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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.