Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Paul Cookson: Favourite Poetry Books

Paul Cookson has visited around 4000 schools, libraries, festivals, front rooms, written and edited over 60 titles – including the best selling The Works  – and has sold over a million books. He is a National Poetry Day Ambassador. Everton Football Club commissioned a poem for their season ticket campaign and the Everton Home poem which can be found online; it has been played on the big screens at Goodison Park. His collection  The Very Best Of  (Macmillan) contains many of his signature poems. His new collection for younger children, There’s a Crocodile in the House is reviewed here. Paul’s website is here and his Twitter here.

THE MERSEY SOUND – ROGER McGOUGH, BRIAN PATTEN & ADRIAN HENRI

Like many of my generation ( yes, I am that old ! ), this was the first book to switch my poetry light on. Poems that didn’t look like the poems we had to read at school, poems that were funny and ordinary – in short poems that made us think we could do it too. Roger McGough has always been one of my very favourite poets – whether for children or adults – and these days I still look forward to any brand new releases. This is where it all started. Just wonderful.

THE LUCKIEST GUY ALIVE – JOHN COOPER CLARKE

Even though this is a recent publication I’m going to put this next as chronologically John was the first poet I ever saw perform live – supporting Be Bop Deluxe at Preston Guildhall. I’ve loved his work and style ever since. If Roger was the first poet to make me want to write poems then John was the first poet who made me want to perform them. And I think his work is now stronger than ever. Not for kids – but brilliant!

NICE AND NASTY – STEVE TURNER

This was a large format collection of poems. I lent my copy to a French girl and she never returned it … so I don’t have the original anymore. But I remember the simplicity, fun and wordplay – and have followed Steve ever since. Short poems are fun / you can tell at a glance / whether you like them or not.

UP THE BOO AYE SHOOTING POOKAKIES – MIKE HARDING

 Always a fan of Lancashire folk singer and comedian I bought this collection and “The Singing Street” from his mailing list. “Up The Boo Aye …” was a sumptuously presented colour collection of mad children’s poems! So much fun. “The Singing Street” was black and white , illustrated, with poems about childhood and growing up. Both had a profound and inspirational effect on me over the years. His poems for adults are stunning too.

FALLING UP – SHEL SIVERSTEIN

I love the look of these books – they are spacious where the poems and pictures have time to breathe. I hate cluttered books. There is fun a plenty – crazy rhymes and wordplay and stuff that just makes me smile. I could have picked any one of his books but this is a cracker.

COLLECTED POEMS – GARETH OWEN

Salford Road, Den To Let … and more. Poems I wish I’d written! I love the wry humour and conversational tone that Gareth infuses into his poetry. There is warmth and nostalgia, humour and pathos. Everyone should have this collection – it is that good. And our love of Everton ( and poetry ) made us friends – mostly Everton though!

THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL – BILLY COLLINS

A few years ago I went to the Festival Hall – mainly to see Roger McGough – but Billy Collins was there too. And I loved his work there and then. Somewhat ordinary and understated there is a profundity lurking that catches you unawares. He captures moments majestically and magically. Simple, straightforward, yet with hidden depths – poetry we can understand.

THE VERY BEST OF PAUL COOKSON

I’m tempted to go for my latest collection – “There’s a Crocodile In The House” ( your latest is always a favourite ) – but I’m going to go for my VERY BEST OF because of the range of poems therein. As a performer who like to make audiences laugh you can get stereotyped as “that funny poet” ( and I love that, I really do! And I think funny poems are very much under rated – often by people who can’t write funny poems to be honest! ). But this collection has a real variety of styles, genres, subjects and emotions and poems that I’m really proud of. If you want laughs and joining in – well, go for “Crocodile”!!

Paul Cookson

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Coral Rumble; My Favourite Poetry Books

Here is the second in the series where I’m asking children’s poets what their favourite poetry books are – they must choose one of their own, and they can if they wish choose a book of poems for adults, too. This week, it’s Coral Rumble!

I could list so many books, so I’ve decided to avoid listing any by my personal friends, as I wouldn’t be able to stop! (Not just because they’re my friends, but because they’re all ridiculously talented.) Instead, I’ve thought further afield and back in time; it’s been quite a journey!

I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree (Nosy Crow) Ed Fiona Waters

Hooray, hooray! In 2018 something unusual happened. A publisher spent a lot of money on producing a poetry book that was beautiful and inviting. With full colour illustrations throughout, the richness of text is matched by the extravagance of visual interpretation. What a breath of fresh air! Bravo Nosy Crow!

The Magic Box (Macmillan) Kit Wright

Okay, this might seem a blast from the past, but we’re only travelling back to 2010. Are there many schools where children have not been inspired to write their own version of the famous title poem? Playful language, a light touch, totally delightful.

Grandad’s Tree (Barefoot Books) Ed. Jill Bennett

First published in 2003, this book is bold in its treatment of sad subjects that children need to talk about. With poems from the likes of Grace Nichols, Berlie Doherty and Carl Sandburg, you know you’re in for a treat. ‘Always Remembering Eloise’ by Lindsay MacRae renders me speechless.

The Utter Nutters (Puffin) Brian Patten

I’m going to take you back a little further in time. In 1994 this fantastic collection of Brian’s poems delighted more visual learners, who responded to text and illustration working together. I remain still as fond of this innovative book based on the various wacky neighbours all living on one imagined street.

Something Big Has Been Here (HarperCollins) Jack Prelutsky

We’re still time travelling, this time back to 1990. I love Jack Prelutsky! He’s such a master of scansion; there are no untidy ends to tie. I want to skip through the pages of this book, not in the sense of haste, but in the sense of spirit.

When We Were Very Young (Methuen) A.A. Milne

First published in 1924! I’m not just being sentimental, I just love this book, containing classics like ‘Halfway Down’ and ‘Buckingham Palace’. It’s where my love of words started. On top of that, it’s full of wonderful illustrations by E.H. Shepherd!

And my own book?

Riding a Lion (Troika Books) Coral Rumble

Well, it’s kind of back to the future now, because this book doesn’t yet exist! I think most poets feel that their latest work is their best, and I’m very excited about this collection. Anyway, you can never start marketing too early!

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

P is for Children’s Poet Brian Patten, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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.)

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