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

Mike Jenkins

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Mike Jenkins

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

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Here is a poem from the above collection:

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My Gran

 

My Gran feeds the cat

on bits of cheese,

on bits of chocolate biscuit

crumbled up ;

the cat isn’t very pleased.

She calls her ‘Pussy Puss’ –

sometimes she calls the cushion

by the same name.

 

My Gran burns kettles,

burns meals-on-wheels,

has been known to burn

a hole in her dress ;

accuses the Home Help

of stealing her handkerchiefs.

Finds hankies and washes them

dirtier than they were before.

 

My Gran falls through the floor

every morning, needs cups of tea

to bring her round to insanity ;

needs glasses of sherry

to help her forget

that she can’t remember.

Phones the butcher

to phone the doctor.

 

Lays tea at five

and supper at nine,

asks her dead husband

the time of year,

the day of time.

Blocks her bedrrom door

with a bulky bureau

which screams every night

like a ghost.

My Gran likes only one

piece of toast

for tea and breakfast.

 

My Gran plays patience

and cheats ,

drinks only one glass

of sherry a day,

yet two bottles in half a week.

Threatens to have me turned out,

to call the police.

 

She’s mad I think,

or the clocks have stopped.

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

 

Jackie Kay

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Jackie Kay

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

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This is her moving poem:

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My Face is a Map

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I was born with a map of Australia on my face;
it was beautiful, my mother told me –
there was nobody like me in the whole wide world
who could trace the edges of down under
on the raised and grafted song line of her face.

I was connected to the upside-down people,
to those who loved the bush and the kangaroo.
I could never smile or frown or weep
in case my special map fell off my face.
My face was pulled tight, so that nobody got lost.

I held my head steady and I held my head high.
When people gaped and gawped and gawked
I thought they were trying to find Alice Springs,
to work out where they wanted to go, where they’d been.
And when somebody stared for a very long time

I would simply ask if they’d been down under:
the hardest human heart melts when it sees a koala bear.
My words were slower than other children’s
because my map was stitched to my mouth:
every time I managed a whole sentence

I imagined a small boat floating out of Sydney harbour.
Yesterday there was talk of peeling my map off,
changing my face, so that it looks like others;
my mother said I should have a long think,
and that maybe life would be easier…

I am thinking now, staring hard into the mirror.
I trace the hard edges of the world in my face.
I know the hard stares of some people.
Without my map, will I be the same person?
Will I know where I am, where I have been?

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

Mike Kavanagh

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Mike Kavanagh

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

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The Scrumbler was a wonderful magazine – I’m hoping for a revival! Here is one of Mike’s poems:

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Potions

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For warm summer weather
mix Dandelion and Heather.

For everlasting sweets
mix Wisteria and beets.

For exploring a forest path
mix bark and rotten leaf.

For days off school, playing in snow
mix Hawthorn and Sloe.

For winter days to pass
mix Night Shade and frosted grass.

To disappear without a trace
mix Old Man’s Beard and Mace.

To get your own room
mix Rose and Lemon Balm.

For late nights, TV, staying up
mix Daffodil and Buttercup.

If you plan to run away
mix sedge and hay.

If you’re ready to come back home
mix Snowdrop and Teasel comb.

To sit and be your very own age
mix Forget-me-nots and Sage.

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© Mike Kavanagh

 

Alan Katz

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Alan Katz

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

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

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Contraction Dissatisfaction

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It wasn’t isn’t.

It isn’t wasn’t.

It can’t be shouldn’t.

It shouldn’t be doesn’t.

It mustn’t be wouldn’t.

It wouldn’t be mustn’t.

It mayn’t be mightn’t.

It mightn’t be mayn’t.

I’m skipping this homework.

To go out and playn’t.

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© Alan Katz

B. J. Lee

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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

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

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© B. J. Lee

J. Patrick Lewis 

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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.

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Here is one of his lovely poems;

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How the Yellow Jacket

Lost her Shyness

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The King of England

Once was stung

Upon his royal bottom,

And you could hear

A yellow jacket

Yell, “Oh, boy, I got ‘im!”

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And that is how

The yellow jacket

Finally lost her shyness,

And how the English

Came to call the King

“His Royal Highness!”

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© J. Patrick Lewis

 

Alistair Lane

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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.

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Here is one of his poems:

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The Snail In My Garden

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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?

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© Alistair Lane

Renée LaTulippe

 

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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.

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Here is one of her poems, a wonderful pantoum:

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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

Laura Mucha

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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.

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This is one of Laura’s great poems:

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DEAR UGLY SISTERS 
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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.
FROM
CINDERELLA
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.© Laura Mucha
Cheryl Moskowitz

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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.

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Here is one of Cheryl’s poems from Can it be About Me?:

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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.
 
FRIENDS
 
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?
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© Cheryl Moskowitz
Brian Moses

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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.

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Brian is a kind and indefatigable supporter of children’s poets and poetry. Here is one of his fab poems:

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All The Things You Can Say to Places in the UK

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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.

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© Brian Moses

Michaela Morgan

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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.

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

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Malala

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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.

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© Michaela Morgan

Trevor Millum

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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.
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Here’s ‘Sunday in the Yarm Fard’ from his book,  A Stegosaurus is for Life and other Animal Poems, illustrated by Elaine Hill.
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Spring in the Yarm Fard

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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.

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© Trevor Millum

Roger McGough

Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS

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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.

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Here is one of his brilliant poems:

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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

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© Roger McGough

 

Kim Norman

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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.

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Here is one of Kim’s Poems:

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Nose to Knows

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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?”

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© Kim Norman

Judith Nicholls

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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!

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Here is a lovely poem by Judith:

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ORANG UTAN

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Watch me,

touch me,

catch-me-if-you-can!

I am

soundless,

swung-from-your-sight,

gone with the wind,

shiver of air,

trick-of-the-light.

 

Watch me,

touch me,

catch-me-if-you-dare!

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,

sky-flier,

man-of-the-woods,

the arm of the law.

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

Kenn Nesbitt

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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.

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Here is one of Kenn’s Funny Poems:

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To B or Not to B

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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.

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© Kenn Nesbitt

 

Eric Ode

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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.

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This is one of Eric’s great poems!

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I BUILT A FORT

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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.

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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.

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© Eric Ode

Sally Odgers

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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.

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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

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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:

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The Shadow Inside Me 

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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

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

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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.

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Here is one of his wonderful poems:

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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

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

 

Trevor Parsons

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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.

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This is one of his witty poems:

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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 may years and now specialises in writing and performing for children. She has three collections, Creatures, Teachers and Family Features, Breaking the Rules, illustrated by Nigel Bainesand My Teacher’s as Wild as a Bison, also illustrated by Nigel Bainesand has poems in over 100 anthologies for young people. She performs and gives workshops art centres, books shops, libraries, theatres and festivals, has worked as a writer and poetry consultant for the BBC, and is one of the writers for the CBeebies TV programme, Poetry Pie. Her website is here.

.

Here is a favourite poem of Coral’s:

.

RIDING A LION

.

I dreamt of riding a lion, a fast one,

A fierce one, with a flash of wildness in his eyes.

I could feel his tented ribs with my clinging knees.

 

I dreamt he leapt and flew, huge wings spreading,

His deep growl rumbling like a well-oiled engine.

My fingers curled into a tangle around his mane.

 

I dreamt he swooped a deep dive, a daring dive,

A dizzy dive, against the roaring wind,

And I didn’t even close my eyes in fear.

 

I dreamt he landed on an island, a golden one,

Where all the lions fly, and children ride

On their warm backs, clutching the edge of danger.

.

© 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:

.

Heathrow

.

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

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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.

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Here is one of her wonderful poems:

.

Who?

.

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.

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Here is a great hippopoem by him:

.

Hippopotamouse

.

Beware the hippopotamouse
Ignore his toothsome grin
If you ever hear him knocking
You must not let him in

He’ll soon invite all of his friends –
They’ll be there in a trice
And no-one wants a house that’s full
Of hippopotamice

They’ll seize your cheese, they’ll gnaw your floor
They’ll make a dreadful fuss;
Worse than this, the holes they make are
Hippopot-anormous

.

© John 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.

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Here is one of John’s lovely poems:

.

Dazzledance

 

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.

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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.

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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, DANCING IS JOY

 

All over the world,

dancing

is

joy.

Move your feet.

Spin.

Sway.

Just

feel the beat,

the rhythm.

Find

a partner.

Grab

your shoes.

All you can lose are

the blues.

Dance, dance away.

Now’s your chance!

What do you say?

 

JOY IS DANCING ALL OVER THE WORLD

 

What do you say?

Now’s your chance.

Dance, dance away

the blues.

All you can lose are

your shoes.

Grab

a partner.

Find

the rhythm.

Feel the beat.

Just

sway,

spin,

move your feet.

Joy

Is

dancing

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.

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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.

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Here is one of her lovely poems:

 

LETTER TO MY UNCLE

 

  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,

 

 

G

 

© 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!)

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Here is one of his great poems:

.

WINTER AT THE ZOO

 

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:

OF OTHER LANDS AND OTHER CHILDREN

Children of another land
are sometimes hard to understand.
When the sunlight floods my room,
other children watch the moon.
When I’m good, then they are bad.
When I’m happy, they are sad.
Other children, other faces,
other words and other places:
Baba Yaga, marabou,
Lorelei and cockatoo,
Yokohama, Gazankulu,
Mali, Bali, Honolulu.
Children of another land
are sometimes hard to understand …

.
© 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.

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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

 

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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.

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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:

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

Chris White
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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.
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 Here is one of his fun poems:
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KANGAMOO
 
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…
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© 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.
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© Robert Paul Weston
 Colin West

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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

 

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

 

NewYearSP_3_

 

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:

 

Flexi-Worms

Twenty soily centimetres underneath the ground
flexi-worms are exercising, writhing round and round,
strengthening their muscles in gymnastic pursuits
as they wiggle-weave and zig-zag in between the roots.

Tiptoe on the grass now – don’t make a sound;
mustn’t wake the worms up deep underground:
worn out with workouts they’re curling up to sleep
thirty dirty centimetres underneath our feet!
Sssshhhhh!

 

© 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.

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‘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

 

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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.

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Here is one of his wonderful poems:

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“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?”

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© 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

 

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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:

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Absent

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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.

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© 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!)

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Here is one of Jane’s wonderful poems:

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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

Repoundsel,

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.

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© 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.

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This is one of Neal’s funny poems;

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It’s Got to Be a Pea

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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

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

 

 

Benjamin Zephaniah

 

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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.

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PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE

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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.

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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.

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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,

Yes

People will always need people.

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

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