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!

Posted in Poetry News

Children’s Poetry Summit Launches Blog for Children’s Poetry Professionals

The Children’s Poetry Summit is a UK network of individuals and organisations actively interested in poetry for children. It provides a regular forum for discussion, information exchange, and sharing of ideas, and a pressure group which campaigns for children’s poetry. Members are children’s poets, publishers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, organisations and individuals interested in children’s poetry. It was founded by Chris Holifield, who was Poetry Book Society director, and is now director of the T S Eliot Prize, and Gaby Morgan, children’s editor and children’s poetry editor at Macmillan.

They meet a few times a year in London (I am a member), and exchange information and ideas about raising the profile of children’s poetry, creating opportunities on behalf of poetry for children through publishing, bookselling, schools etc.; and of course also support and promote the writing of poetry for children.

They have a new website where you will find fascinating blogs over the year, every Thursday- not just the poets, but publishers, librarians, Forward Arts (who organise National Poetry Day), and every conceivable organisation that helps promote poetry for children, that is also represented on the Summit. Occasionally there will also be guest blogs.

Why not have a look? At the moment there are blogs by Michael Rosen, Cheryl Moskowitz, Brian Moses, Roger Stevens, Laura Mucha, Teresa Cremin, Rachel Rooney, and this weeks blog by Janetta Otter-Barry (links are to blogs, performances or entries on the A-Z of Children’s Poets on this blog).

So – if you don’t follow Poetry Roundabout, please do so if you are interested in everything Children’s Poetry related, and whether you are an adult writer of poetry for children, a young writer of poetry, a fan of children’s poetry, teacher, or an industry professional, please also follow Children’s Poetry Summit which will have a blog every Thursday.

Thanks to Chris Riddell for his lovely artwork which is the Children’s Poetry Summit logo.

Posted in Famous children's poets

Moonstruck!

I have rather a backlog of books to review… but this is one I will be reviewing, the new anthology of moon poems, Moonstruck by Roger Stevens, published by Otter-Barry and wonderfully illustrated by Ed Boxall. I caught a glimpse when we saw each other a little while ago when we were performing for the Teachers’ Book Group Conference. It was beautiful. Out in hardback in the US, and in paperback here soon.

Here’s Ed with some of his illustrated books at a book fair we met at a little while ago.

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:

.

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

.

© Zaro Weil

.

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; W is for Celia Warren

Celia Warren has been writing poetry ever since she learned to read, and has been published in hundreds of children’s anthologies. Her collections are all for young children and many of her poems and stories form infant readers in mainstream school reading programmes all over the world. 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.

Celia has sent two of her wonderful illustrations to go with her lovely poem!

.

 

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge, 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; V is for Vexing Rex by Joshua Seigal

Joshua Seigal is a London-based poet, performer and educator. He has three published books and has performed all over the world. He has held residencies at numerous schools, is an official National Poetry Day Ambassador, and was shortlisted for a National Literacy Trust Award and the Laugh Out Loud Award. Joshua works with children of all ages and abilities, as well as running training days for teachers and doing comedy and spoken word performances for grown ups. His website is here and his book, I don’t Like Poetry, illustrated by Chris Piascik, here. His latest book is I Bet I Can Make You Laugh, published by Bloomsbury and illustrated by Tim Wesson.

The poem Joshua has sent appears in I Bet I Can Make You Laugh (I bet he can!):

.

VexinRex

If you want to annoy my dog,

(and I mean really, really annoy him),

don’t bother taking his dinner.

He’ll look bemused, maybe let out

a whine, but he can handle it.

Nor is it any use to snatch his toy,

or to cut short his walk –

he’ll get confused, maybe sulk

for a time, but he’ll face it with patience.

No, if you want to really, really annoy my dog

just blow

           very softly

                  on his head.

He’ll bristle and yelp

and bat the breeze with his paws…

He’ll snuffle and yap

and snap the gust with his jaws…

If you want to really, really annoy my dog,

a tiny little puff or air

will get him as growly

as a grizzly bear.

And it isn’t just my dog:

if you want to really, really annoy my dad

just do what I do

and climb in bed with him,

on a Sunday morning,

and blow

           very gently

                  in his face…

.

© Joshua Seigal

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge post 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 A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZ Challenge, U is for Useless by A F Harrold

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 Things You Find in a Poet’s Beard, illustrated by Chris Riddell in my favourite colour.  A. F.’s Website is here and Twitter here.

Here is the brilliant poem beginning with ‘U’ that A. F. has sent for the Poetry Feast:

.

Useless

 

I feel as useful as a kipper that’s been kept in a kettle,

as useful as a conker in your socks,

as useful as a top hat that’s been stuffed with orange jelly

and then balanced on the head of a fox.

 

I feel as useful as an ostrich on the number eighteen bus,

as useful as a desert in a pool,

as useful as a sausage that you’ve asked for assistance

with the homework that you’ve brought home from school.

 

I feel as useful as a cabbage that’s learnt to play cricket,

as useful as a llama on the moon,

as useful as a trifle that is sitting on the sideboard

saying ‘Eat me’ out of sight of a spoon.

 

But enough about me,

let’s talk about you…

.

© A.F. Harrold

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ 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:

.

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 A to Z Challenge 2019

AtoZ Challenge; S is for 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, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. 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) won the prestigious NSTB award in 2018. Recent books include The Same Inside; poems about empathy and friendship (Macmillan 2018), The Waggiest Tails; poems written by dogs (Otter-Barry 2018) and I Am a Jigsaw; Puzzling Poems to Baffle your Brain (Bloomsbury 2019). A book just published is Moonstruck; an Anthology of Moon Poems (Otter-Barry), and in August there will be Be the Change; Poems About Sustainability (Macmillan) and a “best of” collection will be published later in 2019. Roger spends his time between the Loire, in France, and Brighton, where he lives with his wife and a very shy dog called Jasper.

.

Here is the funny poem Roger sent for the poetry feast:

.

Escape Plan

.

As I, Stegosaurus
stand motionless
in the Natural History museum
I am secretly planning
my escape.

At noon
Pterodactyl
will cause a diversion
by wheeling around the museum’s high ceilings
and diving at the curators and museum staff
while I
quietly slip out of the fire exit
and melt
into the Kensington crowds

.

© Roger Stevens

From The Monster That Ate the Universe, Macmillan 2004

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

If you’d like to blog hop to another AtoZ Challenge post please try this link.

Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZ Challenge; R is for Coral Rumble

Coral Rumble 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. She performs and gives workshops art centres, books shops, libraries, theatres and festivals. Her website is here.

Here is the lovely poem Coral has sent for the Poetry Feast – it also has an ‘R’ in the title!

.

LOOKING FOR RILEY

Riley had dragged the emptiness to school.
It would seem wrong to leave it in his bedroom
Where he had filled silent spaces with sobs.
Grandma had gone, but her songs hung in the air,
Small memories, pockets of comfort.

And now, in a dusty corner of the PE cupboard,
Riley sat and rocked and clutched his knees,
Resting his chin on his shiny, worn trousers
Stretching over his bent legs, hiding away
From questions he’d be asked, but couldn’t answer.

They were all looking for Riley, the teachers, Mrs Moore.
They would try to wipe his grief away, catch his tears
Before they hit the ground, before they made a mark
In the dust, before they stopped falling of their own accord.
So I hid with him, and somehow, it made him smile.

 

© Coral Rumble

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge post 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 A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZ Challenge; Q is for Queens by Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins is an award-winning poetry writer for children and adults. She has been visiting schools as a poet for over 20 years, is an experienced teacher and has read at festivals all over Great Britain. Chrissie has written 5 children’s poetry collections. Now You See Me, Now You…, illustrated by Gunnlavg Moen, and I Don’t Want an Avocado, illustrated by Kev Adamson, were shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award, and Stars in Jars, A&C Black. Her latest book is Adder, Bluebell, Lobster, illustrated by Paul Bommer. The children’s poetry page of her website is here.

This is the poem Chrissie has sent for Q – which appears in her book, Stars in Jars:

.

Queens

for Tess

.

One day, while out walking,

the Queen Of Asking Stupid Questions met

the Queen Of Stating The Obvious.

“Are you walking to Town?” asked the Queen Of Asking.

“This is such a long road,” said the Queen Of Stating,

peering at the spires in the distance.

The sky was purple and grey.

“Will it rain, do you think?” asked the Queen Of Asking.

“This umbrella is full of holes,” said the Queen of Stating.

Her curls dripped down her cheeks.

“Will it take long?” asked Asking.

“As long as it takes,” said Stating.

.

© Chrissie Gittins

 

If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge, 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