RIP Maya Angelou #StillIRise

Aren’t we lucky to have had Maya Angelou in our midst, blessing us with her poetry, her life…what a trove she leaves us with.

So Long and thanks for the Owl

I’ve met some lovely, talented people at university this year. Here is one of them. Nikki Dekker is a gifted poet, translator, writer and thinker, and also made me a wonderful wol for my birthday. She’s finished her year at university in the UK and has just returned to her native Netherlands. Check out her blog and the films she has made with the Philosophy Now team.

Alice Oswald withdraws from TS Eliot Poetry Prize

Alice Oswald has withdrawn her name from this year’s shortlist for the TS Eliot prize for poetry.

After losing its Arts Council funding this year, the Poetry Book Society, which manages the prestigious prize, announced a three year sponsorship from Aurum Funds, a private investment company, to cover the costs.

Oswald told The Bookseller: “I’m uncomfortable about the fact that Aurum Funds, an investment company which exclusively manages funds of hedge funds, is sponsoring the administration of the Eliot Prize; I think poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions and for that reason I’m withdrawing from the shortlist.”

See the article in today’s Independent here for more information. It will be interesting to see if anyone else withdraws- I have a feeling they might…

The Case For Children’s Poetry


I was lucky enough to see the legendary Michael Rosen perform at the South Bank on National Poetry Day, to the squeals and shouts of delight of the children sat on the floor at the very front of the stage in the Royal Festival Hall.

He was followed by the rainbow-drop-multi-sensory-poetry-experience that is Laura Dockrill, who had them shouting “Pain Au Chocolat”, with exaggerated and exuberant enunciation. Her cheery persona, spot on vernacular, combined with bewitching poems  – the one about a boy going to live with his Nan was so evocative you could smell it- is perfect for engaging kids in the possibilities of poetry.

I may be doing a poetry workshop with my son’s class and this gave me plenty to think about. I will have to do some serious work on how to perform to and pitch poetry at a group of four and five year olds, and how best to facilitate some fun with words. I hope it goes ahead- it will be a great opportunity.

Although I haven’t written poetry for children (yet), Sam and I enjoy playing with language and making up rhymes and poems, songs, and silly phrases which make us laugh on a daily basis. His Granddad recently taught him all about limericks and they spent an afternoon constructing a great one between them.

So I was really pleased to see this article pop up as a link on someone’s Twitterfeed (apologies, I can’t remember whose) which is  a piece written by Morag Styles, who may be the only Professor of Children’s Poetry around. I have borrowed the title for this post, I hope she doesn’t mind… The Case For Children’s Poetry can be read here.

Poetry in the News

Here are two stories in yesterday’s G2 section of the Guardian newspaper.

The first is an interview with the remarkable Alice Oswald, whose obsession with Homer’s Iliad she has now rewritten as  ‘Memorial’,  and is published by Faber. Read the full interview here.

Sam Leith’s piece on Winning Words,   a poetry project connected to next year’s Olympics is here.

On the Winning Words web site, under the ‘Simple Suggesions’ tab, it suggests you can “bring poetry to life in your day to day life with very little trouble at all.. and maximum results!

Why not try one of the following….

  • Bake a poetry cake! Create your own words in icing
  • Write a poem in the sand next time you’re at the beach – see how long it lasts before the waves wash it away
  • Create a poetry trail in the forest – use twigs and rocks to spell out the words of your favourite poem, or write your own •Make your very own poetry t-shirt with fabric pens or iron-on transfers.”

There are many other suggestions and interesting ideas and projects to experience and be involved in.

I will be going back at regular intervals to see what’s going on and will report back.