Curie, Pankhurst and Wonderwoman in Hull


I was thrilled to be invited back to spend 3 days in Thoresby Primary School last week. It is the second time I have been part of their Kaleidoscope festival. Once again pupils and staff gave a hundred percent and we produced class poems about Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst, Fairtrade, India… and all sorts of heroes.

During this fortnight of exciting activities, the aim is to promote cultural awareness and confront equal opportunities issues in a positive way with a ‘celebration of diversity’. This year’s theme was heroes and people who have made a difference. Thoresby are prolific on social media, so I am including a few of their many tweets to give a flavour of the work produced.

I also spent a day in Stepney Primary School. The teacher who booked me remembered me doing a performance of my poem Orange Socks in a previous school. It is several years since I performed there last. I received a very warm welcome. I gave a performance to the whole school and then led workshops for KS2. They are taking part in a poetry slam shortly, and these workshops were to help get them started. I am sure they will do well. Break a leg!

Thanks again to both schools for a great time and such creative energy.

National Poetry Day 2016 is Thursday 6 October


National Poetry Day is one of the two busiest times of the year for me, the other being World Book Day. I’m just giving you advanced notice of the date since it doesn’t allow for much planning time after you return from summer holidays.

If you are interested in having a poet visit your school, please have a look at the sort of things I do in the schools visits section. If that interests you, please contact me to check availability and price.

Lesson Planning For Next Term? Inviting A Performance Poet To Your School?

Bernard Young in a school arms in air

A poet in your school? Why not? The right poet (I mean me! but there are lots of us) can offer an exciting start to your school day (I include guitar and just enough joining in during my morning assembly performances). The children head off to classes with loads of writing ideas already in their heads and I then work with all ages throughout the day.


Teachers tell me that having an enthusiastic practitioner of the art in the classroom has a tremendous effect on them and the children. Together (teachers, children, poet) we produce fantastic new poems and usually share them before home time. After that we all go home (apart from the teachers who have yet another after-school meeting to attend).

For some ideas for bringing poetry in to the class room see my collection of blog posts on the subject – classroom ideas. Another way is to have a look at some of my videos on YouTube. They can be used for a sing along break during the day, or as a springboard for other poems using the same patterns. If you want to discuss what I could do in your school and what it will cost, please contact me.

What did you get for Christmas? I didn’t get a bike

Poem and pictures from the book Brilliant by Bernard Young
Copyright Bernard Young

This poem is from my book ‘Brilliant’.


I got a massive box of chocolates
but I didn’t get a bike

I got some extra-special roller-skates
but I didn’t get a bike

I got a mind-blowing computer game
but I didn’t get a bike.

A poem to get you in the Christmas mood, with mistletoe

A face in the snow
Image copyright Bernard Young
I hope everyone out there is looking forward to Christmas and hoping it will be a white one. Some folk have already seen the first snow fall. When I think of Christmas, I think of mistletoe.

Snow and Mistletoe

My heart is beating
fast, not slow,
as I stand beneath
the mistletoe.

My face is red.
My ears aglow.
I’ve just been snogged
by Rachel Snow*.

It was GREAT!
Not so-so.
She’s a terrific kisser.
Now you know.

* This is made up. Miss Snow is no-one I know.

Bernard Young is an experienced performance poet who is available for workshops, in schools particularly primary age. He’s based in Manchester, but happy to travel further afield. Over the years he’s also worked successfully in partnership with Road Safety officers combining the road safety message with creative writing. To book Bernard for a workshop in your school, see Contact page.

Time to Wrap up and Rap

Cat wrapped in a blanket
Image Copyright Karen Cropper
Since the season of cold weather is upon us, here’s a poem for you to rap as you go about your business. Might warm you up. Particularly if you perform a little dance at the same time.

Wrap Up Rap

When the wind is blowing
And snow is on the way
Get your woolly hat on
Wrap up warm today

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Find a scarf and good thick gloves
Don’t forget your coat
Be prepared for the attack
When Jack Frost grabs your throat

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Here comes thunder
Here comes hail
Hear the thunder
Dodge the hail

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Hat for head
Socks for toes
In your scarf
Bury your nose

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing that wrap up rap

Bernard Young is an experienced performance poet who is available for workshops in schools, particularly primary age. He is based in Manchester, but will travel further afield. Over the years he has also worked successfully in partnership with Road Safety officers, combining the road safety message with creative writing. For more info, see the Contact page.

Invite a poet to your school for Children’s Book Week 7-11 October 2013

Bringing a writer, poet, illustrator or storyteller into your school is a great way to inspire children and bring reading to life. The Book Trust, who organise Children’s Book Week, which is this week, have some tips on their website with simple steps for planning your event

Illustration by Quentin Blake
Children’s book week 7-11 October

But reading is for every day not just special weeks so the same principles apply for any time of year.  Bringing in a guest writer/performer, who can give the kids and teachers a boost of energy and enthusiasm for reading and writing, is well worth the  price.

Here’s the sort of day I have when I do a day workshop in a school. Before a workshop I usually perform some of my poems (some with guitar and participation) and then give writing ideas based on what they’ve heard me do. This can result in poems for the page and/or performance.

Some are very simple – I read one, for example, (When To Cut Your Hair) which uses each day of the week and show how that can be used for any subject. For example, using football:

When To Play Football

Play football on Monday
Score a goal

Play football on Tuesday
Fall down a hole

and so on.

Another I read (they join in with this) is Brilliant, which begins

Today Mum called me brilliant
and that’s just how I feel

I’ll run a race
I’m bound to win
I’ll take up golf
Get a hole in one

Because today Mum called me brilliant
so that’s what I must be

I give ideas and examples of how they can use this structure, like this:

Today I’m feeling noisy
So that’s what I will be

I’ll run up the stairs
And stamp on the floor
I’ll run back down
And slam the door

Because today I’m feeling noisy
So that’s what I will be

I use simple choruses and repetition during the performance and show how these can easily be incorporated in their own poems, if they want to write something that is for performance.

I do find, that having heard me, they pick up the ideas very quickly, and those who need less help can use my ideas if they want to, but also have the opportunity to go their own way. And there’s scope for writing funny and serious poems.

If there are any classes where the teacher would prefer to have a go at a class poem, we can do that too. I often use guitar on the class ones and we can usually come up with a finished poem in about 30 minutes.

Usually teachers jot down my examples based on 3 or 4 of my poems and then discuss them back in the classroom.

I hope the advice on the Book Trust website and the ideas I have given here will encourage some schools to book a writer.  If you are interested in booking me, please do get in touch.

National Poetry Day 4th October 2012

An enthusiastic poet in the classroom has a tremendous effect, inspiring children and teachers to write and read poetry long after the poet has left. Have you planned what you are doing for National Poetry Day this year?

Bernard Young performing at Filey Primary School

Driftnet Poets and Friends Saturday 3 March 8pm @ Ropery Hall, North Lincolnshire

Driftnet Poets and Friends Saturday 3 March 2012 8pm @ Ropery Hall, The Ropewalk, Maltkiln Road, Barton upon Humber, North Lincolnshire DN18 5JT

Driftnet Poets and Friends present an evening of Poetry, Music and Song. The evening is in support of WaterAid 8pm £5/£7 on the door

Driftnet Poets have put together a cornucopia of words and music, inviting some of their friends to join them on stage in support of WaterAid.

Performing together for more than 10 years, all six Driftnet Poets write in a variety of styles which translate from page to stage to great effect.

Merlin’s Keep from Grimsby has four albums behind them and members are continually writing new material to add to their popular repertoire.

Trevor Millum and Bernard Young have worked together for many years as the duo Double Talk. Their witty poetry takes a light-hearted but sometimes barbed look at life.

Roger Beard has been singing and playing around the country for many years, performing traditional and contemporary folk alongside acoustic versions of rock classics.

This performance will include new work created especially for the occasion.

All proceeds will go to WaterAid – come along and share a special evening in support of a vital cause. Together we can make changes.

Tickets from Ropery Hall website:

Highcliffe Primary, Guisborough 31st October & 1st November

Thanks for making me welcome. I enjoyed my two day visit very much.

Day one started off in the hall with a performance to the whole school. Great joining in on Brilliant and Ref Rap kids. Loads of poems were written. Individual and group ones. And a few class ones (with added guitar) when I worked with Reception and Yr 1 & 2.

Great to start with Reception on the morning of day 2 and finish the day with a yr 6 session. There were poems about pirates, swimming, dancing, teachers, football (of course) and a lump in the throat one about a soldier going to war.

Days like these remind me why I love being a poet who visits schools.