Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Philip Gross: Favourite Poetry Books

Number 11 in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is award winning poet, Philip Gross. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. The first book I read of Philip’s was Manifold Manor and I became an instant fan. Until recently he was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. He is a Quaker, and that special relationship between words and silence informs much of what he writes; poetry for adults and for children. Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, was the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. His new book, Dark Sky Park, Poems from the Edge of Nature illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry) is available here, and was also shortlisted for a CLiPPA  2019. His website is here.

This selection comes from the particular angle that is me. I guess everything here is a crossing point on the (supposed) border between children’s and adult poetry.

Charles Causley, Figgie Hobbin (1970)

This was the book that made it possible for me to write poetry for young people. Causley was a poet who wrote adult poems that could be intriguing to young people in the way that folk tales are… and, in this book, children’s poems that make adults stop and think –  deceptively easy to read, with a strangeness that lasts. 

T.S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939)

I’m not worried that much of the world these poems have such fun with is far away back in another century. Even writing from ten years ago is ancient history when you’re nine years old. What matters is the irresistible larkiness of the language, that makes yoy feel part of its world by sheer rhythms and richness of words. 

Helen Dunmore, Secrets (1994)

Such is the sadly late Helen Dunmore’s reputation as a novelist for adults and children, and as an adult poet, that it’s easy to overlook this slim, superb and subtle contribution to children’s poetry. It seems even more valuable now in this extraverted age as a reminder that young people have a right to rich interior lives.

Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, The Rattle Bag (1982)

The radical thing about this anthology, compiled by two great poets, was that it has no apparent order, no mission to instruct us or promote a particular style. They simply chose their favourite poems, mixed them up together and opened the doors to people of all ages, saying, Poetry is all of this, and more. Welcome in. 

Philip Gross, Manifold Manor (1989)

Some books come as a surprise even to their own writer, with the feeling that they’ve stumbled into an unsuspected small world and are simply discovering it. This was one of those. Incidentally it is a set of writing prompts and models, an invitation to join in, and a celebration of how our imaginations are haunted by real history. 

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day! Lies Poem from Philip Gross.

It’s National Poetry Day! Hip, hip hooray! This fabulous poem today is from Philip Gross, whose life as a Quaker informs much of what he writes with its special relationship between words and silence. His work includes poetry for adults and for children, thought-provoking fiction for young people, schools opera libretti, radio short stories and plays. His children’s poetry includes The All-Nite Café, illustrated by Claire Fletcher, which won the Signal Award, and Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. His latest book, Dark Sky Park (Otter Barry), illustrated by Jesse Hodgson, was nominated for a CLiPPA this year. 

 

White Ones

 

with small scritchety claws

and pink

shortsighted blink-

ing-in-the-sunlight

eyes that looked raw

as if they’d cried all night…

 

One morning they were gone.

 

On holiday,

says Dad. Gone to stay

with their friends

in the pet shop. And so I pretend

I don’t know about the cage door

he left open. I try to ignore

 

the look on the face of the cat.

 

It isn’t that

wakes me up in the darkness. No,

it’s the scritch and the scratch

at the bars, those pink-eyed

lies. They’re only little

white ones, oh

 

but watch them breed and grow.

 

 © Philip Gross  (first published in Off Road To Everywhere (Salt, 2009)

 

Thank you for the fabulous poem, Philip Gross!

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Pie Corbett: Favourite Poetry Books

Seventh in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is Pie Corbett. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. Pie is an English educational trainer, writer, author, anthologist and poet who has written over two hundred books. He is now best known for creating Talk for Writing which is a teaching programme that supports children as storytellers and writers. Pie is a wonderful and dedicated supporter of children’s writing and children’s poets.

Favourite Poetry books

The Magic Box by Kit Wright brings together all of his beautifully crafted poems for children. He is just at home being funny as he is when dealing with deeper emotions. It contains his classic poem ‘The Magic Box’ which always works as a catalyst for children’s writing. A must for every Key Stage 2 classroom.

Manifold Manor by Philip Gross is one of the finest poetry books written for children in the last 50 years. Each poem is a game and invites children into writing. Wonderfully crafted and richly imagined. Enter the Manor and play.

Poetry in the Making by Ted Hughes is an anthology of poems with extensive notes about teaching writing. As a teacher, this book helped me to understand how to teach children to closely observe the truth of experience and use words to capture and preserve their lives. Read this alongside his powerful Collected Poems for Children.

Collected Poems for Children by Charles Causley is rich with wonderful pickings. No one else writes quite like Causley, the master balladeer whose poems sound as if they are ancient folk songs sprung his own mythical world.

England – poems from a school edited by Kate Clanchy contains poems by secondary children from one school in a ‘challenging’ area. It shows just what should be bread and butter in every English department. This is the real thing – beautifully evocative poetry and should inspire every teacher.

Evidence of Dragons contains my own poems, many of which arose from writing with, alongside and for children. I hope that any teacher could take this book and find poetic ideas to use as a springboard into children’s own poetic responses.

The Mersey Sound has poems by Brian Patten, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough being playful, political and romantic. It was the book that first gave me the idea that I could write. It is of its time but I am grateful to the poems for helping me begin to find my own writing voice.

© Pie Corbett 2019

 

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Sue Hardy-Dawson; My Favourite Poetry Books

My Favourite Books of Poems

Here is the third in a series where I ask children’s poets what their favourite poetry books are – they must choose 5-8 books, one of their own, and they can if they wish choose a book of poems for adults, too. Welcome this week to lovely Sue Hardy-Dawson!

My house is full of books, far more than my long suffering family think anyone should have. Of those I suspect roughly two thirds are poetry. I thought I would enjoy doing this and I did, but oh dear choosing eight, that was agony. I have many talented poet friends, far more than eight. So I elected not to choose from them, an impossible choice. Instead I’ve gone with poets either dear and departed, or books that had a profound effect on me.

I’m going to start at the very beginning with A A Milne, I’m cheating a bit because I have a book with both When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six in. I might as well because a friend stole my individual copies so I feel exonerated in this. My dad at bedtime used to act out The Dormouse and the Doctor and The King’s Breakfast. I could go on. I loved them the whole experience was so sensory, so loved and cuddly. Definitely the beginning of my lifelong love of poetry.

My next choice is 4 O’CLOCK on Friday. John Foster just somehow put together a wonderful anthology. I could write a whole article on John’s anthologies. I give mention to the First Book, 2nd Book etc series. I love them so.

Manifold Manor, Philip Gross, is my next choice. I love everything about it. Again sensory and there’s something wonderful about Chris Riddell’s understated yet mystical ravens.

My next choice is The Best of Ted Hughes, I fell in love with his Thought Fox when I was fourteen. It’s an indelible memory of a sticky hot June class room from which I escaped into a midnight snowy garden and the hot stink of fox. I confess my copy is stained and has loose pages. It has traveled with me on almost every holiday I’ve ever been on.

My next choice is The Oldest Girl in the World, Carol Anne Duffy. Again wonderfully synaesthetic poetry. It encapsulates myths and fairytales, one I often return to.

My next is a book that I think deserved much more recognition than it got, The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poetry. This is just gorgeous, the full stunning illustrations alone are enough to merit its inclusion. But Celia Warren has created a beautifully balanced collection here. One for all the family to enjoy for years.

My next is To Catch an Elephant, by the late great Bradford Laureate, Gerard Benson. What can I say about these beautiful, fun and poignant poems. I hear his river voice in all of them. If you haven’t come across him it’s well worth a look. His poetry for both adults and children is just joyous.

So these are just a few of the books that I keep by my bed, that I often dip into. I count myself very lucky to do what I do, my child self would never have thought it possible. Where Zebras Go, my first collection, was published by Otter-Barry Books in 2017. But I’m conscious I owe almost all of this to the wonderful legacy of poets I was introduced to by my father, by enthusiastic teachers and by wonderful, kind and talented poet friends who also encouraged and championed me.

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

G is for Children’s Poet Philip Gross, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

.

Philip Gross

Philip Gross was born in Delabole, north Cornwall. Until recently he was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. He is a Quaker, and that special relationship between words and silence informs much of what he writes; poetry for adults and for children, thought-provoking fiction for young people, schools opera libretti, radio short stories and plays. His children’s poetry includes The All-Nite Café, illustrated by Claire Fletcherwhich won the Signal Award, and Off Road To Everywhere, illustrated by Jonathan Gross, the winner of the CLiPPA (CLPE) poetry award 2011. Philip’s work enabling poetry in schools over thirty years has often been site-specific, working for many years with the National Trust in Cornwall on their Arts In Trust scheme. His new book, Dark Sky Park, Poems from the Edge of Nature illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry) is available soon, here. His website is here.

.

Here is one of Philip’s fabulous poems:

.

Ways of Conquering Everest

.

… at all, the first time, ever

… by the direct route, in winter

… solo

… without oxygen or breathing apparatus

… travelling light

 

… all of the above, but barefoot

… without toes

… in secret, like under the bedclothes,

with a torch, by night

 

… blindfold, trusting your guide

extremely

… without maps, or GPS, or compass

… without a clue

 

… very politely, in the English fashion: after

            you; no, after you

… or if even that feels awkward, then

forming an orderly queue

 

… the whole family, together

(under 4s come free)

… in the amateur way: did I climb that? Oh!

as if accidentally

 

… as a tourist, in appalling shorts,

only here for the view

… in swimming costumes or

… sky-streaking

(very quickly, and completely nude)

 

… by mountain bike

… by yak

… by yeti

… by hook or by crook

… by the skin of your teeth

 

… by an enormous catapult, fired by a hundred sherpas

from the valley miles beneath

 

… in high heels      .

… in fun-furry slippers

… in princessy pink

 

… by extreme patience, with global warming,

without ice (and sooner than you think)

 

… piggy-back

… wheelbarrow-fashion

… as a three-legged race

… abseiling from a hot air balloon

… skydiving from the edge of space

 

… by none of the above,

I mean, let’s not go to extremes

… when no one is looking,

not even yourself

… in your dreams

.

© Philip Gross (from Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry Books, 2018)

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