Posted in Poet's Piece

Starting with Firsts, by Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz writes for adults and children. She loves going in to schools to get pupils, teachers and parents writing their own poems – a film of her poetry residency at Highfield Primary School is wonderful viewing on her website. Her popular collection of poems about home, school and everything in between, Can It Be About Me?, illustrated by Ros Asquith, is published by Janetta Otter-Barry Books. Her website is here.

Here is a wonderful piece by Cheryl about poetic inspiration.

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Starting with Firsts

 

Remember all your firsts? Of course you do. First taste of a mushroom, first sight of snow, first pet dying, first hold of a new born baby, first poem you ever wrote? Maybe you don’t remember these things exactly, but there is something about the first time we do or experience anything that goes inside us and stays there, not just as a memory but as a feeling, a sense, a quality, a je ne sais quois. That is because our first encounter with people, things, places and experiences is usually more heightened than similar ones that come after.  These internalised moments, these ‘firsts’ let’s call them, are what shape us from the very moment we’re born and keep on shaping us – they are also what make up the well that poets draw from when writing their poetry.

Life deals its fair share of firsts, some will be awe-inspiring (the first time we see a rainbow) some wonderful (the first time you win a prize) and some desperately sad and difficult (the first time you have to move away from a home, a school or a country that you love). In truth, almost every day, each of us will experience at least one new thing we have never experienced before. Even if it is only the fact of being one day older than the day before.

Not every first experience will inspire a poem but the ones that really matter, might. I would encourage any budding poet to take note of those moments as they happen. Write down what you notice, and how it makes you feel, even if the feelings are a little bit sad. I love this poem by the Canadian poet Alden Nowlan, in which a father expresses his pride at how his son has managed his first real experience of loss by writing a poem.

 

JOHNNY’S POEM

 

Look! I’ve written a poem!

Johnny says

and hands it to me

and it’s about

his grandfather dying

last summer, and me

in the hospital

and I want to cry,

don’t you see, because it doesn’t matter

if it’s not very good:

what matters is he knows

and it was me, his father, who told him

you write poems about what

you feel deepest and hardest.

 

© Alden Nowlan

 

Article © Cheryl Mokowitz

 

Posted in World Book Day

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day – here is a tiger poem to celebrate!

Tiger

You who
are meant as
part of
the forest,
marked in each
sleek stretch
of soft-pawed pace
bold black
like the living trees
against the sun,
no matter
how deep
you go,
as each tree falls,
your stripes,
your bones
will also.

 

© Poem and Illustration, Liz Brownlee

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!

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How to paint a Chinese dragon

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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.

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© Liz Brownlee

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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 Endangered Animal, Lego Poem

Whale Poems Wanted!

Here’s my Lego blue whale – please read the information after the poem about the danger they are in. Send me you Lego animal photo and maybe I’ll write a poem about it! Here is my blue whale poem:

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Lone Blue Whale

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Far out at sea

where waves clash and toss

and the wide sky holds

just one albatross,

where light surrounds

and the winds blow long,

this is where you hear

the lone whale’s song,

 

horizon to horizon

winding on and on,

 

the air’s too weak

to carry the sound

of the pulses and cries

in the water around,

the beat of its heart’s song

has oceans to cross,

under a wide sky

and albatross,

 

and only the lone whale

that swims wild and free

has a love song as large

as the wide green sea.

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© Liz Brownlee

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The Japanese Government has indicated that they are going to allow commercial killing of whales to start again. Many whales are still endangered, and all sea life is battling against plastic in the water.

Fabulous author, poet and animal lover Nicola Davies asks: “Calling all uk children and their teachers. Please send your best whale pictures and poems to The Japanese Embassy to protest against the decision to start hunting whales again”.

If you would like to do this, please tweet, blog and also send the poems to:

Ambassador Koji Tsuri

Embassy of Japan

101-104 Piccadilly

Mayfair

London W1J 7JF

Posted in Lego Poem

Lego Poetry Challenge

This year I will be making Lego models of animals and writing a poem for them, or adding an already written poem to them.

Send me a picture of your Lego or building block animal and perhaps I’ll show it or write a poem to go with it!

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Christmas Robin

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The spirit of joy

is a bird,

 

bright eyes,

star feet,

 

the colours

of wild things,

free,

 

its song

the art

of giving,

 

its red breast

a heart

.

© Liz Brownlee

PoetryZone Competition – get your entries in!

Roger Stevens is asking for Christmas poems on PoetryZone – “It can be a funny poem about reindeer on the roof, Grandad hanging up his socks for Santa or Mum dropping the Christmas pud. It can be sad. (Not everyone has a happy Christmas. Think about the homeless or refugees.) Or it could be serious. How about writing a prayer for peace? Your poem might be religious – Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus – or about other aspects of the festive season. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, send us a poem about the holidays or all about winter.”

For young people between the ages of 3-18. Details on how to enter here.

Posted in Poetry Celebration/Anniversary

Poetry Zone – a Celebration of 20 years of Children’s Poetry!

Last night in London, in the setting of the CLPE‘s wonderful library, was the FABULOUS party to mark the 20th anniversary of PoetryZone, the website started by the wonderful poet Roger Stevens, and the publishing of the excellent book above by way of celebration.

PoetryZone has supported and encouraged many generations of children in their poetry by giving them arena to post their poems, see them published, and get feedback – it is a wonderful resource for young poets everywhere; it has had more than a MILLION visitors in its 20 years on the web!.

PoetryZone, a Celebration of 20 Years of Children’s Poetry, is published by Troika, and is chock-full of Roger’s favourite poems by a number of top children’s poets – and also some mind-blowing poems by some of the 30,000 children who have had their work published on the PoetryZone website.

The night was a happy mix of lovely children’s poets (a whole boatload of whom turned up to help celebrate and honour Roger) and poetry, with readings from the poets present, including me, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Laura Mucha, James Carter, Andrea Shavick, Trevor Parsons, Coral Rumble, Celia Warren, John Agard, and of course, Roger himself.

A very lovely evening indeed.

 

Young Northern Writer Award

This award of £200 is for a young writer aged 12–18. The young person can write in any creative form including prose, poetry, scriptwriting, blogging, songwriting and rap.

There is one award in this category, although up to two writers may also be highly commended.

Applications are accepted in two ways:

Through nomination from an adult working with the young person, or by application directly from the young person.

You can find out more, including submission guidelines and information on eligibility criteria, by visiting the Northern Writers’ Awards site, here.

Posted in Poetry Awards

Apes to Zebras, Winner of the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2018 for Poetry

Award winning children's poetry
Apes to Zebras, by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, Award Winner!

There aren’t many awards for children’s to poetry so it’s pretty special to win one of them!

I’m thrilled to announce, with Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, that we have won this year’s North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award for Poetry, which is voted on by teachers from North Somerset and all over the UK.

A huge thank you to all the teachers who took the trouble to read the entire shortlist and vote on them. What a special thing. We are overjoyed that our book is helpful and being used in schools.

Over the next few days I will be sharing videos of some of the poems from the book read by the authors.

Book Award