There was a warm welcome from the outset for me and my guitar, when I visited St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Stoke on Trent, on Tuesday. I led poetry workshops with years 2, 3 and 5. A highlight was working with year 5 to compose a class poem (with guitar accompaniment) about Macbeth, which they have been studying. The weather was an added bonus, meaning we could have my poetry performance outside for the Reception children. We ended the day with a whole school assembly, and each class presented a selection of the poems that they had produced during the day. Then I rounded things off with a performance of some of my own poems. Thanks everyone for a great day.
I am pleased to share here that I have a new book, written with my good pal and Double Talk partner, Trevor Millum, illustrated by Twink Addison.
The Poetry Guide – A ‘How To’ for Teachers and Librarians.
This lively guide is packed with practical suggestions for teachers and librarians on how to effectively and creatively teach poetry to kids. It’s also a ‘how to’ book aimed at encouraging children to seek out and read poetry, whether to read or to listen to.
The Poetry Guide is both practical and fun. It’s also full of tried and tested ideas from a ‘double act’ of poets with a wealth of experience in delivering inspiring workshops and events to a wide range of children in a variety of contexts.
To find out more and order multiple copies, please have a look at the page about the book on Troika Books’ website: https://www.troikabooks.com/the-poetry-guide. The book is also available from Amazon.
The Poetry Guide –
A How To Guide for Teachers and Librarians
Written by Trevor Millum and Bernard Young
Illustrated by Twink Addison
Publication date: October 2020
Ages: 7+ years
Format: Paperback / 198 x 130 mm / 96 pages
Rights available: World
UK retail price: £8.99
Bank Holiday Lockdown
Why is this cat crossing the road?
Because he can.
It’s so quiet he doesn’t even
need to use the Green Cross Code.
In ‘normal’ times there’d be caravan
after caravan pouring in.
There’d be huge 4x4s, coaches, motorbikes,
cars with windows down and music blaring.
But in Wales we’re still locked down, which is why
this road is free from jams and noise.
Usually business would be brisk, takings high,
with us residents staying home by choice
and spending our weekend doing indoor things;
outside (too manic!) is for the visitors to enjoy.
The calm that the end of the holiday brings
is what we’d be longing for. But oh boy,
there’s a price being paid for the peace
we’re appreciating this year.
Though I think it’s wise not to ease
the rules still being enforced here.
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, this cat
will once more be forced to watch his step
and we’ll again be feeling annoyed that
it’s far too busy and please can it stop.
Every year World Book Day is the first Thursday in March – this year the date is Thursday 5th March. There are lots of resources for primary schools on the UK World Book Day website here: https://www.worldbookday.com/resources/primary/
I’ve already had enquiries about that week, so if you are thinking you might like a poet to come into your school to liven things up, please do contact me early to avoid disappointment.
In 2019 I had a busy week around World Book Day and spent the day itself at Greenfield Primary in Hyde near Manchester. Here is a write up about that day:
Sometimes I jump in my car
and head off to a school
with my poetry books and guitar.
As a rule
I have a fantastic time.
I perform some of my poems.
Then we write poems that rhyme
and poems that don’t
and some poems that are songs.
Children work in pairs
or small groups
We get together near the end of the day
and the young poets perform their fresh new poems,
with a partner or several friends,
or on their own.
I’m told such a day gives them a break
from their usual lessons.
Then I go home
and count my blessings.
This poem first appeared on blipfoto.com on 1st Nov 2016
I hope you have all had wonderful holidays. Teachers will be thinking about going back to work, planning a few lessons, probably. I hope you will be thinking about some poetry orientated lessons for National Poetry Day, which is coming up on Thursday 3rd October. If you need a little help, there are some FREE LESSON PLANS and other resources for National Poetry Day on the NPD website.
The theme this year is TRUTH. There are some poems on that theme on the NPD website here: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/poems/poems/
I still have some availability that week, if you want me to come to your school to perform and run workshops, but contact me soon to avoid disappointment.
On 20th July 2019 it will be the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon on 20th July 1969. However, I have a tale to tell of the first woman on the moon ten years earlier.
The First Woman on the Moon
Little known fact:
the first woman on the moon
was Mabel Greensmith.
She went up there in a dream
and when she woke up
she knew her dream was true.
Mabel was my Mum’s best friend
so, of course, she told my Mum
all about going to the moon
and my Mum told me.
And then we all forgot about it.
However, ten years later, in 1969,
when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon
(‘one giant leap for mankind’)
it was regarded as a big deal.
But he went up in a proper rocket
and had to wear a spacesuit
whereas Mabel did her moon walking
wearing only a pair of slippers
and a flannelette nightie,
and with her hair in rollers.
If Mabel had been in the papers
and on TV
it would have been great
but she wasn’t one for a lot of fuss
and continued to live quietly
as one of us.
Though it’s a shame she didn’t leave a slipper
or one of her rollers up there
for Neil Armstrong to discover.
That really would have put the earth cat
among the moon pigeons.
This poem appears in Moonstruck edited by Roger Stevens recently published by Otter-Barry Books.
“Blast off into space and explore the galaxies with a constellation of illustrated poems about the sun, moon and stars, black holes and worm holes, asteroids and meteorites, and even weird alien life forms.
From shape poems and free verse to rhymes, kennings and haikus, Spaced Out will take you on an intergalactic adventure. Join Brian Moses and James Carter and a wealth of new and established poets to discover your inner space cadet!
This starry collection is the perfect way to get children interested in poetry.”
It’s a tough job being a poet.
I’m surprised it’s not better paid.
Perhaps there should be guided tours of workshops
so non-poets can see how poems are made?
There’s no respite if you’re a poet.
You’re working all the time.
You have to get on it if there’s a call for a sonnet.
And people expect you to rhyme.
It’s more demanding than being a surgeon.
It’s harder than digging a road.
We deserve much longer holidays than teachers.
It can be stressful writing an ode.
We sometimes work until lunchtime
if we need to complete a quatrain.
Yes, it’s a tough job being a poet
but you’ll never hear us complain.
Remember a poet can be an enthusiastic inspiring addition to your classroom all year round, not just for World Poetry Day. If you’d like to know what I can do in your school, please contact me.
Teachers from Greenfield Primary in fancy dress
I had a brilliant time at Greenfield Primary in Hyde celebrating World Book Day. It’s always great to see teachers and kids dressed up as their favourite book characters. We kicked off, as I usually do, with a performance to the whole school. There was plenty of enthusiastic participation from pupils and staff in the hall. Through the day I did eight class workshops. Each class, from Early Years to Year 6, produced a class poem (with guitar accompaniment) of excellent standard. Subjects covered included football, their school, friendships and music.
Thank you to Mrs Stokes who was inspired to write a little verse about my visit:
Bernard Young, Bernard Young,
We really loved the songs you’ve sung.
Thank you for travelling all this way
To Greenfield Primary School today.