Keep reading, keep drawing, keep writing – and your imagination will expand

December 21, 2017

Well done to all the children who wrote a poem for the Imagine a Poem Competition run in association with Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and Amnesty International. We asked National Poetry Day Ambassador and artist Sophie Herxheimer to read and review them. Here’s what she had to say:

‘I very much enjoyed reading all the poems, and imagining all those busy pens and pencils travelling across pieces of paper up and down the land, all those keen eyes too, spotting birds swooping over the playground whilst waiting for the freeing ding of the break or home-time bell!

I hope that all of you continue to find freedom in the joyful release of thoughts and words onto paper. Keep reading, keep drawing, keep writing – and your imagination will expand forever – as you create your own wonderful wilderness where the idea-birds can feed and proliferate!

The winning poems planted direct and unmistakeable images in may mind, as well as showing original or imaginative uses of language.

Basti Cook made me see the eagle in the poem. Somehow the line ‘very equal gliding’, rhymed so nearly with eagle made me feel I was flying too – symmetrical and aligned, with a vast wingspan, the rhythm of the whole poem had the dipping and soaring of flight.
A nice sense of scale too, from huge mountains to ‘little mice’.

Molly Suggitt’s poem which seemed to be about Noah’s Ark, at the same time conjured images of more contemporary waters, dangerous journeys where a ‘so kind bird’ brings ‘evidence of safety’.
Again there was a lovely sense of scale here, as in these lines: ‘In the treacherous winds./And that one little bird,/ Stopped your heart from sinking.’

Both the winning poets chose their words with care and from their own personal imaginations – these poems were thoughtful and spare, thank you for writing them Molly and Basti, keep looking at the world and writing about what you see and feel!

Isaac Woodford created a lively believable football atmosphere by using lines as if they were almost a chant, ‘Goalkeeper shouting/ Coaches chattering,/Tackles flying,’ conjuring up all the action of an exciting match, lovely illustrations too. It’s always a good bet to write about something you’ve really experienced, it gives your words the ring of truth. A definite goal, keep playing, keep writing!

Samson Scales recounted the strings of barriers we face to freedom, but interspersed these with some lively nonsense words which gave his poem a rhythm all its own. I particularly liked ‘Imagine there are no children/ Lying in bed with sad thoughts in their head./ Frip frap frippety frap,’ There’s dancing to be done alongside harsh reality!

Libby’s poem also imagined a standing up to violence: ‘They burnt our possessions, shaking with laughter./We huddled together without/ shedding a tear. Because we had each other’ There were some very acute images and big contrasts, phrases like ‘shuffled away’ and ‘no heart at all’ made the voice in the poem strong as well as sad. A brave poem in a brave young voice.

I loved the inventive rhymes in Amelia Burrell’s poem Cages! Like this: ‘My name is Mr Zebra I am very hyper’ and also the fun pace of zipping about in that unfair zoo. I also liked ‘My name is Miss Ssssnake/…. I might be poisonous Or fabulous’ It’s clever to show how all of us can be at least two things at once! There was a rollicking rhythm to this poem, and also a sense of humour. Well done.

In Dot Hawten’s poem, there were some lovely bits of rhyme and alliteration: ‘no bird should be trapped!/Or packaged! Or pounded! Or remussed, or wrapped!’ There were lots of half invented words and in beautiful handwriting, skipping and tumbling over two pages, and the language was full of observation and colour.

I could really see the delightful elephants in Isobel Lakeland’s poem, Freedom.
‘Swish! Swash! Swoosh!/The baby calls as loud as a bus’ being a helpful simile for us city dwellers, and later: ‘Munch! Munch! Swish!/The free elephant pulls down branches’ An action packed poem full of rhythm and movement and jungle sounds. A great eye and ear at work here, and also gorgeous hand writing and pictures on the page.

You can read all the poems on the National Poetry Day website.