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Queen of the Quatrain

July 13, 2019

ThosRussellSchool_Y4_L's class

I was recently described as ‘queen of the quatrain’ in appreciation of my little four-line poems. When I visit schools I like to make sure every child can take home a poem or two – not in their hands, but in their heads – and quatrains are quick and easy to learn. This poem proved so popular that it was picked, in the year 2000, to be cast in metal and appear (on a fire station wall) as part of a poetry trail. If ever you visit the Hampshire town of Stockbridge, you might spot it. It’s called Ten:Nil.

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 1

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 2

 

These Year 4 children from the Thomas Russell Junior School in Staffordshire had no trouble learning this poem and were soon joining in with gusto.

Ten:Nil and another of my favourite quatrains, Mr Snail, both appear in my Collins Big Cat collection Star-gazing. Recently some young fans sent me a recording of their performance of this little snail poem. You may need to log on to Facebook to see it, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

Why not have a go at writing your own quatrain? You can rhyme each pair of lines, or alternate lines. Or you might, as I have done with these two verses, make just the second and fourth lines rhyme. Have fun!

 

Long journeys

June 3, 2019

copyright Celia Warren 2019.JPG

After six weeks in Australia I’m now back home in the UK and slowly getting used to walking right way up again! The trip to Australia was the longest journey I’ve ever made. The journeys each way took about 36 hours ‘door to door’ — about 9000 miles to reach Perth — and about 10,500 miles to return from Hobart, Tasmania, via Melbourne. In between, I visited Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, too. What a fabulous trip it was! It’s inspired a lot of writing — here’s just one poem for starters:

Not out of Bounds

Australia-bound I’d hoped to find a bounding kangaroo.
I was jumping to conclusions as my mind is prone to do.

I didn’t find one jumping, nor one about to bound,
but several sleeping soundly on the cooler, shady ground

and one who had a joey peeping keenly from her pouch.
But then I saw a kangaroo approaching, so I crouched

beside him in the midday sun, and silently we spoke,
through looking in each other’s eyes. This one I gave a stroke.

I did – I really did it: I stroked a kangaroo!
I’m bound to say that, all along, that’s what I’d hoped to do.

© Celia Warren 2019

I have returned to a number of new books waiting in my postbox. One of them has reminded me that flying from Britain to Australia is as nothing compared to a trip to the moon. Its distance from Earth varies according to the stage of its orbit but, on average, is about 239,000 miles away.

This summer sees the 50th anniversary of man walking on the surface of the moon. I still remember watching that amazing event live on television when I was 16 years old. In celebration of this exciting anniversary, a fabulous little anthology of moon poems has been edited by Roger Stevens and illustrated by Ed Boxall. I’m proud to say that I have contributed two poems to “Moonstruck”, published by Otter-Barry and in the shops from 6th June 2019.

Moonstruck anthology cover pic

Wubbleyoo for Warren

April 26, 2019

town mouse

Delighted to appear under W for Warren in the lovely Liz Brownlee’s April A-to-Z blog challenge. Liz is not only a fine poet herself, but is also a dedicated Children’s Poetry Ambassador. Check out the whole alphabet and read some fab poems.

The poem on Liz’s site was first published in Star-gazing, Collins Big Cat Poetry.Star-gazing

Hurry over and by the end of the month you will have had the opportunity to meet at least 26 poets and taste their poems.

 

Nearly summer time

March 29, 2019

Well, not really! It’s spring, of course, but as far as the clocks go, it’s nearly summer time.

dandelion clock Celia Warren

“Well, I’m blowed,” said the late March dandelion clock.
“Time springs forward an hour this weekend.”
“Well, I’m blowed,” she repeated. “It’s come as a shock.”
And her flowerhead rapidly weakened.

© Celia Warren 2019

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour at bedtime on Saturday night. As you’ll know if you’re familiar with my poems, I do enjoy a bit of wordplay and puzzles, too. So I was delighted to have a poem included in this new book of puzzle poems collected by Roger Stevens for Bloomsbury: I am a Jigsaw ISBN 978 1 4729 5819 8

I AM A JIGSAW anthology

 

From Christmas to Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2019

© Celia Warren 2019 mistletoe acrostic

It’s only a matter of weeks since people were hanging up mistletoe for Christmas – to satisfy a long-held tradition for lovers to snatch kisses beneath it – and now new mistletoe is appearing in trees around the countryside. These eye-catching balls of greenery bear berries, usually a whitish colour, on which birds love to feed. The berries are poisonous to people and other mammals, although not a killer. And while mistletoe might be classed as parasitic, it doesn’t destroy its host-tree. To me its presence is a beautiful green enhancement when the trees are otherwise bare.

After taking these photos (in Somerset), I decided to write the acrostic poem (above) to accompany the picture. It’s not often that I write acrostics, but they offer a fun challenge.

mistletoe © Celia Warren 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day for 14th February!

A robin is for life

January 8, 2019

… not just for Christmas cards. So I share with you this little robin enjoying a new year drink in our garden. The birds often brighten grey January days and, lately, they have been singing as if they knew that spring is just round the corner.

copyright 2019 celia warren

All my life the school term that begins in January has been called the Spring Term (in between the Autumn and Summer Terms). Yet this year, for the first time, I’ve seen it named the Winter Term. It seems a great shame to me. It was always the term when the most work and progress was achieved. It was a time for turning over a new leaf, a time for a fresh start – more akin to springtime than cold, fallow winter. For me it will always be the Spring Term, so here’s to 2019:

Blow away the cobwebs,
breathe clear air
for a new lease of life —
away with care:
A clean slate,
new beginnings,
no looking back —
a fresh innings!
A new year
to toot your flute:
make it yours
and bear fruit.

© Celia Warren 2019

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Wishing you Peace and Light

December 22, 2018

… and a seasonal measure of merriment.

C Celia Warren 2018.jpg

Santa Express

A train of light steams past the ferry:
Makes the river mirror merry.

© Celia Warren 2018

Poetry Zone Party and Book Launch

December 1, 2018

“Everybody who was anybody was there!” Well, that’s not strictly true – there were lots of lovely poets at the CLPE Centre on London’s South Bank recently – but lots of lovely absentee poets, too.

We were gathering to celebrate 20 years of The Poetry Zone, the fabulous online poetry site for children. The site is run by its originator, poet Roger Stevens, and provides a platform for children’s own poetry writing. Roger regularly runs competitions for children as well as showing interviews with poets and children’s poetry-book reviews.

The evening of celebration included readings and performances by a number of established poets – and new young child poets. Many of the poems appear in a celebratory anthology being launched at the event.

Here are just a few of us …PoetryZone_20 years_collage(From top left: Coral Rumble, John Agard, Celia Warren, Colin West, Michaela Morgan, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Roger Stevens, Laura Mucha.)

If you’re a child who likes writing poems and would like a chance to win a copy of this anthology Roger Steven’s Poetry Zone: A Celebration of Children’s Poetry – published by Troika – click here to find details.

Meanwhile, as I love reading poetry every bit as much as writing it, I’d like to share with you this little poem by Tennyson. Everybody who’s anybody (or nobody) should read it. (And if our revered Victorian poet-laureate could write about such an experience, then there’s hope for all of us.) As I wrote the opening line of this blog, it brought the poem to mind:

Somebody being a nobody,
Thinking to look like a somebody,
Said that he thought me a nobody:
Good little somebody-nobody,
Had you not known me a somebody,
Would you have called me a nobody?

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1896)

 

 

Centenary of The Great War’s Armistice

November 11, 2018

Blackawton Armistice Centenary Poppies collage

Towards the end of The Great War, two conscripted soldiers were standing shoulder to shoulder when an exploding shell scattered shrapnel into their trench. One was killed instantly. The other received a life-saving ‘Blighty one’ — temporarily lamed by shrapnel embedded in his foot — and was stretchered away to the safety of a sanitorium. The survivor was my grandfather. As a boy he had kept pet rats — used to carry them around with him in his pockets — which made the presence of feral rats in the trenches less upsetting for him than for many. It was hearing the story of the night he was enrolled for action, from his daughter, my mother, that inspired the poem below:

Soul-Mates, 1916

He sat there, pale and frozen, locked in fear
while, all around, the freshly harnessed men
waved their pints and drove away their troubles
the only way they knew, in drink and song.
When morning came their blurred heads turned to chalk,
goose-flesh trembled, no-one spoke a word;
he alone took on a new tranquillity,
his fear outreached itself and burnt away.
They looked and could not understand his calm,
not noticing his silence through that night,
when their bravado, raucous, loud and long
had swallowed up his lonely suffering.

Spirits cruelly dampened in the trenches,
strong men cried and glory lost its shine,
songs died in thin air, the music faded;
all-pervading squalor claimed their minds.

This man, whose long artistic fingers often
painted sunsets; sketched a gentle world,
reached out now to tame the rats; befriend them,
his intellect admired their ready skill,
saw sharpness in their clever speedy learning
to pierce the ration-tins of Nestle’s milk,
on either side, to make the sweetness flow;
their rodent wit resigned him to their raid.

Vermilion summer skies of English evenings
had moved this man to tears long before
the brutal war had forced him into khaki,
yet even now it could not steal his soul.
His fellow-men, their swearing and their cursing,
the dirt, the damp, the fear, the degradation;
all these he would have born in isolation,
had not his human spirit searched elsewhere:
companionship he found, at last, in rats.

© Celia Warren 2018

*     *     *     *     *

The photo above shows the finished display of over 1000 knitted and crocheted poppies at Blackawton village church. It commemorates the centenary of Armistice Day at the end of WWI and includes 15 poppies that I crocheted.

pile of poppies crochet

For a Change …

September 19, 2018

On 4th October 2018, this year’s National Poetry Day, the theme is CHANGE and if you scroll down you can find two poems that I’ve written about COMPLETE change – that is metamorphosis. I wonder if you can guess which two creatures feature in my poems? But FIRST … have a look at this wonderful new anthology, hot off the press:

I am the Seed that Grew the Tree Anthology Fiona Waters Nosy Crow

I have to call this beautiful anthology a tome – it’s more than a just a book – it’s four-and-a-half pounds of pure delight in word and illustration. Collected by Fiona Waters, and gorgeously illustrated in full colour by Frann Preston Gannon, I am the Seed that Grew the Tree – a nature poem for every day of the year – is likely to become a classic and a daily delight to young and old. All of which makes me very proud to be in it among favourite poets long past, recent past, and present – from Clare to Causley, from Masefield to Mitton – and me! (Click on the link to look inside the book!)

Published by Nosy Crow in association with the National Trust isbn 978 0 857 637 703

Word of warning though: if you’re thinking of buying this as a Christmas present, try and deliver it by hand – it’s heavy to put in the post!

And now for a couple more nature poems. These do not appear in the book above, but they do exemplify change. There is no bigger change than complete metamorphosis, when a creature’s form entirely changes even though it is the same entity. I hope you enjoy these poems, but please note that they, and all the content on this site, are copyright. If you wish to print these poems elsewhere – including online – you must seek permission. Thank you.

peacock butterfly © Celia Warren 2018

Metamorphosis

Do you believe in butterflies?
a caterpillar said.
Butterflies – that we become
after we are dead?

Another young grub nodded.
I’ve seen one just today:
a lovely butterfly with wings
to help it fly away.

I don’t believe in butterflies,
another one pronounced;
The concept of an after-life
was long ago denounced.

I’ve never seen a butterfly,
said he who asked the question;
The only one I thought I saw
was born of indigestion.

And yet, he persevered, you know
I hold the firm belief,
that though I’ve never seen one
they’re as real as this leaf

And, if we keep on chewing,
and do as we are told,
then we won’t die, we’ll learn to fly
when we are fat and old.

In fact, he said, it seems to me
that flying would be super.
With that he yawned and spun around
and turned into a pupa.

The other caterpillars stared:
their hopeful friend look dead.
He has no wings; he cannot fly,
one to another said.

They crawled away and never saw
what happened by and by:
The pupa split and there emerged
a brand new butterfly.

© Celia Warren 2018

And now, one final nature poem about change …

Frogspawn in the Pond

What lies beyond
frogspawn in the pond?

   Tons of tiny tadpoles.

What lies beyond
tadpoles in the pond?© Celia Warren 2018

   Lots of little frogs.

What lies beyond
frogs in the pond?

   Lots more frogspawn.

What lies beyond
frogspawn in the pond?

© Celia Warren 2018

 

Enjoy National Poetry Day!