Day 23 + 24

Last night as I lay in the bath daydreaming, I had a feeling I’d forgotten something. That feeling stayed in the back of my mind taunting me until I woke up this morning and realised I’d missed a day of my month of daily blogs challenge. So here’s a double whammy.

Firstly, I wanted to share some poetry books I have recently read because they are all completely awesome for different reasons – and one of the things I love about the writing community is how supportive they are of one another. So here are some fab books, for no other reason than that – they’re fab!

If you’d like to follow any of the authors on Twitter then look for:

@DBertulis (Where Do Wishes Go)
@JoshuaSeigal (Welcome To My Crazy Life)
@JosephACoelho (Poems Aloud)
@moses_brian (Lost Magic)
@MichaelRosenYes (Many Different Kinds of Love)
@WakelingKate (Cloud Soup)

Secondly, here are two brilliant websites for anyone interested in children’s poetry – reading it, writing it, using it as a coaster for your tea (don’t do that!). Poetry Zone (run by Roger Stevens) and The Dirigible Balloon (Jonathan Humble) – who are both hugely passionate about sharing, celebrating and encouraging poetry for children. Click the image to visit the websites!

March 6th – The Cold

This poem is great fun to perform – you can even throw in a few well timed sneezes of your own.

Have a go at writing a poem with only two words on each line. Try and keep the endings the same. Your first line is:

Chicken Pox

March 5th – Boys Can’t Be A Princess

I loved writing this poem and I really enjoy reading it with children. The ending always makes them laugh and it’s great fun to have two people read the poem as a conversation.

Have a go at writing a conversation poem. Who might be talking? Could it be a conversation between a parent and child – what if they swap traditional roles? Maybe the child could be telling the parent off for being silly… my son does this a lot to me!

What about a conversation poem between animals, or inanimate objects? Imagine what a pair of shoes or a bowl of fruit might have a conversation about – there is lots of fun to be had!

March 3rd – The Crocodile Lady

I wrote The Crocodile Lady whilst visiting a Crocodile farm (who knew they existed!) near our house. After looking at the crocodiles we went for a walk in the nearby forest and stumbled across a wooden hut. It was abandoned and almost hidden in greenery, but it caught our eye as we walked past.

I imagined who might live there if this was a story. The Crocodile Lady was born. I suppose it might also act as a cautionary tale – stranger danger and the old ‘don’t go with someone just because they offer you sweets’ phrase that parents parrot out to small children.

Many children enjoy reading and writing scary poems. Make a word bank of creepy, horrible words and then create a character to describe.

Perhaps you will choose a monster or a beast. But what would happen if you wrote a terrifying tale about a hamster or a bunny rabbit? Sometimes contrasting a character with traits you wouldn’t expect can be a lot a fun!

The Hideous Hedgehog or The Blood-Curdling Butterfly…

March 1st – The Menu

I haven’t blogged for a while and, like most things, blogging is much easier when it becomes a habit. I habitually brush my teeth in the morning, drink tea with one sweetener and leave the house with all the children and paraphernalia with which they are associated. This is routine and so it gets done.

When I blogged for 100 days in a row about exercise it wasn’t a chore (nor, surprisingly, was the exercise!) but now my trainers are lost to the back of the downstairs cupboard along with a few broken toys and that coat I never really liked but pretended I did to be polite. My blogging momentum lies abandoned with them.

So I have set myself a challenge. Inspired by poet Brian Moses’ blog, found here, I have challenged myself to share a poem a day for the month of March, alongside some tips for how they might be used to inspire ideas for writing poetry. You can follow Brian Moses on twitter: @moses_brian

I wrote this poem after watching our children playing in a role play kitchen. They did not concern themselves with making the usual foods one might find on a cafe menu; they let their imaginations run wild!

Have a go at writing a food poem.

You could write a BOGUS BREAKFAST menu or a list of treats to be sold at the CEMETERY’S MIDNIGHT CAKE STALL – what would be on it?

Perhaps your poem will contrast delicious foods with grotesque descriptions – there is lots of fun to be had!

Think of unusual places food might be served. What about afternoon tea on the moon? What might be on the menu then?

If you want to share your poem with me I’d love to read it! You can email or share your work via Twitter @CharlieDBown

Coming Soon!

When I started approaching agents and publishers last year I was prepared for the inevitable rejection emails. Everything I’d read about this process suggested it could (and most likely would) be a long journey to publication, if I ever got there at all.

So why not self publish?

When I decided to be a teacher I didn’t just rock up to a classroom and get on with it. I spent a year training and completed a PGCE, had my lessons observed and commented on, learnt what I was good at and what I needed to work on. I had a tutor and a mentor and by the end of the year I knew I was going to be good at my job.

How do I achieve the same validation within the world of writing? To me the answer seemed simple, find an expert in the industry and get them to love my books. I am not against self publishing at all and I have read lots of SP books which I’ve loved. But for me, I needed the reassurance that a professional in the industry agrees that my writing is worthy of being put into a book.

I still do need that external input. So for now my picture books and chapter books remain firmly unpublished and waiting for that magic agent or spectacular rewrite when I come back to them again later. But poetry, it turns out, is a different sort of ballgame.

So many agents and publishers have NO POETRY on their submissions guidelines. Why? Kids love poems! But this is a business game after all and a little poetry book by an unknown poet is not necessarily going to equal big sales numbers. When it comes to poetry there seems to be a much bigger no entry sign than any other type of text.

Three things have happened in the last few months.

Firstly, a friend in the music industry told me that when people approach him with songs the first thing he wants to know is who is this person and how committed are they? Is it one song or do they have more? The bottom line – why should he take the risk? Finally, he asked me if I had considered self publishing my poetry to show I’m committed to my own writing?

No. No, I hadn’t.

The second thing that happened was that I contacted a published poet. Someone relatively new in the industry, someone whose poems I’d read and enjoyed, someone who was where I wanted to be – visiting schools with his published poetry books and sharing them with children.

Do you have an agent? How did you get published? Please tell me your secrets!

He explained that his journey started as a self published poet. Once he’d spent a few years doing the school circuits and selling his books he approached a publisher and said, hey – look at me! I’m great at this. And he could prove it. He was selling books and that was a language the publisher was willing to take a chance on.

The third thing that happened is that it was National Poetry Day and I felt really sad. I felt sad that for another year I was looking at my poems in a file on my computer and wishing rather than doing. The theme of NPD this year was choice.

OK, Universe. You have my attention.

Because we do have a choice. A choice authors in the past didn’t have and perhaps that choice is also a chance, a chance to prove that you’re passionate and committed and most importantly, excited to share your writing with an audience.

And on that note, I hope to have some very exciting news to share with you soon…

I Don’t Wear Those Pants

It never fails to surprise me – the number of excuses a three year old can make when they don’t want to do something. They are world class masters in the art of avoidance and distraction, not least when they are required to do something as simple as put on a pair of pants. This poem was inspired by that very experience.

I Don’t Wear Those Pants

Mum says put your pants on 
But I say, no.
I can’t wear those pants I tell her
And here’s why, I go:

Chefs wear pants with eggs on
And Builder’s pants have bricks.
A Doctor’s pants have plasters 
And a Gardener’s have sticks.

If you’re a Painter you have brushes
And a Vet has mice and rats.
A Teacher’s pants have pencils
A Hat Salesman, he has hats. 

My mum just doesn’t get it,
She doesn’t seem to see.
I can’t wear blue pants, stripes or spots,
Those pants all don’t show me.

My pants would need adventures,
They’d need clever plans and codes.
They’d need zooms and zags and ziggles
And twenty-seven modes.

My pants would need to be curious,
They’d have to be able to climb.
My pants would need sparkles and sprinkles
And they’d need to tell the time. 

My pants would have super speedy stripes,
And colour-changing frazzle.
I can’t wear the pants my mum chose,
My bum deserves to dazzle.