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How to Fill a Pair of Stockings!

November 28, 2016

Thought I’d dedicate this blog to a couple of poetry books that have come out in the past few weeks that I think would make great additions to any child’s Christmas list, or adults’ shopping for children.

First, one that has been put together by prolific anthologist John Foster in aid of research in Oxford into Parkinson’s Disease. Four years ago, my 92-year-old mother died after years of living with the condition, so it’s a research fund dear to my heart. The book is called Christmas Crackers and is full of jokes, riddles and poetry. It’s also illustrated by some of the best-known and well-loved artists Gerald Scarfe, Korky Paul and Alex Brychta. You can find out more and order it directly by clicking here.

Next, don’t miss Roger Stevens’s latest anthology Is this a Poem? published by Bloomsbury. Another perfect stocking filler – especially for children who like trying their hand at writing their own poems as well as reading work from the best of poets writing for children today. (Well, the book includes two of my own, so I would say that, wouldn’t I!) It’s altogether a lovely book that would be off the shelf more than on it. Buy it and find out what makes a poem and how YOU can write one.

Have a Haunting Hallowe’en

October 31, 2016

halloween-celia-warren-2016

It begins with a shiver, a stir in the breeze.
You bravely joke, Someone’s walking over my grave!
But there’s a tingle up your spine,
and the whine of a dog that isn’t there,
which, perhaps, you imagined.

It continues with a whisper, you can’t make out.
You boldly joke, I’m hearing voices!
But the hairs on your arm stand on end
and you feel the touch of a hand that isn’t there,
which, perhaps, is all in your mind.

Then you remember, it’s Hallowe’en,
and you think of everyone you’ve ever known
who is no longer here. And you wonder.
But you know in your heart, that if there are ghosts,
souls, who didn’t hurt you in life, why should they start now?

And you hang on to those Ifs,
and tell yourself, No-one’s walking over my grave.
And I never hear voices!
And it ends with the hoot of an owl, the glimpse of a bat:
nature at work in the night, when it’s dark. And that’s that.

© Celia Warren 2016

Looking for more spooky poems (including some lighter, funny ones)? If you have a copy of my anthology A Time to Speak and A Time to Listen, published by Schofield and Sims, then find these poems:
A Final Appointment – Eric Finney, page 4
In the Misty, Murky Graveyard – Wes Magee, page 44
The Spell of the Rose – Thomas Hardy, page 8
Whoo-ooo-ooo-ooooo! – Gerard Benson, page 89
My Father is a Werewolf – Kaye Umansky, page 78
Tarantella – Hilaire Belloc, page 42
And here’s a wonderfully atmospheric night-time poem …
Silver – Walter de la Mare, page 78
… and a comforting poem spoken from beyond the grave:
Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep – Mary E Frye, page 41

Message in a Bottle

October 4, 2016

 

bottle-nose-dolphin-in-bottle-green-sea

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

A bottle-nose dolphin in a bottle-green sea
Found a message in a bottle that he didn’t set free.
He wasn’t very nosy despite his bottle-snout;
He bottled out of reading it and threw the bottle out.
I couldn’t keep it bottled up; I couldn’t let it sink;
I read the message written in bottle-green ink:

A bottle-nose dolphin in a bottle-green sea
Found a message in a bottle that he didn’t set free.
He wasn’t very nosy despite his bottle-snout;
He bottled out of reading it and threw the bottle out.
I couldn’t keep it bottled up; I couldn’t let it sink;
I read the message written in bottle-green ink . . .

© Celia Warren 2016

Messages is the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day on Thursday 6th October.

If you wrote a message in a bottle, what would it say? Who do you think might find it – and where? Maybe washed up on the shore or fished out of the sea? Or possibly inside a fish?

If you put your favourite poem inside a bottle for someone to find, which one would it be?

Knitted, writted and fitted!

September 28, 2016

Copyright Celia Warren 2016

Creativity finds many outlets. As well as writing poetry and stories, I enjoy handicrafts – especially knitting and crocheting. I love making up new patterns, too. This month I designed and knitted these glove puppets for my great-nephew and great-niece. Each has its own poem, too.

luigi-glove-puppet-for-dan

Mario, Luigi and Dan

Luigi and Dan race as fast as they can
as they drive round the trickiest track.
Soon Mario, too, zooms – whoosh! – into view;
he’ll never stay long at the back.

They whizz down the straight of a figure of eight
and then swing round its difficult bends.
Whoever may win as their wheels whirr and spin
they will still be the firmest of friends.

 

glove-puppet-dog-mini-roses

Knit-one-purl-one

This little dog’s called Knitonepurlone;
this little dog is Lucy’s.
He lifts his leg at lamposts
and trees – especially spruces.

This little dog will fit on a hand,
especially little Lucy’s.
He’ll warm her hand in winter
and has lots of other uses.

This little dog won’t bark at night
(for which there are no excuses!)
and he’ll (mostly) be quite well-behaved,
cos this little dog is Lucy’s.

PS
Lucy’s dog is lots of fun
and always comes in handy,
but Knitonepurlone‘s rather long,
so now she calls him Sandy.

© Celia Warren 2016

A Message for 3-18 year-olds (& parents and teachers)

August 24, 2016

Time flies and, before we know it, Britain’s National Poetry Day will be here on Thursday 6th October. This year it’s all about MESSAGES – from or to anyone or anything. What a fabulous wide range of ideas this theme offers!

If you like writing poems, you might want to enter this competition on Roger Stevens’s Poetry Zone. You must be aged between 3 and 18 years old to enter. Poems MUST be your own work. All the poems entered will be shown in The Poetry Zone as they come in. The winners will be announced early in November. The competition closes on October 22nd, 2016.  Good luck!

Over the years poets have often written poems that are messages, or poems in the form of a letter, or in a poem that is called an ‘ode’ – a kind of message, where the poet addresses (talks to) someone or something.

Celia Warren's Anthologies
There are some wonderful poems with messages among the 100 poems in the Schofield and Sims anthology, A Time to Speak and A Time to Listen (isbn 978 07217 1206 2). Look them up and read them to find the answers to these questions:

What happened when a note was passed round a class during a lesson?
The Note – Jill Townsend (poem #74)

Some messages are carved in stone to speak to future generations. But how long do they last?
The Children and Sir Nameless – Thomas Hardy (poem #46)

Here’s a trickier question that has many possible answers: what was written on this note and why was it crumpled and thrown in the fire?
What Has Happened to Lulu? – Charles Causley (poem #27)

Sometimes ‘actions speak louder than words’. What message do these actions convey?
Necklace – Chrissie Gittins (poem #20)

This poet believed in life after death. Who is he talking to?
Death Be Not Proud – John Donne (poem #5)

Was it the same person who carried this message?
A Final Appointment – Eric Finney (poem #4)

Here are more poems from The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poetry (isbn 978 1 4081 3118 3) that answer the following questions – they’re beautifully illustrated, too, mostly by members of the Royal Society of Wildlife Artists:

Who is Fly writing to?
Bee I’m Expecting You – by Emily Dickson (page 111)

What message do migrating birds receive that tells them to fly south for the winter?
Something Told the Wild Geese – Rachel Field (page 145)

What is the message for young children in this poem?
Bedtime – Thomas Hood (page 137)

Is it pretty clear what the message is here?
Don’t Tread on Worms – Eric Finney (page 106)

What do these two odes have in common?
To the Cuckoo – William Wordsworth (page 93) & To a Skylark (page 87)

If your school is buying the Schofield and Sims Anthology, A Time to Speak and A Time to Listen, click here to see how you can buy it at a special price for the Hardback edition. You can also read reviews of the book here.

Gull Alert!

July 14, 2016

Gull © Celia Warren 2016

This gull looks very innocent,
standing on the quayside,
but many of his family
cause big problems at the seaside.

They’re growing pretty vicious
and at times completely nasty
if they spot a kid with sandwiches,
an ice-cream or a pastie.

If you’re outdoors with a picnic
on a beach or up on deck,
gulls may dive-bomb and they’ll steal it
and they don’t mind who they peck.

So please do not encourage them,
don’t throw them little crumbs,
then fewer frightened children
will go crying to their mums.

And if you have a bite to eat
and gulls are hanging round,
keep well undercover
if a shelter can be found.

© Celia Warren 2016

Some years ago, I was eating a pastie near where I live in Dartmouth, Devon, when a gull, in one swift swoop, stole half my pastie, and flew off. It seemed quite funny at the time, but I’ve never eaten in the street since. Now gulls are causing injuries, especially to children, as they grow ever more aggressive in seaside resorts, so much so that the problem was featured on our local TV news last night. Apparently, and incredibly, they are a protected species, so even if people and pets are at risk there is nothing you can do, except stay indoors, especially if you’re eating. One poor family had their Yorkshire terrier carried off from their garden by a gull. Many children have received cuts and bruises from direct attacks from the birds. Much as I love birds, it does sound quite scary. If you’re at the seaside, try and eat safely under cover.

One World

June 29, 2016

SideBySide © Celia Warren 2016

Side by Side
Greenfinch and Bluetit – not birds of a feather,
But look at them peacefully feeding together.

© Celia Warren 2016