Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Climate Truth Poem from Roger Stevens

Roger Stevens is a National Poetry Day Ambassador, a founding member of the Able Writers scheme and runs the award-winning website www.poetryzone.co.uk for children and teachers. Roger (link to 3 Simple Steps to Perk up your Poems) has published 40 books for children. His book Apes to Zebras – an A to Z of Shape Poems (Bloomsbury), written with Sue Hardy Dawson and Liz Brownlee, won the prestigious NSTB award in 2018. Recent books include  I Am a Jigsaw; Puzzling Poems to Baffle your Brain (Bloomsbury 2019) and Moonstruck; an Anthology of Moon Poems (Otter-Barry). This poem is from the Tricky Questions, Talking Points section of the just published Be the Change; Poems About Sustainability (Macmillan) written with Liz Brownlee and Matt Goodfellow.

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Getting to the Truth

Some people say
drinking cow’s milk is bad
For one thing
cows expel huge volumes
of greenhouse gasses
which contribute
to global warming

They say
Drink almond milk.
Almonds are good for you.
And they are.
Very good for you.

But it turns out
that nearly all the world’s almonds
are grown in California*
where there are often droughts
And did you know that
in California
it takes
six thousand litres of water
to produce one litre of almond milk?
That’s BONKERS!
And farmers are ripping up
healthy citrus groves
to meet the rising demand
for almond milk.

Oatmilk seems to be a better alternative
But the whole point is this.
Don’t always accept
what you read on a label.
or what people tell you.
Don’t always believe what you read
in the papers
or see on TV
or on the internet
If you really want to help
Just dig a little deeper
Try and get to the truth

*around 80%

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© Roger Stevens

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Thank you for the poem, Roger!

 

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week, Climate Lies Poem from Dom Conlon

We continue today, the day before National poetry Day, with a climate lies poem from Dom Conlon. Dom launched onto the children’s poetry scene with Astro Poetica, illustrated by Jools Wilson, a collection of poems inspired by space and praised by Nicola Davies, Jon Culshaw, George Szirtes and many more. Since then he has been published in magazines and anthologies whilst performing and teaching in schools and libraries around the North West. He’s a regular guest on BBC Radio Lancashire where his poetry covers everything from the universe to grief. Dom’s work can be read here.

There is no new land to discover

 

The law passed in the year

twenty-it-doesn’t-matter

making it illegal to make anything

which could not biodegrade

but change came too late

they’d already climbed into the plastic bath

and cut it loose from the plumbing

plug plugged in taps stopped

as the latest flood

licked away the wall like a stamp

sending them out through the town clutching

each other like loofahs

but all we found all we have of them now

is the rubber duck

squeaking its parched cry over a sea of bags

whispering in the wind of days out days shopping

days caught below a storm filled with gossip

of how the world does not need saving.

 

© Dom Conlon

 

Great Climate Lies poem, Dom, thank you.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week, Climate Truth Poem from Liz Brownlee

Happy National Poetry Day Week from me! If you don’t know who I am, I’m a children’s poet, I own Lola the poet assistance dog, I quite enjoy performing but prefer organising poetry events, I write this blog, and my own, and I have five published books, the latest of which is Be the Change, Poems to Help you Save the World, from which the following poem comes. It is not too late to change the world. The truth is we just need to love one another, help one another and cooperate with one another.

 

Snow

Swirling slowly

in lilting flight,

as cold as stars,

in soundless white,

 

their drifting feathers

spread their wings,

and sing the songs

that snowflakes sing,

 

of how small gifts

of peace and light

can change the world

in just one night.

 

© Liz Brownlee

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week, Lie Poem from Coral Rumble

Wednesday’s National Poetry Day Week poem is from the wonderful Coral Rumble. Coral has worked as a poet and performer for many years and now specialises in writing and performing for children. She has three collections, Creatures, Teachers and Family FeaturesBreaking the Rulesillustrated by Nigel Bainesand My Teacher’s as Wild as a Bisonalso illustrated by Nigel Bainesand has poems in over 100 anthologies for young people. Her website is here.

The Lie Fox

 

Sometimes, the Lie Fox

Races out of my mouth

Before I can stop him.

 

He’s a sneaky character –

Crafty, cunning, conniving,

Tricking my tongue into action.

 

Speedily, he darts into ears,

Wriggles into the minds

Of my trusting friends.

 

He’s sly, that artful Lie Fox,

Always prising open my pursed lips,

Chasing the truth into dark corners.

 

© Coral Rumble

 

Thank you for this great lie poem, Coral!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Truth Poem by Kate Williams

Kate Williams wrote her first poems for her children – anything to get them to sleep at night! But they stayed awake and suggested she sent them off to a publisher. She followed their advice and has been writing poems ever since, with around 200 published to date in books and arts magazines for children in the UK, Australia and the US. Kate also provides poetry workshop days for primary schools. Here is her website.

 

If we let it

As true as the blue of a field cornflower,
As surely as the glory of a great, green wood,
As stark as the bark of a midnight fox,
As clear as the dear robin’s cheep-cheep-cheep,
As true as me and you, and all we ever knew,
our world will fall away if we let it.

© Kate Williams

 

Thank you for sending your lovely truth poem, Kate!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week – Truth Poem by Matt Goodfellow

Matt Goodfellow (links to What Poetry Offers in the Classroom) is a poet and National Poetry Day Ambassador. His most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), written with Liz Brownlee (me!) and Roger Stevens, and his solo collection, 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. His new book, Be the Change, Poems to Help you Save the World, written with Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee (me, again!), is out now. Matt’s website is here.

 

Walk

the mown path
through the park
sparkles with dew
which stains the tips
of these too-tight shoes
and way way up
in the stillness
of the blue
passengers
sip cardboard teas
suck boiled sweets
lean back in their seats
and know nothing
of me
down here
on my last walk
to school
© Matt Goodfellow
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Thanks for this lovely poem, Matt.
Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week! Truth Poem from Joshua Seigal

Tuesday’s poem for National Poetry week is from Joshua Seigal. Joshua is a London-based poet, a performer and educator. He has three published books and has performed all over the world. He has held residencies at numerous schools, and is an official National Poetry Day Ambassador. His website is here and his book, I don’t Like Poetry, illustrated by Chris Piascik, here.

Lies

Whenever I start crying
I say that I feel sick,
and no one knows I’m lying –
It always does the trick.

It’s what I tell my teachers,
my friends, my mum and dad –
I tell them that I feel sick
when really I feel sad.

© Joshua Seigal (from I Don’t Like Poetry, Bloomsbury 2016)

Thank you for this lovely poem, Joshua Seigal!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day – Celia Warren’s Favourite Quote from William Blake

Celia Warren has been writing poetry ever since she learned to read, and has been published in hundreds of children’s anthologies. 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 latest book, Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles, illustrated by Sean Longcroft, A&C Black, is all about worms! Celia’s website is here.
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A Truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent
.
William Blake
From Auguries of Innocence
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Thanks for sending that quote, Celia Warren!
Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week, Lie Poem by 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! .

 

Compulsive Liar

 

My best friend tells lies all the time.

He says he’s lost his homework

when he hasn’t even done it.

He says he’s feeling sick

when he wants to bunk off school.

I’ve even heard him lie about his name –

when we got caught scrumping apples one time.

My friend is such a liar that he’ll even lie

for absolutely no reason at all.

For example if you ask him,

‘Do you like chocolate ice-cream?’

which everyone knows he’s crazy about,

he’ll automatically say ‘No, I hate it.’

 

My dad says, ‘That boy’s a compulsive liar,’

which means that it’s so natural

for him to tell lies that he can’t help it.

But yesterday something happened

which I believe shows that there is some hope for him.

Our teacher asked him who, in his opinion,

was the smartest pupil in the school.

Quick as a flash he pointed at me and said, ‘He is.’

I don’t know why everyone laughed.

 

© Philip Waddell (Originally published in anthologies by Brian Moses and Tony Bradman)

 

Thank you for this great poem, Philip Waddell!

 

 

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week! Monday’s Poem from Laura Mucha!

Today’s poem for National Poetry week is from the fabulous Laura Mucha!  Laura has 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.

I Did Not See What He Said He Saw

No witness stands, confirms his claim.
No doctor certifies he’s sane.
Optician – none, his eyesight – poor,
perhaps he might believe he saw
precisely what he says he saw…

But that’s just it – a mere belief:
the mind’s a trickster, joker, thief.

And so, as I have said before,
I did not see what he said he saw.

© Laura Mucha

Thank you for that great poem Laura!

Posted in My Favourite Poetry Books

Charles Ghigna: My Favourite Poetry Books

In 1999, I stayed in Canada for a couple of months, and there, in a children’s book shop, the door to the world of Canadian and American poets was opened for me. Charles Ghigna was one of the poets I discovered, and now I have come to know many Canadian and American poets, who are of course just as delightful and talented as the British variety. I’m so pleased to be able to host Charles (or Father Goose® as he is often known) on Poetry Roundabout this week. He lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books and more than five thousand poems for children and adults. I am reading his wonderful new book, Dear Poet at the minute. A review is in the offing! 

Thank you so much for inviting me to choose my favourite children’s poetry books! Here are my choices with a couple of lines of explanation.

THE 20TH CENTURY CHILDREN’S POETRY TREASURY selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, published by Knopf. Who could resist this perennial classic? I’ve been recommending this one to teachers, librarians and parents during my school visits and conference talks since it first appeared twenty years ago. It contains more than 200 poems by more than 100 of the leading poets writing for children in the twentieth century. This is one of the first anthologies illustrated by Meilo So. Her dreamy watercolours set the perfect background to this memorable, must-have collection.

KNOCK AT A STAR: A CHILD’S INTRODUCTION TO POETRY edited by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, illustrated by Karen Lee Baker, published by Little, Brown. Another perennial classic. With poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and many others, the Kennedys filled this two hundred page volume with a wide variety of well-chosen favourite poems. Their clever introductions to each verse form creates the perfect introduction to poetry for eager young readers. Teachers and parents love it too!

WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published by Abrams. I’m a big fan of all the poetry anthologies compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This is one my favourites. Ekphrasis poems at their finest. Seeing poets interpret the artworks of Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Fernando Botero and others inspires us all to visit museums with pen and paper in hand.

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG edited by Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick. This is one of my new favourite poetry anthologies for children. Not only is this an irresistible book of irresistible poems, it is a book of some of my favourite poet friends! This book stands as a stunning tribute to Paul Janeczko who died just before the book was published.

THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. More than 200 poems take us on a journey to explore and celebrate the people and places of the United States. Gorgeous photos showcase the poems that reveal the rich diversity of cultures that make up the American dream.

THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. If you are looking for a captivating book of poems about animals for kids, this is it! Put this book out on a table and watch children gather around to marvel over the photos and to read aloud the wit and wisdom of poets who bring this menagerie alive.

THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY editor by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. Another PW starred review anthology of poems by J. Patrick Lewis. Listen to kids oooh and ahhh over the photos as they read through the more than 200 poems that pay homage to Nature in all her glory.
DEAR POET: NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER by Charles Ghigna, published by Resource Publications.
Posted in Global Climate Action Day

Global Climate Action

 

Today Friday 20 September, Global Climate Action Day. I choose to share this poem, scheduled yesterday, as today I am in Bristol marching with our young people to protest the inaction of our government and global governments on the climate crisis.

 

Things We Cannot Keep

 

The softness of the lemon in a primrose

the nodding of the bluebell from a bee

the silence in the gaps of the bird’s song

the library of the creatures in a tree

the plumping of a plum in the sunshine

the crazy path an ant left in the grass

the warmth of a hug and its safety

the moment when the sky darks for the stars

the blink of a bat through the dusk light

the leaves shown in moon breath from above

the heart of iced water in the arctic

the diverse beauty of the planet that we love

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Justin Coe: Favourite Poetry Books

Justin Coe is not only a lovely chap, he is a poet, writer and spoken word theatre creator, specialising in work for young audiences. He has taken his act all over the world, including to a sitting room made entirely out of newspaper. He’s the author of  The Dictionary of Dads illustrated by Steve Wells (Otter-Barry Books, published May 2017). 

Justin Coe – My Favourite Books

Daft as a Doughnut by Adrian Mitchell (Orchard Books). I fell in love with Adrian Mitchell when I read his poem “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people”.  His children’s poetry is full of gentleness and joy. I often take this book on my travels to schools, sometimes I just need to wrap my hands around a piece of Adrian Mitchell’s heart!

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (Bloomsbury).  A story about a boy who is initially confused by poetry, but when he begins to write about his relationship with his dog, he discovers a whole new way of expressing his feelings.  This book introduced me to verse novels, but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever read one as simple and as satisfying as this.

On My Way to School I Saw A Dinosaur by Roger Stevens (A&C Black). This is a funny and poignant book of poems aimed at young readers, loosely following a child through their year at school in Frog Class. I’m a big fan of Roger Stevens’ work for children.

I like This Poem edited by Kaye Webb (Puffin). Not being a prolific reader as a child, I was quietly devastated to receive this poetry anthology as a Christmas present. I would much rather my Aunty had given me a fun pack of Curly Wurlys. However, even then I found something to enjoy… in particular “From a Railway Carriage” by Robert Louis Stevenson. 40 years later, I still own this book, so it’s certainly lasted longer than the chocolate would have.  (Today’s Aunties take note though, for the contemporary “Justin”, how about I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal instead?)

A Kid in my Class by Rachel Rooney (Otter-Barry) My daughter is 11 and, like me at her age, not a great fan of reading. But when I introduced her to Kid in My Class, she loved it. With a poem for every member of the class (including the hamster), this is an easy to grasp concept that will encourage more children to the world of poetry. I get the same thrill reading Rachel Rooney as I do when I listen to Suzanne Vega’s songs, both have a pinpoint poetic precision I really admire.

For the adult bookA Lover Sings, Selected Lyrics, Billy Bragg. (Faber and Faber). Performers like Attila The Stockbroker, Benjamin Zephaniah and John Hegley re-ignited my passion for poetry that had very nearly died an analysing death in the classroom. But, before I discovered these guys, there was Billy Bragg. These days, I enjoy all sorts of poems. but no words have had a bigger impact on me than those of the Bard of Barking.

I had already been performing for twenty years before The Dictionary of Dads (Otter-Barry ) an A – Z of different Dad characters, was published, so I’m delighted it’s now on its second print and doing well. I’m looking forward to the seeing the sequel The Magic of Mums which is out in February next year.

Posted in Be the Change

Be the Change – Poems to Help you Save the World!

It’s out today! This is a ‘heart’ book. Written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, this is a book that took a lot of our care and research and love of the planet to produce. It’s for those children who are worried about the things they are hearing about climate crisis, and feeling powerless. It gives them things to do to help.

There is information, there are talking points, springboards for discussion about fairness and tricky climate problems, and hopeful poems about climate successes, too. Poems to cover nearly all of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, poems about toilets, tomatoes and glitter, people, plastic, and paper, whales, weather and windmills.

Perfect for all young planet protectors!

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Pie Corbett: Favourite Poetry Books

Seventh in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is Pie Corbett. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. Pie is an English educational trainer, writer, author, anthologist and poet who has written over two hundred books. He is now best known for creating Talk for Writing which is a teaching programme that supports children as storytellers and writers. Pie is a wonderful and dedicated supporter of children’s writing and children’s poets.

Favourite Poetry books

The Magic Box by Kit Wright brings together all of his beautifully crafted poems for children. He is just at home being funny as he is when dealing with deeper emotions. It contains his classic poem ‘The Magic Box’ which always works as a catalyst for children’s writing. A must for every Key Stage 2 classroom.

Manifold Manor by Philip Gross is one of the finest poetry books written for children in the last 50 years. Each poem is a game and invites children into writing. Wonderfully crafted and richly imagined. Enter the Manor and play.

Poetry in the Making by Ted Hughes is an anthology of poems with extensive notes about teaching writing. As a teacher, this book helped me to understand how to teach children to closely observe the truth of experience and use words to capture and preserve their lives. Read this alongside his powerful Collected Poems for Children.

Collected Poems for Children by Charles Causley is rich with wonderful pickings. No one else writes quite like Causley, the master balladeer whose poems sound as if they are ancient folk songs sprung his own mythical world.

England – poems from a school edited by Kate Clanchy contains poems by secondary children from one school in a ‘challenging’ area. It shows just what should be bread and butter in every English department. This is the real thing – beautifully evocative poetry and should inspire every teacher.

Evidence of Dragons contains my own poems, many of which arose from writing with, alongside and for children. I hope that any teacher could take this book and find poetic ideas to use as a springboard into children’s own poetic responses.

The Mersey Sound has poems by Brian Patten, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough being playful, political and romantic. It was the book that first gave me the idea that I could write. It is of its time but I am grateful to the poems for helping me begin to find my own writing voice.

© Pie Corbett 2019