Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZChallenge; D is for Jan Dean

D in the Poetry Feast is Jan Dean – oh, Jan is fun. She is also a National Poetry Day Ambassador, writing poems in a tucked away corner of her 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 used to visit schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes, but has recently retired, however, she will never give up writing poems! 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). Jan’s website is here.

Jan gave me free reign to choose any of her poems so I chose one from The Penguin in Lost Property, because it is very typical of Jan’s wonderful sense of humour, and it made me laugh.

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Unsuccessful Pets

 

Given half a chance

A skink would slink off

 

In the blink of the eye of a lynx

A skink would skulk away

 

Yes, I think a skink would slink

Because I once had a skunk

 

And it slunk

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© Jan Dean

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If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge 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 International Womens Day

A Poem from Jan Dean on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

Jan Dean’s 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, and written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan.

This is one of her wonderful poems from Reaching the Stars.

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Advice to Rapunzel

 

Sort yourself out.

Don’t hang around

for someone else to rescue you.

 

Give yourself a trim.

Pick up the scissors,

it’s not rocket science.

 

Make a rope ladder.

Twist one. Plait one. Improvise.

Use your head for more than growing hair.

 

Escape.

Secure the ladder

Shimmy down and leg it.

 

Don’t look back.

Get clean away

Vamoose.  Stay loose.

 

And learn your lesson.

Staying put beneath a tyrant’s thumb

is dumb.

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© Jan Dean

 

Reaching the stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, can be bought here.

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 World Poetry Day

Happy #WorldPoetryDay! Celebrating with the mini-film, Poets are Everywhere!

Happy World Poetry Day!

To celebrate, here is a video of Poets are Everywhere, featuring poets Liz Brownlee, the late and wonderful Gerard Benson, Catherine Benson, Jane Clarke, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Andrea Shavick, Roger Stevens, and Philip Waddell. Written by the poets, with extra verses by Jan Dean, Michaela Morgan and Graham Denton. Filmed on location in Bristol, thanks to Blackwell’s Bookshop and Bristol City Museum.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay ‘Girls of the Week’ by Michaela Morgan

Girls of the Week

Monday’s girl stands up proud.
Tuesday’s girl speaks clear and loud.
Wednesday’s girl likes to dream and ponder.
Thursday’s girl loves to wander.
Friday’s child can be slow – or speedy.
Saturday’s child will help the needy.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
is as good as the rest in every way.

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© Michaela Morgan

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From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – The Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes

Bobby Riggs, a 1939 tennis champion, unwisely asserted that the female tennis game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him. In 1973, Billie Jean King, who fought constantly for recognition and equality for women in sport, accepted his challenge, determined to beat him. She felt it would set the progress of women back fifty years if she lost and affect all women’s self-esteem. In front of a worldwide television audience of almost fifty million, she beat him easily. The match was called ‘The Battle of the Sexes’.

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Bobby Riggs, tennis champ,

said a woman couldn’t

beat a man . . .

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Billie Jean King, tennis champ,

in three straight sets, showed

a woman can.

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© Liz Brownlee

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From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in Poetry in Education

Poetry Book for #InternationalWomensDay!

This is the one I’d recommend (unsurprisingly!). It was written by me, Jan Dean, and Michaela Morgan to chime with the 100th anniversaries of the work by suffragists from every walk of life.

Here’s the review in Lovereading4kids:

New poems by three of our brightest and liveliest poets are gathered together in this anthology which celebrates women and girls, lots of them. The lives of the really famous – Malala, Frida Kahlo, Amy Johnson, Hillary Rodham Clinton – are discussed, the roles of women in fairy tales debated, and the achievements of women whose names we’ll never learn acknowledged too. The poem styles are as varied as the book’s subjects, and there are poems to make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you think. It’s a sparkling collection, inspiring and empowering. Buy copies for all the young people in your life. ~ Andrea Reece

Since then it has won the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for Poetry.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade

#Suffragette100 Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls

Poems from the collection by Michaela Morgan and Liz Brownlee.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of SOME women getting the right to vote in the UK. Although things are much improved, amazingly, the struggle for equality (notably, and recently in the press, wage equality) is still going on.

Written to mark the suffragette anniversaries in the past year and this, Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls has proved extremely popular, particularly with teachers, in fact it recently won the N. Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for poetry.

It celebrates the lives of women through history who have made a difference to humanity in a myriad of ways – not just those women we have all heard of (From Boudica, through Anne Bonny the pirate, to Frida Khalo, Marie Curie, and Helen Keller to Malala Yousafzai and Hilary Clinton) but those that are much less known, or overlooked, or written out of history, or who will never be known… such as the ‘Unknown Worriers’, who kept the home fires burning. It also includes poems about feminism, and some modern young women who have made a difference in their communities.

Of course, there are a poems about the suffragettes – but, perhaps not surprisingly, many of women in the book (whilst they weren’t and were fighting the system to become doctors, scientists, fashion-reformers) also supported women’s suffrage.

Each poem is proceeded by a short biography of the person in the poem.

It seems the right day for sharing part of Jan Dean’s poem, Suffragette.

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Part of ‘Suffragette’

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I want to make my own choice.

I need to use my own voice

I won’t be silent, won’t ignore important things –

the world has queens as well as kings.

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And so I march, protest and claim my right

to take part in my country’s life.

I want what’s fair – to have my say

on who makes laws and who holds sway.

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© Jan Dean

Posted in Poet's Piece

Kick Start by Jan Dean

Jan Dean is the author of Wallpapering the Cat, Macmillan, A Penguin in Lost Property, Macmillan, (with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls Macmillan, (with me and Michaela Morgan).

She has also written two fiction books for children, but describes herself as “a poet who sometimes writes fiction, not a fictioneer who knocks of the occasional poem.”

Jan is great fun and a brilliant poet who works in schools – her projects have also included working with groups from Covent Garden’s innovative music theatre education programme in the Purcell School for gifted young musicians and writing in the environment with Northumberland schools. She has led workshops for both adults and children in Manchester, Liverpool and Chester Cathedrals, and has also run workshops at major festivals. 

Jan’s blog is here and her Twitter account is @glitterpoems

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Kick Start

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I hate grey weather. It makes me miserable. Sometimes I wonder if the weather has seeped inside my head and filled me up with fog… and when I feel like this I find it hard to write. So I have to kick-start the process. These are some of the things I do:

• Look out of a window and write down the first three/four things you notice, then go to another window and do the same. (You can do this for every window in the house if you like.)

• Say the words out loud to hear if there are any interesting sound patterns going on in the lists

• Visualise the things in the list to see if there are any striking colours/pictures.

• Write six or seven opening lines based on the list. (You don’t have to use everything and you can mix the lists up. Or you can write one verse about your room and one about a better/worse room.)

• Work up the best four into draft poems – be sure to weave your mood and any changes of feeling into the drafts. Remember that once you start writing you don’t have to stick to the ‘truth’ of what you saw. Making the words work is what counts.

I did this one from the list of stuff from my window. It might be finished. I won’t know for sure until I’ve put it away for a few weeks and then come back and re- read it.

Outside
Wren in the hedge. Hopping
like a brown ball. Stopping
for a second on the red brick wall.
I wish I had just an ounce
of your bounce…

Slug on the step. Sliding
smooth as oil. Gliding
by milk bottles then back to black soil.
Writing your route in slime
while I write mine in rhyme.

I did see a bird in the hedge – but it wasn’t a wren. And I did see a slug – but it wasn’t on the step. I changed what I saw to improve the sounds and rhythms in the poem. (My actual list was: Blue tit in hedge bouncing on branch. Bright blue car in road. Slug on ivy root. Recycling bag on gate.)

I’ve got a couple of other drafts to work on too – one about how sinister ivy is – the way it creeps and clings and takes over; and one about matching your day to the first thing you see when you open the curtains that might begin like this:

‘Today is a tin can day
a clattering day
a rolling away day

Today I am going to bang about
slam doors
howl under beds
and throw stuff….’

Or it might not. I’ll have to see how it goes.

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Jan Dean

Posted in Poetry Awards

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award Poetry Winner

There are few poetry awards for children’s poetry – but the Carnegie has some nominations this year, which is fabulous; Joe Coelho for Overheard in a Tower Block, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books), Michael Rosen for What is Poetry, illustrated by Jill Calder (Walker Books), and Kate Wakeling for Moon Juice, illustrated by Elīna Braslina (The Emma Press).

The main one is the CLPE, or the CLiPPA (The Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award), which is the only National award in the UK for published children’s poetry.

Winning a poetry award as you can imagine is something that happens very rarely and when it does, as you can imagine, children’s poets jump for joy.

So when Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, cover illustrated by Steph Says Hello (Macmillan), won the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for poetry this year, one of the people dancing was me.

North Somerset teachers love it, and are using it a lot, which means that teachers everywhere probably do – and that means a lot to us, as teachers really know what pupils like and want and need. We are thrilled.  *Jumps for joy*