Now’s your chance.

Dance, dance away

the blues.

All you can lose are

your shoes.


a partner.


the rhythm.

Feel the beat.




move your feet.




all over the world!


© Marilyn Singer (From her book Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing, ill. by Kristi Valiant, published by Dial, 2017)

Andrea Shavick


Andrea Shavick

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.


Here is Andrea’s shark poem!


Grandma Was Eaten by a Shark!


Grandma was eaten by a shark

Dad, by a killer whale

And my baby brother got slurped up

By a rather hungry sea snail

A cuttlefish cut my mum to bits

An octopus strangled my sister

A jellyfish stung my auntie’s toes

Giving her terrible blisters

A pufferfish poisoned my grandpa

A dogfish ate my cat

And then a catfish ate my dog!

I was very upset about that

So you go for a swim if you like

Just don’t ask me to come too

I’m staying here with my camera

I can’t wait to see what gets you!


© Andrea Shavick

Joshua Seigal


Joshua Seigal

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.


Here is the great title poem from that book!


I Dont LikPoetry


I don’t like similes.

Every time I try to think of one

my brain feels like a vast, empty desert;

my eyes feel like raisins floating in an ocean;

my fingers feel like sweaty sausages.

I don’t like metaphors.

Whenever I attempt them

a hammer starts beating in my chest;

lava starts bubbling in my veins;

zombies have a fight in my stomach.

I don’t like alliteration.

We learnt about it in school

but it’s seriously, stupendously silly;

definitely drastically difficult;

terribly, troublingly tricky.

I don’t like onomatopoeia.

I wish I could blow it up

with a ZAP! and a BANG! and a CRASH!;

a BOOM! and a CLANG! and a POW!;

a CLASH! and a BAM! and a THUD!

And I don’t like repetition

I don’t like repetition

I don’t like repetition…


© Joshua Seigal

Robert Schechter


Robert Schechter

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.

© Robert Schechter (From One Minute to Bedtime, Ed. Kenn Nesbitt, Art by Christoph Niemann, Little, Brown and Company)

Darren Sardelli


Darren Sardelli

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!

© Darren Sardelli (All Rights Reserved)

Jill Townsend


Jill Townsend

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.


Here is one of her lovely poems:


  1. The 17th of March.

Dear Uncle,

Thank you for your invitation

to sail with you next month. I’d very much

like to accept but there’s a complication –

I really ought to write and ask my parents.

They may not let me miss more time from school

after my illness. So, with your forbearance,

I’ll write. But stopping me would be too cruel!

I hear that the Titanic’s really something –

the biggest thing afloat, that’s what they say.

Her maiden voyage! And I could be coming.

If they say no, I think I’ll stow away!

Perhaps there’s hope though. Maybe they’ll agree.

I’ll let you know.

Your loving nephew,


© Jill Townsend 2000

Nick Toczek

© Gaynor Toczek

Nick Toczek

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!)


Here is one of his great poems:



When round the zoo it starts to freeze

The chimpanzees’ll hug their knees

While monkeys, donkeys, fish and fleas

And marmosets and manatees,

Brown bears, baboons and bumble bees

And other breeds of beasts like these

Bronchitically sneeze and wheeze

From cough, cold, flu or such disease.

But we don’t, we don’t, we don’t care

Says penguin to the polar bear.

And round and round and round and round

The neck of every tall giraffe

Is wound and wound and wound and wound

An oh-so-lengthy woollen scarf.

And each bird hunching in its nest,

Beak thrust between its wing and chest,

Stays warm by being doubly dressed

In plumage plus a thermal vest.

But we don’t, we don’t, we don’t care

Says penguin to the polar bear.

The stags and stallions and stoats

Start wrapping snakes around their throats,

While gibbons, guppies, geese and goats

Wear gabardines and overcoats,

And all the cats and bats and rats

And fat wombats and tall meerkats

To keep warm leap like acrobats

While wearing socks and gloves and hats.

But we don’t, we don’t, we don’t care

Says penguin to the polar bear.

The snow lies thick on distant hills.

Ice forms on pools and window-sills.

There’s frost on fencing, bars and grills.

Now no ker-chinging fills the tills,

No visitors to pay the bills.

The heat’s turned down. The whole place chills.

No hoots or howls or growls or trills.

A silence falls that saps all wills.

But we don’t, we don’t, we don’t care

Says penguin to the polar bear.


© Nick Toczek

Kaye Umansky


Kaye Umansky

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, NonsenseCounting, 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.


© Kaye Umansky


Cinderella made Short

Cinderella at the ball,
Dancing with the prince.
The prince kept stepping on her toes.
He hasn’t seen her since.


© Kaye Umansky

Philip de Vos


Philip de Vos

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:


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 …

© Philip de Vos (from Day for a Hullabaloo 2018)

Tracie Vaughn


Tracie Vaughn

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:


Butterfly Bush 

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–

no, eleven

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

once more.


© Tracie Vaughn

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater


Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

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:


This can be sung to the tune Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Chris White
Chris White
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
She’ll slurp down her own refreshing milk drink!
And it is so tasty, it restores her powers
So now she’ll go jumping for hours and hours
So, if you’re ever close to a Kangamoo’s tummy
Go on, have a taste, I hear that it’s scrummy!
But good luck if you try to quench your thirst
You got to actually catch her first…
© Chris White
Robert Paul Weston

Robert Paul Weston

Robert Paul Weston is the internationally award-winning author of several books for young readers, including the verse novels Zorgamazoo and Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff. He lives in London. His website is here.

This is one of his wonderful poems:

The Lightning Bird

Have you heard
of the lightning bird
with thunder under in its wings?
Its talons flash
they shimmer, slash
its high, white lightning sings
a song of soaring
tumbling, roaring
a cloud, a flock, a swarm
whose shrieks and flaps
and thunder claps
can drum a summer storm.
© Robert Paul Weston
 Colin West


Colin West

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:

My Vulture

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.

Poem and illustrations © Colin West

Zaro Weil

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 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 Riddellcan be bought here. Zaro’s website is here.

Here is a lovely poem by Zaro:


think of it

the first shudder of damp

somehow signalled

all was ready

then in the deep inside of earth

in the muted underneath of winter

spring began

not with a sudden trumpet of green

or a sky of confetti blossoms

but with a seed

small pale and barely breathing

it lay quietly

waiting for the lavender clouds

that carry the first warm rains

till for some reason as ancient and

everyday as the sun itself

the seed cracked

split and softly burst into

a faint tendril

a root a sprout

a thin wisp of a growing thing

and with no thought of stopping

it pushed through the

dark soil with the force of

a billion winter winds

until it

pierced the crust of the outside and

split the frozen armour of earth

which has held spring safe

since time began

© Zaro Weil

Celia Warren


Celia Warren

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 Poems illustrated 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!

© Celia Warren

Kate Wakeling

Photo Credit: Tom Weller

Kate Wakeling

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:

Little-Known Facts

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.

© Kate Wakeling (From Moon Juice, the Emma Press)

Philip Waddell

Philip Waddell

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.

Here is one of his Christmas poems:

The Visitors

‘You must both be very proud,’

said the first with a smile

weighing up the situation exactly.


‘A bit dribbly, isn’t he?’

observed the second accurately

but with a foolish grin.

‘Coochie, coochie,’ cooed the third playfully,

completely forgetting, as he gazed at the child,

to say anything wise.

© Philip Waddell

X.J. Kennedy


X.J. Kennedy

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?”


© X.J. Kennedy (From Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh, Little, Brown and Company, New York and Boston.
Reprinted by permission of the author.)

Bernard Young


Bernard Young

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

but don’t let that fool you.

My mind is elsewhere.
My thoughts far away.

So apologies, teacher,
I’m not here today.


© Bernard Young

Jane Yolen

© Jason Semple

Jane Yolen

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.

Jane’s website is here.

(I’m very sorry to say I do not have an explanation of how an award resulted in a conflagration of Jane’s good coat, or film of it happening, but somehow I like the fact this is a mystery!)


Here is one of Jane’s wonderful poems:


Fat Is Not A Fairy Tale

I am thinking of a fairy tale,

Cinder Elephant,

Sleeping Tubby,

Snow Weight,

where the princess is not

anorexic, wasp-waisted,

flinging herself down the stairs.

I am thinking of a fairy tale,

Hansel and Great


Bounty and the Beast,

Where the beauty

has a pillowed breast,

and fingers plump as sausage.

I am thinking of a fairy tale

that is not yet written,

for a teller not yet born,

for a listener not yet conceived,

for a world not yet won,

where everything round is good:

the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.


© Jane Yolen (First published in the anthology Such A Pretty Face, ed. by Lee Martindale, Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc.; 1st MM Publishing Ed edition (June 8, 2000.)

Neal Zetter

Neal Zetter

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


© Neal Zetter (From Yuk and Yum, Troika Books, co-authored with Joshua Seigal)

Benjamin Zephaniah


Benjamin Zephaniah

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.




To walk to

To talk to

To cry and rely on,

People will always need people.

To love and to miss

To hug and to kiss,

It’s useful to have other people.

To whom will you moan

If you’re all alone,

It’s so hard to share

When no one is there,

There’s not much to do

When there’s no one but you,

People will always need people.


To please

To tease

To put you at ease,

People will always need people.

To make life appealing

And give life some meaning.

It’s useful to have other people,

If you need a change

To whom will you turn,

If you need a lesson

From whom will you learn,

If you need to play

You’ll know why I say

People will always need people.


As girlfriends

As boyfriends,

From Bombay

To Ostend,

People will always need people.

To have friendly fights with

And share tasty bites with,

It’s useful to have other people,

People live in families

Gangs, posses and packs,

It seems we need company

Before we relax,

So stop making enemies

And let’s face the facts,

People will always need people,


People will always need people.


© Benjamin Zephaniah (This poem is taken from the book Wicked World, published by Puffin Books. Reproduced with the permission of Benjamin Zephaniah.)

Sarah Ziman


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.

Dear Mrs Kent

I fear I must write home to say

the way that Clark behaved today,

fell rather short in most respects

of standards that this school expects.

It pains me to call Clark a cheat,

but when he reads my answer sheet

with X-ray vision, I’m perplexed –

are we quite sure he needs those specs?

And levitating in the hall?

It’s not acceptable. AT ALL.

I quote: ‘You told us not to RUN –

and flying really is more fun’.

But using ‘freeze breath’ on my tea?

Well, THAT was the last straw for me.

It turned to ice, and cracked my cup

and frankly now – I’m quite fed up.

Don’t get me wrong. His future’s bright,

if he could just learn wrong from right.

Might I suggest a sticker chart?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Hart


A note on uniform:

Now that the days are getting warm,

the shorts are fine – but could he stop

the wearing underpants on top?

© Sarah Ziman

You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter