Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZ Challenge; Z is for 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, Mud, Moon and Me, published by Orchard Books, UK and Houghton Mifflin, USA, which can be bought here. Her book Firecrackers, Troika, illustrated by Jo Riddellcan be bought here, and her lovely new book, Cherry Moon is just out and available here! Zaro’s website is here.

Zaro has sent this wonderful poem for the poetry feast:

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HIDE AND SEEK

I decided to play a game with quiet

hide and seek

my turn

I slipped into the woods

looking for quiet

instead

a cacophony of forest-crackle

a hullabaloo of beast-babel

sprang towards me while

a tweedledum of pandemonium

circled above

it was a free-for-all

and even the sun

jangled copper

between the leaves

so much for the forest

I went to the sea

searching for quiet

but the waves trumpeted

a rumbling ruckus

a crash of crinkle-crests while

squarking gulls sky-dived into

wind-trembled sea and

tiny sea things zig-zagged

underfoot as a medley of

fat green seaweed

slapped the sand

non-stop non-stop

so much for the sea

but then I turned

and quiet tagged me

I stopped

forest stopped

sea stopped

I found quiet

it must have been hiding

the whole time

inside my words

inside of me

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© Zaro Weil

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If you would like to blog hop to another A-Z Challenge post please follow this link.

Children’s Poets’ Climate Change Blog: Be the Change

Liz’s Blog: Liz Brownlee Poet

Liz’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizpoet

KidsPoets4Climate Twitter: https://twitter.com/poets4climate

Children’s Poetry Summit Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidspoetsummit

Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZ Challenge; T is for Nick Toczek

Nick Toczek is a British writer and performer who has had more than forty books and dozens of recording published. As well as being a poet, he’s a rock journalist (for the magazine RnR), a radio broadcaster with his own week show (on BCB Radio), a professional magician and puppeteer, and an authority on the activities of racist groups in the UK and in America. His Authors Abroad page is here, and his brand new website is here.

Here is the lovely poem Nick has sent for the Poetry Feast:

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GROWING

 

A branch begins as a twig.

A piglet becomes a pig.

When I’m older, I’ll be big,

Biggerty, biggerty, big.

 

An elephant starts off small,

And little bricks build a wall.

When I’m older, I’ll be tall,

Tiggerty, tiggerty, tall.

 

Maybe a baby just cries

Yet learns with its ears and eyes.

When I’m older, I’ll be wise,

Wiggerty, wiggerty, wise.

 

Our legs and our arms get long,

Grow muscles where they belong.

When I’m older, I’ll be strong,

Striggerty, striggerty, strong.

 

And anyone can be cruel,

A bully, a beast, a fool.

When I’m older, I’ll be cool,

Kiggerty, kiggerty, cool.

 

© Nick Toczek

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge poet then follow this link.

Children’s Poets’ Climate Change Blog: Be the Change

Liz’s Blog: Liz Brownlee Poet

Liz’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizpoet

KidsPoets4Climate Twitter: https://twitter.com/poets4climate

Children’s Poetry Summit Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidspoetsummit

Posted in Poet's Piece

How to Engage KS1 and 2 – and, Are you a Poet or a Guitarist or a Comedian? By James Carter

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?

Posted in Poet's Piece

Caterpillar Prize-Winning Author Coral Rumble; The Challenge of Writing Poems for Children

Coral specialises in writing and performing for children, and as well as being in many anthologies, 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 Baines. You can read more about Coral in her A-Z entry. Here Coral tells us something about writing poems for children, and also specifically about writing her prize-winning poem for Caterpillar Magazine

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THE CHALLENGE OF WRITING POEMS FOR CHILDREN.

(Written by a poet who still has much to learn.)

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I think that many poets would agree with N R Hart, who has said,

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence”. Adults often experience that wonderful moment, when the words in a poem resonate, and make clearer, or change, an area of their understanding. Of course, sometimes a poem simply reflects our experience, which is also valuable; confirmation is a wonderful thing! Humorous poems do this well. They often expose an embarrassing situation, then encourage the reader to relax as they personally identify with it.

Children experience their own areas of silence, and also deserve to hear a breakthrough of sound, as a poem encourages them to look at something from a different angle. ‘Mustafa’s Jumper’, the poem I entered for The Caterpillar Poetry Prize, is about a child losing his belonging in a community, and another child feeling the emptiness. I wanted the image of the empty jumper to become a symbol of the losses children have to deal with, without exploration or explanation. We often feel sorry for children who suffer in some way, we might even post on social media, heart-wrenching photos, but we don’t necessarily listen to their voices. Poets must listen and sometimes write in a way that makes their voices louder.

When we write poems for children, we mustn’t be dishonest. We must write for a child, not for ourselves, or to gain the admiration of other writers. Somehow, we have to marry personally satisfying poetic technique with a sensitivity to the experience of a child, living in a child’s world. When writing for adults it can be exhilarating to express yourself to your wordsmith limit, to push concepts a little further, to develop sophisticated images that make others say, ‘Ah, I can see it now.’ A child needs to, ‘see it now’, too, but we must always show respect to where they are in their understanding, and not usher them into the room of our imagination and experience, insisting that they see what their eyes can’t yet focus on. That doesn’t mean we should avoid writing anything that will challenge and stretch a child, there are many great poets writing poems that do so. However, if we say we are writing for a child, the child must come first, and our responsibility is to meet them where they are, before we take them on a new journey.

I’d add, as a note of balance, never underestimate what a child can understand and respond to, and remember that children vary greatly in all respects. Don’t expect ALL children to enjoy ALL of your poems. That’s okay, you know! It’s also good to remember that a poem written for children, is usually enjoyed by an adult. Again, not ALL adults will enjoy your children’s poems, but if some do, it probably means they’re well written. C S Lewis said of story: –

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I think the same is true of poems.

The way I see it (and the way I see things is often flawed and in need of revision), if a poet only ever writes poems about bodily functions, in the belief that children are only interested in base matters, it’s insulting. At the same time, if a poet only ever writes in a way that insists children ‘grow up’ in understanding, because they think it will ‘do them good’, it’s arrogant. Balance is beautiful. All human beings, whatever their size, need to laugh as well as meditate on serious matters. At the end of the day, whether we’re rising to the challenge of writing for children or for adults, there’s a lot of paper out there; let’s mark it with something meaningful.

If you’d like to read ‘Mustafa’s Jumper’, you’ll find it at the bottom of the article here.

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

A is for Emergency Children’s Poet Deborah Alma, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Deborah Alma

Deborah Alma is the Emergency Poet in her vintage ambulance which she takes to schools and libraries and festivals. She has edited three adult poetry books and written her own collection of poems too. She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales with a cat called Little My and a sheepdog called Daisy. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Deborah’s poems, written in response to the picture shown:

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The Spirit of the House

from the painting by August Macke 1910

 

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat,

a blue striped jug, with the light catching

 

the glaze, its dazzle closes the eyes

of the cat -it is a jug of cream.

 

A scented geranium, red and jaunty

in a terracotta pot.

 

Three small oranges and a blue dish

to hold the finger rubs of friends around its rim

 

always, always when they come, they reach out

to stroke the leaves, to rub the dish,

 

to add to the stroked smug of the cat,

to peel an orange.

 

There they are my friends, their backs

to the wall as they bend and bow

 

to half heard music, from the times we danced

to the times we laughed.

 

A smug cat, a cosy cat, a passing cat.

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© Deborah Alma

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

B is for Children’s Poet Carole Bromley, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Carole Bromley

Carole Bromley lives in York where she has taught in schools, a Sixth Form College and at York University. She now tutors for the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society and the Poetry School. She was shortlisted for Manchester Writing for Children Award, and performed at CLiPPA Awards 2016. Her poetry collection for children, Blast Off! illustrated by Cathy Benson, is available here. Carole is available for workshops and readings in schools and at festivals.

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Here is her poem!

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Goldilocks

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I’d listened at the door; they were always there,

the daddy with the voice and the enormous chair,

the mummy with the pinny, stirring the vat;

banging his spoon, their spoilt wee brat.

 

The chance came soon; they were humouring

the kid, swinging him hand to hand,

There there, baby bear let’s leave our bowls,

walk in the forest till the porridge cools.

 

All the more for me; I walked in from the yard

climbed onto daddy’s chair – far too hard.

You know the score – hard, soft, right

hot, cold, fine;  big, small, mine.

 

Point was I had the whole place to myself,

put telly on, took a bath, rearranged a shelf.

Then it was Who’s been sitting in our chairs,

helping themselves? Beds are for bears

 

and this one’s bust. Yeah, yeah, fair cop.

But they chased after me and didn’t stop

till jumping out the window was the only way;

and there’s me thinking they’d ask me to stay.

 

But I’ll be back, you mark my words;

bears living in houses! It’s just absurd;

bears eating porridge, bears wearing frocks –

next time they’re out I’m changing the locks.

 

© Carole Bromley

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

B is for Children’s Poet Debra Bertulis, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Debra Bertulis

Debra Bertulis wanted to be a writer all her life. She now writes children’s poetry, plays and is busy working on a middle grade novel and a collection of her own poetry. As a teacher of speech and drama, Debra is passionate about her work at an outstanding Primary Academy. She has been published in poetry magazines including Caterpillar Magazine, and anthologies, including Is this a Poem? Ed. Roger Stevens, Bloomsbury, and also a recent Bloomsbury Education series by Brian Moses including Poems about the Seasons. Her latest publication is in Joshua Seigal’s upcoming I Bet I can Make you Laugh, Bloomsbury Education. She enjoys visiting schools across the country with Authors Abroad. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Debra’s great poems:

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Mr Snowman

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Monday built our Snowman

Sitting proud and fat

Tuesday gave him a football scarf

And the warmest woolly hat

Wednesday gave him button eyes

Thursday a carrot nose

Friday gave him sticks for arms

And Saturday more clothes

But Sunday gave bad weather

The sky began to cry

Sunday took our Snowman

We never said goodbye.

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© Debra Bertulis (Published in Poems about the Seasons, chosen by Brian Moses) 2015, Wayland

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

C is for Children’s Poet Mandy Coe, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Mandy Coe

Mandy Coe is the author of seven books and winner of a number of awards. Her work has featured on BBC radio and television programmes such as CBeebies, Woman’s Hour and Poetry Please. Mandy regularly visits schools through author’s visits and her work on teaching poetry has been published by the TES, Bloomsbury and Cambridge University Press. Her poems can be heard on Talking Poetry, BBC Schools Radio and the Poetry Archive. Her children’s collection, If You Could See Laughter  (Salt 2010) was Highly Commended by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award. Mandy’s website is here

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Here is a poem from Mandy:

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Cancan

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When I dance

my blood runs like a river can,

my feet fly like the birds can,

my heart beats like a drum can.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

 

Flying over rooftops

I see my town below me

where everybody knows me,

where all my problems throw me,

where heavy feet can slow me.

But nobody can, can stop me

when I dance.

 

My blood runs a race.

My feet fly in space.

My heart beats the pace.

Because when I dance I can,

can do anything

when I dance.

 

© Mandy Coe (From Michael Rosen’s A-Z, The Best Children’s Poems from Agard to Zephaniah, Puffin)

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

D is for Rebecca Kai Dotlich, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Rebecca Kai Dotlich is a poet and picture book author who grew up in the Midwest exploring trails by the creek, reading comic books and building snow forts.  She attended Indiana University. She speaks and teaches about writing for children to literature conferences, with students, teachers and aspiring writers all over the US. Her books have been awarded many honours. Rebecca’s work appears in dozens of anthologies, magazines and textbooks. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Rebecca’s poems:

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A Circle of Sun

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I’m dancing.

I’m leaping.

I’m skipping about.

I gallop.

I grin.

I giggle.

I shout.

I’m Earth’s many colors.

I’m morning and night.

I’m honey on toast.

I’m funny.

I’m bright.

I’m swinging.

I’m singing.

I wiggle.

I run.

I’m a piece of the sky

in a circle of sun.

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© Rebecca Kai Dotlich (From LEMONADE SUN published by Boyds Mills Press)

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

D is for Children’s Poet Jan Dean, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Jan Dean

Jan Dean is a British poet and a National Poetry Day Ambassador. She writes poems in a tucked away corner of the house, next to a rubber chicken handbag and Templeton the kiwi.  She has two full collections of poetry, three collaborations and is in over a hundred anthologies.  She visits schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes. Her latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello (written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan). Her website is here.

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Here is one of Jan’s fabulous poems;

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I caught a grasshopper –

 

I caught a grasshopper –

heard its saw-tooth squeaky song

then let my eyes follow my ears

to the pale blade where it sat,

moved soft and slow

so that it wouldn’t know I was there,

cupped it in my hands

before its hairpin legs could flick

and bounce it far away.

 

I caught a grasshopper –

felt it tickle in my pink palms.

Gotcha.  Laughed.

But what can you do

with a grasshopper?

What use is a grasshopper

without the field,

without the sky?

How can it be a green scratch

against the blue

if you don’t let it leap?

 

So I opened the box of my fingers –

It wasn’t mine to keep.

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© Jan Dean (The Penguin in Lost Property by Jan Dean & Roger Stevens. Macmillan 2014)

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

D is for Children’s Poet Shauna Darling Robertson, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Shauna Darling Robertson

Shauna Darling Robertson was born in Northumberland in 1968 and now lives in Somerset. She’s had lots of different jobs over the years but none have involved either jazz or maths (this sentence will make much more sense once you’ve read the poem below). Her poems for adults and children have been set to music, performed by actors, displayed on buses, turned into short films, made into comic art, hung on a pub wall and published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Shauna also makes artwork and loves working with other writers, artists, musicians and film-makers to explore and play with poetry in different ways. Her website is here.

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Here is one of Shauna’s great poems:

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HERE’S A LITTLE JAZZ NUMBER

 

Jools the jazz saxophonist

longs to be an accountant.

 

But belongs to a family

of maestro musicians.

‘No son of mine,’ moans Dad,

‘is going to be a number cruncher.’

‘Maths?’ hoots Mum. ‘Don’t

be daft, son. Music’s far more fun,’

as she tunes her harp

for the hundredth time

in half as many days

(Jools did the sums).

 

Jools is a family asset, a one-in-a-million

capital saxophonist. He’s also top-brass

on trumpet, keyboard, drums, bass,

but needs to face up

to his ache to deduct,

divide, round-down, subtract.

 

These are taxing times –

Jools tours the world

and drowns in applause

from adoring fans.

He watches them, bored,

and counts their hands.

 

Reckoned up, Jools has penned

ten thousand, seven hundred and forty four autographs,

appeared on

two hundred and twenty six television chat shows,

and blown his horn in

a trillion towns covering seventy-six per cent

of all credit-rated countries.

 

But here’s the rub –

 

jazz sax

isn’t filling his cup.

He just wants to sit at a desk,

adding up.

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© Shauna Darling Robertson

Click on the title of the post if you are on the home page to be taken to the post’s page where you will be able to comment! Thank you!

You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter