Posted in Poetry News

It’s Valentine’s Day!

Yes, today’s the day, so I’m posting the only love poem I’ve ever written. You can also see this poem as part of a collection of Valentine Poems over on Brian Moses’ blog – if you like poetry or are a teacher, you should really check Brian’s blog out – it is full of lesson ideas, poetry-writing ideas and also some collections of poetry for days like today.

Secret Valentine


Dearest Herbert, so you know

(and please don’t huff or whine)

as I’m the only one without,

you’re my secret valentine.


I told my friends about you

just yesterday at school

said you’re really good at football 

are dark, handsome, fit and cool.


I won’t make you walk with me

dressed up in fancy clothes

I love you just the way you are

down to your very bones.


I will show the kids at school

the card sent by my mum 

it’s always quite anonymous

I’ll pretend you are the one.


I’ll cover all my books and stuff

with hearts and ‘Herbert’ doodles

and no-one ever needs to know

you are in fact a poodle!


Liz Brownlee

And here he is...

Posted in Being Me, Poems About Thoughts, Worries and Feelings

Being Me, Out Today!

Being Me, Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings, by me, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, wonderfully Illustrated by Victoria Jane Wheeler, and published by Otter Barry Books.

The launch for this book of mental health poems was last night – what a lovely event it was.

Mental health problems among primary children are at an all-time high – and no wonder with all the pressures they have nowadays on top of all the thoughts, feelings and worries youngsters experience anyway.

We have attempted to cover a wide range of issues, poems to reassure, poems to find yourself in, poems hoping to start thought processes that might lead to asking for help, poems to open discussions between guardians, teachers, parents and youngsters.

Very much looking forward to sharing this book!

Posted in Children's Bookshow

The Children’s Bookshow: The Joy of Poetry

Over the last few weeks the team at The Children’s Bookshow have been thinking a lot about the joy of poetry. One of the Directors, Siân Williams, has been pulling poetry collections down from her shelves and revisiting all of the marvellous poets they have worked with over the years, and some with whom they hope to work in the near future.  Throughout November they are focusing on a different poet every week, giving you an overview of their life and work as well as some videos of them reading and performing their poetry.

They’ve announced three poets of the week – John Agard, Michael Rosen and Grace Nichols –  with Kit Wright and Kwame Alexander to follow.

You can see the posts and more videos here!

Posted in CLiPPA

Zaro Weil – the CLiPPA Award Winner 2020 for Cherry Moon!

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 book, Cherry Moon, is the 2020 CLiPPA Award Winner, and deservedly so, and available here! Zaro’s website is here.

Zaro kindly sent me this wonderful poem from the book a while ago for a poetry feast:



I decided to play a game with quiet

hide and seek

my turn

I slipped into the woods

looking for quiet


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


© Zaro Weil

Congratulations, Zaro and Troika Books!! 


Posted in Poetry Review

Belonging Street by Mandy Coe, Book Review




In the car park is a map of your town.

Everyone presses their finger

on the red dot that says,

You are here.


And here you are!

Inside your shoes, inside your skin

and beneath your hair,

on freshly cut grass, a double-decker bus,

or in bed, slipping into a dream.


In a map of your day

you are here, bookmarking

this page, passing ginger biscuits,

dodging umbrellas

as you dash through the rain.


You are blowing on a hot chip

and laughing with a friend.

Breathe in the smell of vinegar

and place your finger on this moment.


You are here, you are here!


© Mandy Coe


This is a gentle, relatable book full of humour and the wonder of being alive – to quote another of the poems ‘wrap it around you to keep you warm’.

There are many lovely, finely observed poems in here to share between parents and children, and poems that can be used as models for children’s own writing in school.

5 Stars – highly recommended for young people 5-9!

Belonging Street is published by Otter-Barry Books and is full of playful, detailed illustrations by Mandy Coe herself.

Posted in Children's Poetry Magazine

the caterpillar Magazine

Do you enjoy children’s poetry, do you know children who love beautifully illustrated stories and poems? Perhaps you know someone with children or grandchildren? Do let them know about the caterpillar magazine.

It’s a magazine of poems, stories and beautiful illustrations, by grown-ups for children. Created for young people between the ages of 7 and 11(ish), adults are bound to like it too. It is published four times a year, in March, June, September and December and is the sort of magazine I would have devoured as a young person.

Some children’s reviews:

Jemima, 11: Jemima thinks the caterpillar magazine has made her more interested in poetry. “I would describe it as colourful, funny, interesting, likeable and accessible/understandable to all.”

Carole Bromley asked Matilda (10), Martha (8) and Mabel (5) what they thought of the caterpillar, and all said they find it exciting to get the magazine in the post, and that they like looking at the illustrations. They like to keep it and reread it. When asked which poems they liked best, Matilda said rhyming poems, Martha said haiku and Mabel said sad poems! They all like writing poems.

There is no doubt that children’s ears are waiting and wanting to hear rhythm, music, new words, new ideas, absurdity, language play and knowledge introduced in a humorous way. Their imaginations crave new worlds with pathways to recognise and help them negotiate this one. They need to read to gain tools to be able to write. the caterpillar magazine is there to supply all this and more.

You can read more about it here.

Posted in Poetry Competition

Covid10 Poetry Competition Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the Covid19 Poetry competition, shortlisted by me, and judged by the wonderful Roger Stevens of PoetryZone!

As usual the standard was very high!

The three main first prizes of hardback poetry books go to:

Abhinaya Bahirathan, aged 10, for her wonderful poem The School of Emptiness, containing sighing corridors and weeping stationery. Fabulous Abhinaya!


The School of Emptiness


In the school of emptiness I can see

Stationery weeping for children to use them

The books on the shelves stare uncomfortably at the ground


In the school of emptiness I can hear

The loneliness of the corridors sigh sadly

The head teacher’s office looks unhappily at the door


In the school of emptiness I can feel

The walls crying softly for their children

The trays in the lunch hall waiting patiently for delicious food


In the school of emptiness I can smell

The emptiness of the playground

The vast emptiness of the assembly hall


In the school of emptiness I can taste

The sadness of the certificates  that have  not been given out

The unhappiness of the school closure


© Abhinaya Bahirathan


Samuel Arthur, aged 10, for his excellent Covid19 Abecedarious Poem. It is much harder than it looks to write one of these! Congratulations, Arthur.


Covid19 Abecedarious Poem


About three months ago the world changed

Because of the

Corona Virus, which has

Damaged lives, families and companies, affecting

Everyone, and restricting all of our movements.

Friends can only meet up online or on the phone. We’ll be

Glad to properly say


I miss my friends and sports, it’s no

Joke though, as people are dying.

“Keep safe!” they say,

“Look after yourself and your family, and

Make the most of every moment.”

No one is safe

On this planet.

People can enjoy spending time with their family in

Quarantine without

Rushing about like normal.

So stay inside and be safe.

Take the time you have together and

Understand the dangers in this

Very scary time.

Wash your hands especially well and use

eXtra soap to get rid of the germs.

You need to keep safe in your own



© Samuel Arthur


And lastly Jacob Nicholas, 10, with his lovely poem The Rainbow and his skilful use of rhyming – never using a forced rhyme. Well done, Jacob.


The Rainbow


School is shut and I miss my family and friends,

I am bored, I am lost, will this ever end?

“We have so much to be grateful for,”

Says my mum one sunny day.

“We live amongst beautiful countryside,

And have a garden in which to play.”

We go for a walk, to get some fresh air,

But I’m not in the mood, I don’t want to be there.

My sister is chattering and she is really annoying me,

“But you love me dearly!” she says cheekily.

The road is still and quiet. The sky is too.

There are no cars or planes. How can we go to where we want to?

There is no school, there are no day trips or holidays,

I’m just at home doing schoolwork and there is too much time to sit and laze.

We walk past my school and it stands still and empty,

When I suddenly spy a rabbit and it looks at me gently.

Our walk carries on, it shows no sign of ending,

But then I spot a rainbow sign, a message of hope it is sending.

I stop for a moment, I need to stop and think,

Is my mum really right? I look up and blink.

The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining brightly,

The flowers are in bloom and the lambs are dancing lightly.

I then turn to mum and I quietly say,

“How lucky we are to be safe and well today.”


© Jacob Nicholas


And seven second prizes go to:

Lilly Nolan, 10, with her thoughtful poem. Lovely description, ‘delirious blue’, Lilly.


The Small Things


Before all this, I could

Lay upon golden grains of sand,

Glide along the deep, delirious blue,

Climb across limpet-spread rocks.


Before all this, I could have

A warm, comforting hug

From my old, loving grandad.


Before all this, I could

Laugh with my friends, while

Swinging in the playground, while

Dawdling, waiting for the school bus –

During lockdown

The only way to see a loved one

Is on a screen.


Before all this,

I think I took

The small things

For granted.


© Lilly Nolan, 10


And Iestyn Preddy, 11, for these wonderful descriptive images such as ‘casting dandelion clocks’ .


Things I Didn’t Know I Loved


I didn’t know that I loved the turn of a page

Whilst sat on an uncomfortable plastic chair

Neither did I know I adore the satisfaction of disrupting nature,

Casting dandelion clocks with their parachute-like seeds,

Floating through the air.


I never thought I’d miss the lessons of art,

Even though I can’t make a page explode with colour,

Explode with imagination, explode with detail.

I never, ever thought I’d miss even my family,

Even though we talk all the time,

I still feel a longing.


I thought I would miss the weekly games of football,

But it turns out I don’t, I miss other things.

I definitely thought that I would long for a proper maths lesson,

But it turns out I don’t, I miss other things.


But the most important thing I miss is




© Iestyn Preddy, 11


Summer Janssens – well done Summer, we loved this detailed description of the sounds and sights in your school life, they really brought your poem alive!


School Life Before Covid19


Listening to the scribbling sound when we do our work,

Listening to the tweeting of the birds in our playground,

Listening to the munching noise when children eat apples at break,

Listening to the lovely voice of Miss Welch when she is teaching.

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Covid-19.


Playing basketball with my friends during PE lessons,

Playing fun games with Miss Harris at Sunshine Club,

Playing Hangman with a bunch of friends at golden time,

Playing Hide and Seek without getting lost in the playground.

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Convid-19.


Looking at the sugary doughnuts afterschool in Krispy Kreme,

Looking at the beautiful butterflies fluttering in the Prayer Garden,

Looking at the colourful posters hanging in up in the corridors,

Looking at the shimmering trophies on the shelves,

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Covid-19.


© Summer Janssens, 7


Euan Cameron-Mitchell – excellent use of smell to conjure a place, well done.




I didn’t know I’d miss the warm food smells of the school canteen

and the comfy pillow like the smell of the car on a long journey.

I didn’t know I’d miss the taste of my fresh packed lunch and a

warm Waitrose chocolate chip cookie.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sound of Fizz playing with her doggy friends

and the screams of school playtime.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sight of cars flying by on a busy road

and my friends’ friendly faces.

I didn’t know I’d miss the touch of the metal chain ropes when sitting on a swing

and my grandparents’ hugs.


© Euan Cameron-Mitchell, 9


Carys Davies, 10 –  a wonderful wistfulness in this poem, Carys, and spare description such as ‘the splash on rocks at Angle’. We all know you mean the sea, it doesn’t have to be mentioned.


One Day


I didn’t know I’d miss the shouting at dinner time,

The deafening squeal of children.

I didn’t know I loved the boiling hot sand on the beaches,

Trembling across the shining gold, burning my feet.

Who knew that I’d long to sit by granny,

Chatting about my day?

I never thought I’d miss begging for ice cream,

Listening for the ringing of the ice cream van.


But I don’t miss the sudden shout, calling

WAKE UP!!! at seven in the morning.

And I don’t miss the many cars,

Rumbling up and down the road.

Nor do I miss the trudge around Tesco,

On a rainy afternoon.


Oh, one day

I will hear the splash on rocks at Angle,

I will smell a juicy burger heading my way,

I will stroke the fur of Rocky,

The new poodle.

I will taste fresh raspberries from the hedgerow,

And I will see my cousins once again…

One day.


© Carys Davies, 10


Ria Burton, 11 – very nice feeling of the freedom that is still there, waiting, in the culminating lines of this poem, Ria – ‘the gannets will keep on diving’.


Things I Long For


I didn’t know I loved the sound of lunch time bickering,

The little bits of chat catching in my ears.

I didn’t know I loved the taste of chlorine in my mouth,

Lingering long after lessons at the pool.

I never thought I’d miss the endless maths session,

The numbers speaking to me in a weird language.

I never thought I’d miss the lumbering school bus,

Its suspension always seemingly broken.

Who knew that I’d long for the ringing of the raspy bell,

Signalling the end of break?

But as I long to set eyes upon my friends,

I know the clouds will blow past

The gannets will keep on diving

and we’ll have these moments again.


© Ria Burton, 11


Arthur Davies – great close attention to the detail of a school day in your poem, Arthur – ‘The clunking of chairs and tables colliding’. Something we don’t really notice, let alone as something to be missed!


Things I Didn’t Know I Loved


I didn’t know I loved looking for a café in a small country town,

The comforting texture of fish and chips.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sound of pastries at dinner time,

And the cheering sound of lunchboxes opening.

I never thought I’d miss the annoying talking at the back of the class,

The clunking of chairs and tables colliding.

I didn’t know I loved sitting on benches,

with sparrows chirping in my ear.

I never knew I loved sitting on Granny’s old, patched couch,

With Pixie laying on my knee.

Although I miss hugging Granny,

I know that the benches will stay

And so will the fish and chips.

One day we will have them

Once again.


© Arthur Davies, 11


Huge congratulations to all our winners! Your books should soon be on their way.

Posted in Funny Poem a Day

Purrfect, by Liz Brownlee

Today we have a shape poem, and an animation – thank you to animator Nick Hales who animated the kitten so beautifully!

If you fancy writing a poem yourself, why not enter my Covid19 poetry competition? Details link in the side bar, or a couple of posts down from here!


What looks like half a cat?

¡ɟlɐɥ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɥʇ

Posted in Funny Poem a Day

Funny Poem a Day – Limerick, by Colin West

As you can see, Lola is extremely good at making paper boats, and origami in general. VERY unlike the hero of Colin West‘s poem, below… Colin is a great favourite here on Poetry roundabout, thank you Colin!


There once was a fellow from Tonga
Who should have made very much stronga
His newspaper boat
Which didn’t quite float,
And that’s why this rhyme isn’t longa.
© Colin West
How does the ocean say hello?
¡sǝʌɐʍ ʇI
Do you want to write a limerick? Limericks are usually funny. The humour often comes from the rhyme.

Limericks are always five lines long.

Lines 1, 2 and 5 have the same rhyme, and are longer than lines 3 and 4.

Lines 1, 2 and 5 have a rhythm that goes : duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM

Lines 3 and 4 rhyme have a different rhyme.

Lines 3 and 4 also have a different rhythm: duh DUM duh duh DUM

This is the rhythm of the limerick written out:

duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM

duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM

duh DUM duh duh DUM

duh DUM duh duh DUM

duh DUM duh duh DUM duh duh DUM

See if you can write one! They are great fun. Here is another one:


Ducks’ quacks all sound the same. How do they tell whether it is their quack or not if they are all quacking at the same time?

Ducks quack as they’re to-ing and fro-ing,

So they must have some way of knowing,

if a quack is the quack

of a friend quacking back

or their own quack coming and going.



Posted in Funny Poem a Day

A Funny Poem a Day: Have a Laugh, by Neal Zetter

It doesn’t take much to make Lola laugh, a tickle, the sight of delicious, tasty morsels of meat… or if you tell her a joke. Of course, she doesn’t have the distinction of being named after a laugh. That is reserved for the chi-hua-hua-hua… Anyhoo, today’s poem to make you chuckle comes from Neal Zetter, thank you Neal! You can find my favourite of Neal’s books here. It is about superheroes!

Have a Laugh

Have a chuckle
Have a giggle
Till your belly bobs and jiggles
Go on – act completely daft
Have a laugh
Ha! Ha! Ha!

You’ll feel jolly
You’ll feel cheery
When your day is dull and dreary
Don’t sing in your shower or bath
Have a laugh
Ha! Ha! Ha!

Ha! Ha! Ha!
He! He! He!
Try a bit of comedy
Laugh, laugh, laugh
Have a laugh!
Ha! Ha! Ha!

Make a smirk
Make a smile
Keep on grinning all the while
Like hyenas
Not giraffes
Have a laugh
Ha! Ha! Ha!

Why be grumpy?
Why be moody?
When you’re down and bored and broody
Reach out to your happy half
Have a laugh
Ha! Ha! Ha!

Ha! Ha! Ha!
He! He! He!
Melt away your misery
Laugh, laugh, laugh
Have a laugh!
Ha! Ha! Ha!

© Neal Zetter

Here is Neal with his dog, Hugo, who looks very like Lola!

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Dom Conlon: Favourite Children’s Poetry Books

Number 19 in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is Dom Conlon, known for his ‘out of this world’ space poems! He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. Dom launched onto the children’s poetry scene with Astro Poetica, illustrated by Jools Wilson, a lovely collection of poems inspired by space. Since then he has been published in magazines and anthologies whilst performing and teaching in schools and libraries around the North West. His new collection of poems about the moon, This Rock, That Rock, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, Pub. Troika, is out in March. Some of Dom’s work can be read here.

All of the books for children I’ve selected are from my own childhood. Without exception they helped guide me towards the imagination as surely as any books about Narnia, Middle Earth or The Foundation did but more than a novel did, they gave me the tools to understand my heart. They continue to in one way or another but are now helped by the many amazing poets who write today and who I’ve come to call friends.

For children:

Moon Whales

Ted Hughes was a major influence on me, along with Plath, Larkin, Eliot and Cummings, back when I was studying for my A Levels but this collection for children remains a touchstone for my writing. I keep the edition illustrated by Chris Riddell close by. Moon Whales is a sweeping exploration of imagination and emotion. Funny, horrific, melancholic and strange, it shows the power of poetry.

Rhymes Without Reason

Mervyn Peake’s writing, art and life captivated me in my teens and never let go. Rhymes Without Reason is a beautifully produced collection in every sense. The number of poems is kept to a minimum (no filler here) and each one is a gateway to wonder, helped in no small part by the paintings Peake made.

The Hunting of the Snark

Epic poems for children delight me (allow me to briefly point you towards Dr Seuss and Robert Paul Weston) and here Lewis Carroll channels all his Alice and Jabberwocky magic. The edition I own is illustrated by Mervyn Peake and the partnership delivers something rich and ancient.

The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear

Over the years I’ve lost sight of Lear and his undisputed contribution to children’s poetry. His limericks don’t sing to me as they once did. And yet I’m choosing this book for three vital reasons: the first is The Owl and the Pussycat, the second is The Pobble, and the third is the most compelling reason of them all—the illustrations. John Vernon Lord’s edition is an explosion of inspiration.

For adults:

The Republic of Motherhood

Pick any collection by Liz Berry and you’re in for a treat but I’m going to settle on this slim pamphlet. I pressed it into poet Matt Goodfellow’s sweaty palms recently and his reaction proved I will never regret recommending it. Berry’s ability is extraordinary, her love of words delightful. She focuses place and memory through the lens of dialect and always leaves a mark.

For everyone:

This Rock That Rock

Viviane Schwarz and I have worked hard on putting together this collection and making sure the words and pictures are as inseparable as the Earth and the Moon. It contains fifty poems about the once and future moon, drawing upon personal history and scientific curiosity whilst never forgetting the fun and wonder. And because (as my teachers always told my parents) Dom Can Never Stop Talking… there are chapters where I talk about poetry and art too.

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

A. F. Harrold: Favourite Poetry Books

A.F. Harrold is a children’s author and children’s poet who writes and performs for both grown ups and children. He can often be found in school halls pointing at children and sharing his poems, and even more often in the bath, thinking them up… His latest wonderful poetry book is Midnight Feasts, illustrated by Katy Riddell, and  Things You Find in a Poet’s Beard, illustrated by Chris Riddell is in my favourite colour.  A. F.’s Website is here and Twitter here.

Come Hither, ed. Walter de la Mare (1923) – a delicious and delightful anthology (obviously somewhat dated now!), made superbly special by de la Mare’s glosses, essays and unrelated rambles in the notes which make up a full half of the book.

Silly Verse for Kids, Spike Milligan (1959) – one of the few books I still own from my own childhood. The most memorable nonsense and wordplay, enlivened by Milligan’s own drawings.

The Gloomster, Ludwig Bechstein (translated by Julia Donaldson), illustrated by Axel Scheffler – just one poem, and not a particularly long one, but a beautiful melancholy-funny one. Scheffler and Donaldson’s magic continues to work, even here, in 19th century German poetry.

Cloud Busting, Malorie Blackman (2004), illustrated by Helen van Vliet – a verse novel that is moving, wise, not for aimed at older readers and actually made of poems for a reason. It’s about friends and being weird and loss and all the things books are about, and deserves to be read in one sitting.

If You Could See Laughter, Mandy Coe (2010) – a very fine poet, this, her first children’s collection, is full of poems firing off in all directions, sparky and lively and filled with a deft raft of poet’s-eye imagery. Good stuff.

Midnight Feasts, ed. A.F. Harrold (2019) – I put together this collection of poems all themed around food and drink because it was the sort of thing I wanted to read. I think it’s a good spread of delciousness.

A.F. Harrold.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Lie Poem by Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons was born in Parsons Green, London, but, disappointingly, was not the son of a parson. After studying dentistry at London University (he decided it was not for him) he had a variety of jobs including being a postman. He has written poetry since his postman days and for the last twenty years has written for children as well. He has had poems in dozens of anthologies and in 2011 had his first children’s collection, Hear Here (illustrated by Lucy Creed) published –  available here! He also writes poems for greetings cards. This is his website.


Lying Around


Lying on the beach

lying in the sun

lying on a lounger

lying having fun.

Lying by the water’s edge

lying in the foam

couldn’t go to school that day

lying ill at home.


Lying in department stores

lying, she was caught

lying in a cell before

lying in the court.

Lying to the magistrate

she was nowhere near the crime

lying she was on the beach

lying all the time.


© Trevor Parsons

Thank you for this excellent poem, Trevor!