Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Philip Gross: Favourite Poetry Books

Number 11 in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is award winning poet, Philip Gross. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. The first book I read of Philip’s was Manifold Manor and I became an instant fan. 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. Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, was the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. His new book, Dark Sky Park, Poems from the Edge of Nature illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry) is available here, and was also shortlisted for a CLiPPA  2019. His website is here.

This selection comes from the particular angle that is me. I guess everything here is a crossing point on the (supposed) border between children’s and adult poetry.

Charles Causley, Figgie Hobbin (1970)

This was the book that made it possible for me to write poetry for young people. Causley was a poet who wrote adult poems that could be intriguing to young people in the way that folk tales are… and, in this book, children’s poems that make adults stop and think –  deceptively easy to read, with a strangeness that lasts. 

T.S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939)

I’m not worried that much of the world these poems have such fun with is far away back in another century. Even writing from ten years ago is ancient history when you’re nine years old. What matters is the irresistible larkiness of the language, that makes yoy feel part of its world by sheer rhythms and richness of words. 

Helen Dunmore, Secrets (1994)

Such is the sadly late Helen Dunmore’s reputation as a novelist for adults and children, and as an adult poet, that it’s easy to overlook this slim, superb and subtle contribution to children’s poetry. It seems even more valuable now in this extraverted age as a reminder that young people have a right to rich interior lives.

Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, The Rattle Bag (1982)

The radical thing about this anthology, compiled by two great poets, was that it has no apparent order, no mission to instruct us or promote a particular style. They simply chose their favourite poems, mixed them up together and opened the doors to people of all ages, saying, Poetry is all of this, and more. Welcome in. 

Philip Gross, Manifold Manor (1989)

Some books come as a surprise even to their own writer, with the feeling that they’ve stumbled into an unsuspected small world and are simply discovering it. This was one of those. Incidentally it is a set of writing prompts and models, an invitation to join in, and a celebration of how our imaginations are haunted by real history. 

Charles Ghigna’s Dear Poet

Dear Poet, Notes to a Young Writer by Charles Ghigna – a Poetic Journey into the Creative Process for Readers, Writers, Artists & Dreamers popped through my letterbox just before National Poetry Day/Week.

The book takes the form of short numbered poems on all aspects of writing poetry – set out on a double page spread, the left-hand side the number title, the right-hand side, the poem. I love the feeling of light and space this gives for each poem to breathe inside your head. Here is one of my favourites:

 

1V

 

When in need

of the poem,

go write it.

 

But do not think

you are

needed.

 

There is no

need

for the poet.

 

There is only

need

for the poem.

 

© Charles Ghigna

 

I love this. The poet as an observer, recorder, describer. What you feel, see, understand, remember will be personal to you, the reader. There are many such observations throughout the book, the sum of a life well-lived in poetry. Recommended!

More information can be read in the spotlight on Charles Ghigna, here. His website is here.

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Matt Goodfellow: My Favourite Poetry Books

Tenth in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is Matt Goodfellow. One of my favourite writing companions, Matt and I have written two books together, with Roger Stevens. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. Matt is a poet and National Poetry Day Ambassador. His most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), and Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with me and Roger Stevens. His solo collection is Chicken on the Roof  illustrated by Hanna Asen (Otter Barry 2018). He visits schools, libraries and festivals to deliver high-energy, fun-filled poetry performances and workshops. Matt’s website is here.

Some of Matt’s Favourite Children’s Poetry Books:

Wallpapering the Cat by Jan Dean (Macmillan). Jan is a stupendously brilliant writer, up there with the very, very best. Funny, clever, thoughtful, playful, weird and honest, this is a collection that showcases her poetic talents. Seek it out – and anything else she has ever written.

Evidence of Elephants by Gerard Benson (Viking). This book contains one of my all-time favourite poems, ‘River Song’ – you can find footage of Gerard reading it aloud in his fabulous voice here. By all accounts a brilliant story-teller, actor and all-round good egg, as well as poet, it is a big sadness of mine that I’ll never get to meet the great man.

Snollygoster and other poems by Helen Dunmore (Scholastic). Helen Dunmore’s death was a huge loss for poetry. I first started reading her poems when I was just starting to dabble with writing my own – and this book was one I read over and over again. She was a beautifully gifted writer.

I Had a Little Cat by Charles Causley (Macmillan). Causley wrote so many brilliant poems over the course of his career and this book has got them all! Not really much more to say other than if you are interested in poetry for children, this is one of the important foundation stones you must have in your collection.

If You Could See Laughter (Salt). I love this book. Mandy has such an interestingly elegant way with words and a unique viewpoint on the world. It was immediately clear to me when I first read this book that here was somebody with a special talent. Having met her quite a few times, I can also confirm she is as splendid a person as she is a writer!

Plum by Tony Mitton (Barn Owl Books). To put it simply, I think Tony Mitton is a genius. I recommend you read anything that has his name on it!

Black Country by Liz Berry (Chatto & Windus). This book, written for adults, was recommended to me by my good friend, poet Dom Conlon. Dom has excellent taste and the second I dipped my toe into this rich collection I knew I was going to love it.

Chicken on the Roof by Matt Goodfellow (Otter Barry). I s’pose I better also recommend one by me! This is my most recent solo collection. I hope on reading it you’d find simplicity, depth, sadness, silliness, laughter, warmth and love. Lofty ambitions, eh?

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Truth Poem by Zaro Weil

Zaro Weil lives in an old farm on a little hill in southern France, and her poetry for children has appeared in many anthologies. She has written several books including a book of children’s poetry. Her book Firecrackers, Troika, illustrated by Jo Riddellcan be bought here, and her book, Cherry Moon is available here! Zaro’s website is here.

 

Unicorn

 

Unicorn

don’t go

let me ask you

how long you’ve been here

 

please

no lies

 

© Zaro Weil

Thank you, Zaro, for this lovely poem!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week, Climate Truth Poem from 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.

Environmentally Friendly Haiku

To save energy

Not to mention trees and ink

I’ll stop writing now

 

© Andrea Shavick

 

Thank you for this fun climate truth haiku, Andrea!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week – Truth Poem from Julie Anna Douglas

Julie started writing poetry four years ago and she just can’t stop! Her poems have appeared in magazines like SpiderEmber Journal and The Caterpillar and Watcher of the Skies, an anthology of space poetry by The Emma Press.

.

What is Truth?

Truth is the mountains, the sea and the sky.

Truth is the answer when children ask ‘Why?’

Truth is the moment remembered for years.

Truth is the word which can stop or start tears.

Truth is the friendship where time always flies.

Truth is the photograph which never lies.

Truth is the thought that can cut through our fear.

Truth is not always what we want to hear.

.

© Julie Anna Douglas

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Lie Poem by 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. He 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.

 

Lying Around

 

Lying on the beach

lying in the sun

lying on a lounger

lying having fun.

Lying by the water’s edge

lying in the foam

couldn’t go to school that day

lying ill at home.

 

Lying in department stores

lying, she was caught

lying in a cell before

lying in the court.

Lying to the magistrate

she was nowhere near the crime

lying she was on the beach

lying all the time.

 

© Trevor Parsons

Thank you for this excellent poem, Trevor!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Truth Poem by Michaela Morgan – Blake’s Tyger Revisited

Michaela Morgan has had over 140 titles published including poetry, picture books, junior novels and non-fiction. She is a regular visitor to schools. 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 won the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award 2017.  Her book How To Teach Poetry: Writing Workshops, stresses the importance of poetry across the curriculum.

Here she is with her poem Blake’s Tyger – Revisited.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Truth Poem by 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 he is with his poem ‘Absent’ in a field somewhere deep in Somerset.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Lie Poem by 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. One of his Troika books for 6-13 year olds includes Yuck & Yum (A Feast of Funny Food Poems) illustrated by Scoular Anderson, with poet Joshua Seigal. More information is here. Neal’s Twitter page is here, and Neal’s Amazon Author page is here.

 

The Dog Ate My Homework

The dog ate my homework Miss
At breakfast time today
I managed to complete it first
I’m sure I got top grade
He suddenly felt peckish
In one gulp wolfed it down
I can’t hand in my homework
‘Cause I have a hungry hound

The dog ate my homework Miss
He shredded it to bits
Then munched it, crunched it, lunched it
Sent it to the dark abyss
It’s stuck inside his stomach
It nestles in his guts
I can’t hand in my homework
‘Cause my mutt has scoffed it up

The dog ate my homework Miss
I hate to break bad news
Preferred it to his dinner
And his biscuits, treats and chews
I’m begging you believe me
I’m telling you the truth
I can’t hand in my homework
‘Cause my pet’s a piggish pooch

The dog ate my homework Miss
It’s never coming back
My literacy, French, science
Art, geography and maths
He certainly is sorry
I hope you’re fine with that
But think I’d better warn you…
I also own a greedy cat

 

© Neal Zetter

Thanks for this funny poem, Neal!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day Lie Poem by Gerard Benson

Gerard Benson was one very beloved poet and was also a lovely friend to have. He was an actor, poet, raconteur, book reviewer, editor and co-founder of the ‘Poems on the Undergound’ project, former Barrow poet, former teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Sadly he died in 2014, and is much missed.

He was an immensely talented poet – and any poem read in his wonderfully resonant tones was a joy to listen to. Here is one of his poems read by Hannah Evans.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week! Truth Poem by Jackie Hosking

Jackie Hosking’s 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.

Weather or not…

The polar caps are melting and the plastic‘s run amok
Our oceans all are drowning in a sea of human muck
There’s just no use denying that our planet’s slowing dying
And we need to change before we’re out of luck.

 

© Jackie Hosking

 

Thank you Jackie for this great poem all the way from the other side of the world!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week – The Duck by Eric Ode

This Friday in National poetry week, here is Eric Ode (pronounced Oh-dee), 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.  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 Eric in a video telling the truth about ducks.