Posted in Poetry News

Gorilla for #EmpathyDay!

Today is #EmpathyDay2020! And so all day there will be posts about Empathy and love. This is an old post from my personal website, .  (Poetry Roundabout is for ALL poets and poetry!).

Gorilla N'Gayla twins Sabine Bresser

The image above was not taken in the wild, it is taken at Bergen Zoo by Sabine Bresser, of N’Gayla, a gorilla who unexpectedly gave birth to twins, one boy, one girl, a very rare event for gorillas.

I chose it because of her incredibly proud and loving smile. She is, reportedly, a happy character.

Gorillas are among my favourite creatures.

To see how gentle they are, watch this short film of a chance encounter two men had with a wild gorilla family in Uganda.


 It says it all, really, doesn’t it?

They are immensely strong but rarely use that strength to do harm.

They live in balance with nature, mainly on flowers and leaves.

They are very endangered.

Here are two quotes by Dian Fossey, from “Gorillas in the Mist”, published in 2000 by Mariner Books.

“The more you learn about the dignity of the gorilla, the more you want to avoid people”.

“When you realise the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future”.

All life is bound together in one huge link of dependency.

Our food, our water, our shelter, and our lives in every country are bound up in cycles, and one link that leaves a chain can have catastrophic effects on the creatures and plants above and below it.

We should be looking to every loss, every creature or plant in trouble, to see how to help them.

We are stripping the planet. We are destroying the very air that sustains us, and the water we drink.

We do not have the knowledge of contact with the earth any more that gives us the careful path to tread in between taking enough and leaving enough, for others, and for the continuance of our species.

Things that the gorilla knows.

We need to take a step back out of our lives and think about what is really important before it is too late.

Where is it all going to end?


Gorilla (for Julia Green)


A gorilla has massive muscles,

and is ominously dark,

can uproot banana trees

and strip the bark,

but his character is subtle,

sensitive and calm,

his power used for warning,

and rarely to harm,

for his colour has been made

from the shadows in the breeze,

his nature from the sunshine

and his food of flowers and leaves.


© Liz Brownlee


If you value gorillas, you may want to help here: WWF.

.Photo © Sabine Bresser

Information from WWF.

Posted in Poetry News

Alliterative Sea Poems, and Jellyfish Craft Project

Today I’m writing an alliterative poem about a jellyfish! Later I will show you how to make a jellyfish to display your own poem  – which doesn’t have to be about a jellyfish, it can be about any undersea creature.

What is alliteration? Alliteration happens when words in the same sentence have the same first letter sound. Sometimes letters within the words have the same sound which doubles up the effect.

I find fine falafels fabulous. Big bangs bring down bombed buildings. I like licking lemon and lime lollies.

Alliteration is often used in poetry, sometimes to suggest an action or sound that helps with the images. It can be used to help with a rhythm, or draw attention to a word or idea.

I have used a little alliteration in the following poem to suggest and establish the rhythm of the sea:


Leafy Sea Dragon


Where meadows of

green sea grass grows,

among the waving

seaweed groves,

the leafy dragon

comes and goes,


attired in leaves

of seaweed green,

among the weeds

he’s barely seen,

entwined and wreathed

with seas between,


and as the dragon

drifts and weaves,

the rhythms

of the sea he breathes,

and none see when

he comes or leaves.


© Liz Brownlee


So – now to write your poem! Every line does not need to have alliteration in it – and you do not need to have every word alliterating. Neither do you need to use rhyme – it is better to use the best words you can, and having to make a rhyme fit can make what you are saying sound awkward or forced if you are not used to doing it.

Read a bit about your animal so you have some ideas of what to write. Look at images of it.

Lines 1 and 2: Start off your poem naming your animal, saying where it lives. I have chosen a jellyfish because that is the craft I will be doing later, but the jellyfish model can have any poem about any undersea creature attached to it. Perhaps you’d prefer an octopus – and you could make an octopus as easily as a jellyfish – or maybe a dolphin, whale, or other type of fish? These are my first two lines:

Jewelled jellyfish jiving

in the deep, dark waves

You do not need to have all the words alliterative – I could have used the same sound in both lines, but I have used a different sound in line 2. If saying something about your animal sounds better with fewer alliterative words, use the most poetic version!

Line 3 and 4: Tell the reader something else about your creature. This could be what it eats, what it enjoys doing, whether it is active at night or day, or how it is feeling. These are my second two lines:

bobbing in the blueness

all its nights and days

Lines 5 and 6: Use a simile to compare the creature’s habitat or movement to say it is like something else or use a metaphor to say it is something else. If you have chosen a dolphin for example, you might want to say it splashes LIKE a stone skipping water, or it IS a stone skipping splashes through the water. Can you hear the difference between those two descriptions? I think the second metaphor description sounds better. That’s because the rhythm in it suggests the sound of the dolphin jumping through the water. These are my third two lines: 

waving winding tentacles

beneath its water sky

Lines 7 and 8: Using another simile or metaphor, describe your creature’s movement if you haven’t before, or its appearance – using the dolphin example, you might say its skin is like the sun and sea-smoothed sand or is sea and sun-smoothed sand. In this case, I think the simile description sounds better, as it has the better rhythm and sounds more believable. These are my last two lines:

muscles move its bell top

like a lilting lullaby.


That’s the end of your poem!


Here is my whole poem:




Jewelled jellyfish jiving


in the deep, dark waves


bobbing in the blueness


all its nights and days


waving winding tentacles


beneath its water sky


muscles move its bell top


like a lilting lullaby


Next- you can make a jellyfish to display your sea poem. Read all the instructions so you can see how it is made all the way though first – then you will know why you are doing each stage and be able to work out how long to make strings etc.


You will need:

Yogurt pots (clean!)

Buttons or cardboard circles

Scissors, thick needle

Thread, wool, ribbon or parcel ribbon


First of all, choose your yogurt pot. I had two types – and chose the rounder version because it would look more like a jellyfish.

Then you will need a button with large holes – I chose the pink one because it had slits – if you do not have any buttons like this, then cut out a disk of thick cardboard, about an inch in diameter. It does not need to be that large, but larger is easier to cut out!

Next you need to cut lengths of something to make the tentacles of your jelly fish. This could be wool, or string, or thin ribbon… I am using thin, shiny curling ribbon which you can curl using your thumbnail pressed against it along it’s length – there are many videos on the internet showing you how to do this.

If you are making an octopus, you can cut wider pieces of thick paper and curl them to make the octopus tentacles.

When you have cut and made 8 tentacles, thread them through the holes in the button and sellotape them together and then to the top of the button. If it is not possible to thread them through, then sellotape each one to the top of the button. If you have made a cardboard disc, then you can either make a slit in it or you can sellotape each tentacle to the top.

If you are making octopus tentacles, the tentacles need to be sellotaped , equally distanced, around the rim of the yogurt pot.

(I do wish I hadn’t been gardening just before this art challenge, then my nails wouldn’t be all broken and ragged!)

Next you need to thread some ribbon, thin string, wool or embroidery cotton through a large needle with a big eye, and knot it at the end.

Put the end of the ribbon through the loop several times so the knot is big enough not to go all the way through the yogurt pot.

This string will hang your jelly fish from wherever you want to put it, so it needs to be fairly long.

Then push your needle up through one of the holes in the button or cardboard disc from underside to top side. If you holes are quite big you can put a piece of tape on the underside of the button or disc to stop the ribbon or string knot going straight through.

Then pull the ribbon through until the knot catches on the underside.

Then thread the needle through the middle of the underside of the yogurt pot. Pull until the button or disc rests against the bottom of the pot.

It should look like this:

I chose to leave my pot undecorated or painted because I think it looks more like a see-through jellyfish. But you can paint it with poster paint at this stage if you like. Or you can stick pieces of paper onto it in a collage of different colours.

Next you need to write out your poem neatly on a piece of stiff A6 paper – a quarter of the size of A4 paper. Do this in pencil first so you can fill the paper and make sure your words are not squashed.

Rub out the pencil before doing the next stage! (I didn’t!) Push the needle with the ribbon through the poem at the bottom middle, front to back. Pull the ribbon through but leave some ribbon space between the top of the jellyfish model and the bottom of the poem.

Then bring the needle it out again at the top, back to front.

That’s it! You are ready to hang your alliterative sea poem!

Hope you enjoyed making this poem! You can write a jellyfish poem using any of the poem prompts from any of the crafts I’ve done over the past weeks.

The next craft poetry challenge will be written by the wonderful Sue Hardy-Dawson!

Posted in Poetry News

Funny Poem a Day – Rabbit, by Liz Brownlee

A poem and drawing (bit rough!) by me today – I wrote this for one of the classes in the school for which I am a Reading Patron.




This rabbit has ears

very long, times two,

and eyes, very large

with an all-round view,

a snitch with a twitch and a chew.


He moves with a hop

and a lope and a leap.

and a thump of his

very large lollopy feet,

to seek treats for his big teeth to eat.


And if you should give

him a startle or scare,

where he was he won’t be

for he’s no longer there,

in a dash and a flash of white tail in the air.


© Liz Brownlee



What’s the difference between a  bunny who runs marathons and a bunny who is a clown?

¡ʎuunɟ ʇᴉq ɐ sᴉ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɥʇ puɐ ʎuunq ʇᴉɟ ɐ sᴉ ǝuO


And here’ s a picture of Lola leaping like a bunny!

Posted in Poetry News

National Poetry Day Truth Poem by Sue Hardy-Dawson

Sue Hardy-Dawson (besides being a lovely, lovely person and my dear friend), is a Yorkshire born poet, artist, and illustrator, and is widely published in children’s poetry anthologies. She enjoys visiting schools and has provided workshops for the Prince of Wales Foundation for Children and the Arts. Being dyslexic she takes a special interest in encouraging reluctant readers and writers. Her first solo collection, of illustrated poems, Where Zebras Go (Otter-Barry Books) was long-listed for the North Somerset Teachers’ 2017 Book Award and shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2018. Sue has a new collection of shape poems, Apes to Zebras (Bloomsbury) with Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee, and her second solo collection If I Were Other than Myself (Troika) is due out soon!

The Listening


Somewhere inside rock, tree and root

Earth knows the truth about everything

her own truth

of scents, still sounds

where mole and eagle go

one brushing darkness, the other a sky mouth


her words are water and wind,

creeping frosts, a cool dawn trickling

over mountains

she may shout storms

out at sea breaking coasts

or simmer with sulking fogs choking lanes


but her bones are molten

and her flesh loam, just as her words

are glass runes

on rainbows. She

speaks her truths to the sun

and moon: if you put your ear against soil and stone


you can listen to her     warm   heart       beating

hear the sound of our   Earth   Mother   weeping


© Sue Hardy-Dawson


Thanks, Sue, for this wonderful poem.


Posted in Poetry News

Children’s Poetry Summit Launches Blog for Children’s Poetry Professionals

The Children’s Poetry Summit is a UK network of individuals and organisations actively interested in poetry for children. It provides a regular forum for discussion, information exchange, and sharing of ideas, and a pressure group which campaigns for children’s poetry. Members are children’s poets, publishers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, organisations and individuals interested in children’s poetry. It was founded by Chris Holifield, who was Poetry Book Society director, and is now director of the T S Eliot Prize, and Gaby Morgan, children’s editor and children’s poetry editor at Macmillan.

They meet a few times a year in London (I am a member), and exchange information and ideas about raising the profile of children’s poetry, creating opportunities on behalf of poetry for children through publishing, bookselling, schools etc.; and of course also support and promote the writing of poetry for children.

They have a new website where you will find fascinating blogs over the year, every Thursday- not just the poets, but publishers, librarians, Forward Arts (who organise National Poetry Day), and every conceivable organisation that helps promote poetry for children, that is also represented on the Summit. Occasionally there will also be guest blogs.

Why not have a look? At the moment there are blogs by Michael Rosen, Cheryl Moskowitz, Brian Moses, Roger Stevens, Laura Mucha, Teresa Cremin, Rachel Rooney, and this weeks blog by Janetta Otter-Barry (links are to blogs, performances or entries on the A-Z of Children’s Poets on this blog).

So – if you don’t follow Poetry Roundabout, please do so if you are interested in everything Children’s Poetry related, and whether you are an adult writer of poetry for children, a young writer of poetry, a fan of children’s poetry, teacher, or an industry professional, please also follow Children’s Poetry Summit which will have a blog every Thursday.

Thanks to Chris Riddell for his lovely artwork which is the Children’s Poetry Summit logo.

Posted in Poetry News

Fun and Joy at the Federation Of Children’s Book Groups’ Conference

Because of the Feast of Children’s Poets and Poetry A-Z, I haven’t posted this!

Earlier in April a group of children’s poets were invited to perform at the FCBG’s Conference. It was such fun – we all did a set, and sang some songs… with an hour’s practise! But we are used to performing together so it wasn’t too hard.

The musical talents, guitars, and drums of strange and peculiar shapes and sizes, were provided by Roger Stevens, John Dougherty, Ed Boxall and Brian Moses – and we all sang, but me, Zaro Weil and Laura Mucha were the backing group, too. Thank you Roy Johnson of Troika for arranging it!

Apparently there were murmurings that they wanted us back next year. I’m not complaining, I’d do it every night if I could, so if anyone wants to employ a poet band, let us know!

Posted in Poetry News

AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal!

Hello! Regular readers will already know I’m Liz Brownlee, poet, National Poetry Day Ambassador, blogger and tweeter and supporter of all things poetry and children’s poetry related in particular. This April I will be blogging a poetry feast from some of the best poets and children’s poets.

Every day (except Sunday) there will be a different poet featured, and each poet featured has kindly sent a poem for you to enjoy.

And 26 wonderful poems have been sent!

The challenge starts on Monday, April 1st (no, it’s not a joke!) and finishes on Tuesday, April 30th.

If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I am @lizpoet. I also Tweet the Children’s Poetry Summit Twitter account, @kidspoetsummit, and an account set up to support our children’s fight for their climate @poets4climate.

Poetry Roundabout is my website for all things related to children’s poetry. My own website is LizBrownleePoet. I also run BetheChange, a new website about sustainability poems for children.

The book above, Apes to Zebras, is my latest book published, shape poems written by me, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. And that’s me in the corner, with my medical assistance dog, Lola!

I’m looking forward to seeing you all during the month.

Posted in Poetry News

It’s Book Week!

A Chinese dragon on a wall at the Haikou Yazhou Gu Cheng, Hainan, China, by Anna Frodesiak.

I started off Book Week in St Cuthbert’s Infant School Wells, where we had great fun writing some dragon poems.

Here’s a dragon poem from me, for Tuesday of Book Week!


How to paint a Chinese dragon


Use a bamboo brush

held lightly in three fingers

at the back


Flow the movement

from your shoulder; use Chinese ink

in red or black


Paint a twining

river for the body of your dragon

needs to wind


Then its head, snake

teeth bared, and its crest on the wind

waving behind


Sweep whiskers

like antennae, add a demon eye

round and wide


Armour your dragon;

curve overlapping scales along

its side


Hook eagle

claws on tiger paws, make it dance

upon the air


Paint a pearl

within its mouth, so its magic

takes it where


it can breathe

in clouds, conjure wind and rain

in sky


Give your

dragon life, take your brush, and

dot its eye.


© Liz Brownlee


In Chinese, 画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng) “Paint the dragon, dot the eyes” is a saying meaning adding the finishing touch to something.

I hope you all have a fabulous Book Week, and enjoy every minute of it!


Posted in Poetry Awards, Poetry News

Attention Teachers! Vote in the Teachers Book Awards Before 2018 Ends!

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!

Posted in Poetry News

Win a Copy of Apes to Zebras, an A-Z of Shape Poems!

Wow. It’s pretty gorgeous, isn’t it? I am so PROUD of this book, written with my lovely poet friends Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. We worked very hard on this book – and Bloomsbury have done us proud. It’s for 8 and up, but children as young as 3 have been enjoying it, because the words are in shapes, apparently! Here is a link to the latest of it’s fab reviews, this one from The Reader Teacher.

Bloomsbury are giving one away in the UK – all you have to do is click on the link to enter.

“WIN a copy of our gorgeous new poetry book by @Lizpoet @SueHardyDawson and @PoetryZone PLUS a sumptuous A3 print and fun postcards by liking and sharing our pinned Facebook post by Thursday 22nd March!”

Click here to enter:

Good luck!

Posted in Poetry News

Do you like Children’s Poetry News, Poems, Writing Advice, Teaching Advice? Follow @kidspoetsummit!

If you do, then follow the Children’s Poetry Summit on Twitter at @kidspoetsummit.

The Children’s Poetry Summit tweets news and poems and fun anything to do with children’s poetry every day of the year.

If you’d like to know what else they do, this is their mission statement:


Children’s Poetry Summit


The Children’s Poetry Summit is a UK network of individuals and organisations actively interested in poetry for children. It provides a regular forum for discussion, information exchange, sharing of ideas and good practice, and a pressure group which campaigns for children’s poetry.

Members are children’s poets, publishers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, organisations and individuals interested in children’s poetry

Our principle aims are to:

  • exchange information and ideas, keep up to date with what is currently happening and generally raise the profile of children’s poetry
  • create opportunities and campaign on behalf of  poetry for children and teens through publishing, bookselling, in schools, teacher training colleges and literature organisations
  • support and promote the writing of poetry by children

In pursuance of these aims we undertake to:

  • encourage wide participation in the group, to include poets, teachers, librarians, publishers, literature organisations and booksellers
  • exploit potential of social media – maintain a regular presence on Facebook and Twitter and consider setting up a Blog where opinions and activities relating to the Summit can be expressed
  • make use of all opportunities to promote Poetry Summit – IBBY UK Newsletter, YLG E-Newsletter, BooksforKeeps, Conferences, The Poetry Library, The Poetry Society, TES, The Guardian and other media outlets.
  • follow up on opportunities to provide platforms for and promote each other’s work


In other words if you are a parent, teacher, librarian, bookseller or anyone else interested in children’s poetry news, this is the Twitter account to follow!