On the theme of change for National Poetry Day, here is Pheoebe Gigg performing Roger Stevens’ poem, Sadness.
Forward Arts Foundation provide EXCELLENT free resources for teachers for National Poetry Day – I can’t emphasise enough how fan-dabby-dozy-BRILLIANT they are. All you have to do is download them from here. What are you waiting for?
Well, this poem is about change all right. BIG change. Thanks to wonderful puppeteer and poet, Eric Ode.
This was recorded for National Poetry Day 2015, and fits the theme ‘Change’ brilliantly. Here is one of the Twilight keepers reading Matt Goodfellow’s Poem, I wasn’t Me Tonight.
There’s something in this anthology collected by Joshua Seigal to tickle all funnybones – young or old!
Joshua Seigal is an award-winning poet, performer and educator who uses poetry to develop literacy skills and inspire confidence and creativity in communication.
My favourite poem was my dog, Lola’s, favourite poem. Joshua once wrote a great poem for Lola. She is one of his fans.
I’ve got a new DogMatic
she’s my automatic pet.
Of all the beasts I’ve ever bought
she is the best one yet.
She likes to play outside with me
but sometimes she gets wet,
and then she blows her circuitry
and ends up at the vet.
I’ve got a new DogMatic,
she’s my high-perfomance mate.
Of all the cronies I could own
it’s her I really rate.
I simply click a button
and she starts to calculate
the distance to the park, in metres,
from our garden gate.
I’ve got a new DogMatic –
she’s my electronic chum.
She’s smarter than my sister,
more efficient than my mum.
She has a byte at dinner time
and then, when she is done,
a tiny little microchip
comes plopping out her bum…
© Joshua Seigal
You can buy I Bet I Can Make you Laugh, humorously illustrated by Tim Wesson, here.
I first met Eric Ode (pronounced ‘Odee’) in poetic circles on Facebook, and very soon fell for his warm, droll and upbeat personality. Eric is not only an educator and well-published poet performer, he writes his own songs and performs with his guitar. I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Eric this May, where I had a chance to get to know him and his lovely wife Kim when we got together with a group of children’s poets and did a performance. It was hilarious and at some point I will post one of Eric’s songs from that recording. Here is a link to one of Eric’s lovely books, Sea Star Wishes, and his website. Below, Eric expounds on ¿Que Es La Palabra?
¿Que Es La Palabra? (Or “Why Writing Poetry is Like Spending Three Weeks Learning Spanish in Guatemala)
Okay, that was hard. I’ve just wrapped up my first full week of Spanish classes at a cooperative school here in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala. My first visit to this wonderful country. Five days a week of one-on-one instruction, five hours each day. I’m still too overwhelmed to create poetry here. Frustrating. I’m surrounded by amazing sights and sounds and people that should inspire BRILLIANT poetry! But maybe I can concentrate enough to create a short list – some commonalities between learning a new language and writing poetry. So here we go!
FINDING THE RIGHT WORDS CAN BE… DIFFICULT? CHALLENGING? ARDUOUS?
Of course with a new language, we can fumble around with vocabulary we do know, and, with the help of our pocket dictionary and some frantic hand motions, we’ll get by. But with poetry, there’s no alternative to knowing precisely the right words. It is poetry, after all!
BELIEVE THERE’S A DESTINATION
People ask me why I’m studying Spanish. Truthfully I don’t know. I have no end goal. But I do believe that when we open ourselves to opportunities, opportunities reveal themselves – opportunities we could not have foreseen. So in the end, these studies will lead to something wonderful. I’m sure of it! Likewise with poetry, we might approach the blank page with little idea of what will come of our efforts. But, poco a poco, the poem will reveal itself, again often arriving as nothing we could have imagined.
TAKE TWO STEPS FORWARD…
It’s never just forward momentum. Language learning? We can expect that, by the next morning, we’ll have forgotten much of what we were so certain we’d learned. And with poetry? We’re frequently tearing apart what we had already so carefully built. Of course the beautiful thing with poetry is that we’ll be rebuilding into something even better – something closer to the ideal poems we have in our dreams. Which leads us to…
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
It’s Guatemalan Independence Day today. I was trying to tell my host mother how much I enjoyed “la parada” this morning. Wait. Parada is “stop,” NOT “parade.” Sigh. But I digress! The parade? I had no idea. I was enjoying a coffee in a small café when the school marching bands began their enthusiastic procession down the narrow cobblestone street. I stood in the doorway with the café’s waitress, and we watched and listened and talked about the schools and the children. Absolutely a treat! Writing poetry is often like that. We’re scribbling away, when suddenly wonderful, unexpected metaphors and images parade right in front of us.
A poem on the subject of ‘Change’ in the run-up to National Poetry Day, October 4th. This poem appears in my book Animal Magic, pub. IRON Press.
Forward Arts Foundation, National Poetry Day
The Forward Arts Foundation is a charity committed to widening poetry’s audience, honouring achievement and supporting talent.
National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in. National Poetry Day will take place on Thursday 4th October 2018 and this year’s theme is “Change”.
Go to the NPD website to get details of how to join in, posters, bookmarks, and if you’re celebrating in school, take a look at their Toolkit for Schools for inspiration.
Make sure you use #NationalPoetryDay on Twitter and Websites!
National Poetry Day Ambassadors are a crack corps of inspiring poets who take poetry to new and young audiences – in schools, in bookshops, in libraries, in public squares – all year round.
Each one of them has contributed a new poem on the 2018 theme of Change, and chosen a poem to accompany it, for a special National Poetry Day collection published by Otter-Barry books. It’s a beautiful thing. You can buy it here.
If you want to find this information again, it is under Poetry Resources in the menu at the top and top of the side of this site.
As a child, James Carter had a very bad stutter, and flatly refused to take part in any school play because of it. He spoke very rarely in class. Nowadays he says he is a right chatterbox as he’s most passionate about what he does. He is a very experienced poet and excellent performer in schools (I know, I’ve seen him!) and uses his musical friends, Keith, his old acoustic guitar, and Steve, his melodica, to help engage the children. Here he explains the differences in his performances for Key Stage 1 and 2, and whether he is in fact a poet, musician, or comedian…
Are you a Poet or a Guitarist or a Comedian?
I get asked this question a lot. By children. At the end of my assemblies. This is the answer I’d give if there was time…
I’ve now been writing for over twenty years now. Writing books that is. I’ve written quite a few poetry books, a handful of teachers’ creative writing manuals and now a series of verse non-fiction books with the brilliant Little Tiger Press. To be honest, I see myself as a non-fiction writer that happens to write in verse rather than prose. But actually, I’ve been writing things on and off since childhood.
I’ve been a roving poet in Primary and Prep schools all over the UK and abroad for the last 16 years. I must have visited over 1100 schools by now. I absolutely love my job. I love working with innovative, dynamic and responsive teachers and of course children – I so enjoy their vitality, their fresh, wide-eyed sense of wonder and lack of inhibition when it comes to creativity.
I write instrumental music pieces for guitar or piano – and I play these in assemblies or on the CDs I have recorded in the studio. Music I find is a great stimulant for creative writing. Children in the main respond to it very well. It takes the mind out of the here and now, gives you rich mental imagery, and allows you to really take risks with your writing.
And humour? Though I don’t want to stand at the front of the hall just delivering ‘funny’ poems, I try and use a lot of humour. Anarchic, zany humour. Pythonesque as one Headteacher said. It’s essential the children warm to me quickly as I want them to respond to me in the workshop when we get writing. Plus, I relish the creative challenge of finding something amusing to say in any given moment during the day.
With KS1 I only ever do light-hearted material, and all interactive. I will start with a guitar piece and do all kinds of poems about bugs, aliens, funny faces, pirates, travelling the world. All the poems have actions which I teach the children through call and response. Then I do a bunch of animal riddle poems. To finish, I’ll do two more action rhymes, and then I play the melodica – maybe some jazzy stuff or Lady Gaga – and the children might have a boogie for a minute or so.
Schools often ask me to do whole school assemblies. I ALWAYS refuse. How on earth can you deliver age-appropriate material to rising 5s up to rising 11s? If time, I will do three assemblies – one for KS2 in the hall, one for KS1 in the hall, and another shorter one for Reception (sometimes Nursery come along too) in their classroom as they respond much better on the carpet, in an environment they are fully familiar with.
My delivery with KS2 is that of a zany, eccentric professor. With Early Years and KS1 I become a chirpy, avuncular figure. With Infants, I do call and response with every single poem as it keeps them with me. I have a very short attention span myself so I know that I need to keep them on track. I also do actions throughout most of my poems. This again keeps them engaged. One of many reasons I keep Infants and Juniors apart is that if you do anything slightly quirky with Infants, they get excited and giggly very quickly and it’s hard to bring them down again – and this can be annoying for the older children.
I write because I love words, love the whole process of writing individual poems as well as putting a poetry or non-fiction book together. I want children to love writing too – and to really enjoy and explore their creativities, and to want to pick up a pen/pencil and see where it will take them. I can’t go in cold into a workshop in a classroom and start writing on the board, as the children need firing up.
At KS2 in particular – especially Yrs 4 5 6 I want the children to write something incredible, something that will delight and surprise the children themselves as well as the teachers. This means they have to like and trust me. This is where the assembly comes in. After half an hour or so of poems and music (and hopefully having been inspired by that!) in the hall – they will then want to go on and do their writing. Poetry is all about finding new ways to explore and express the world around us, and that’s hard work and takes time.
Children always rise to the occasion. I love it when a child comes up to me and says either ‘Wow! I wrote this!’ or ‘Great, we haven’t done anyway work today’ – as it hasn’t felt like work, even though creative writing is very demanding. One of my favourite ever Finales in a school was in a Boy’s Prep school (though my favourite schools tend to be inner city, multicultural state school, obvs) – in which every member of staff – teachers/Totally Awesomes – were in tears as the boys wrote the most wonderful poems.
That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
As part of National Poetry Day 21015, we made 14 poetry on 2015s theme of ‘Light’. This poem by Pie Corbett, read during one day on the streets of Bristol, also fits 2018s theme – ‘Change’.
National Poetry Day this year is on 4th October.
A new UK-wide award has been set up for teachers to vote for literally any children’s books – but among the categories is POETRY, hooray!
Teachers will be able to vote until the end of 2018 for any book published in this year. They will collect all the nominations from across the country at the end of the year. January will see the shortlist of winners released and the final voting process will begin.
TEACHERS! PLEASE send in a vote for your favourite poetry books 2018 as soon as possible!
The Teachers’ Book Awards website is here with all the details.
Here is the Twitter address. Twitter handle is @book_awards
There has been some excellent children’s poetry published this year – to remind you, here are as many of the UK children’s poetry books published this year as I can find:
UPDATE! Voting isn’t open yet but will be soon!
This award is voted for by teachers who use poetry in the classrooms, so it is thrilling to even be nominated.
Here are this years shortlisted books in the poetry category:
#NSTBAs team go all out; the longlist reviews all the books (poetry and fiction and non-fiction) in wonderful detail, and the shortlisted books are all pictured with fabulously cute dogs, making the whole process very, very special.
The organisation involved in getting Lady and Mungo dressed in the correctly coloured bows to set off each book alone must be epic!
Here’s each book in detail:
I’m thrilled to be involved in this shortlisting with lovely Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. The work involved in writing and shaping all these poems into the animals they are about took months and months of back-breaking work, and it’s wonderful to have it recognised! This book was published by Bloomsbury, who have made a beautiful hardback book on quality paper with two colour printing to properly show off the loveliness inside! Artwork by Lorna Scobie.
Matt Goodfellow‘s first entry on the shortlist is his wonderful single voice book, Chicken on the Roof. Matt has a sensitive and lyrical way with words, and Otter-Barry, the publisher, always do a fine job with quality paper and excellent illustrations, in this case by Hannah Asen.
Zaro Weil’s fabulous Firecrackers is an amazing bumper book of poems, wordplay and stories with gorgeous illustrations by Jo Riddell. It is published by Troika in association with ZaZa Books in an eye-catchingly large format hardback.
And lastly – I’m over the moon to be shortlisted again for this award with The Same Inside, with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, both also shortlisted twice. The Same Inside is a book of poems all about empathy, tolerance, kindness, and love; there are poems in here to spark conversations and opinions about many sensitive subjects that are or could be worrying our young people today. It was hard to write! But a subject dear to our hearts. The publisher is the long-time stalwart of children’s poetry, Macmillan, with a wonderful cover by Debbie Powell.
The winner is announced on November 10th at the award ceremony.
There’s only a week left to do so!
Timothy Corsellis was a young poet and pilot killed in 1941. The Prize was set up in his name, with the support of his family, to encourage more people to read the powerful but lesser-known poets of the Second World War.
Choose one or more poet/s and write a poem in response to their life and/or poetry. It can be anything about their life or work, whatever inspires you.
The deadline for entries is Sunday 16 September 2018.
All the details are here.