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Poetry is in the air!

Hi,

In my last blog I started to wax lyrical about the power of poetry, so I thought I would carry on this week by sharing a few of my favourite poets and looking at a few classic poems that I have been working with lately. In my experience, if you can find a great poem then children can easily become poets. I think all children should know the work of Michael Rosen. He is a master of word play and his ‘silly’ books have a real playfulness and love of the sound of language :

dont put

book of silly poems

Nonsense

Rosen is also a very honest and truthful poet, who is able to capture a wide range of emotions in his writing. He is not afraid of writing about real experiences and his book about the death of his beloved son. It is not a poem, but if I was studying Rosen’s work I would share this text with the class and then talk about how he uses his own life to inspire his work:

Sad booksad book michael

Sad book image

Sad book image s

Julia Donaldson is also great at word play and ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘Room on the Broom’ rightfully deserve to be loved by many. Both books give children a real love of clever rhyme and an understanding of pattern in poetry:

Fairuse_Gruffalo

room-on-a-broom

 

room-prv-1-195324

 

room-prv-3-195325

Donaldson has also produced a wide range of  interesting poems, including performance pieces and compiled a book of classic poetry that all children should share:

npd2011cRoundabout458

PoemsToPerform

If you want more examples of her work go to her website to have a good look – http://www.juliadonaldson.co.uk/

Another favourite poet of mine is Ted Hughes. He is the antithesis of Rosen: a dark, brooding poet. I love using his poetry with older pupils, as he paints such an earthy world, full of powerful creatures. I have used ‘Pike‘ and ‘Thought Fox‘ with able Year 6 pupils and had really thoughtful discussions about his word choices and imagery. Have a look at some of his children’s poetry:

ted hughes

TH3 TH5 TH2 TH1

The National Curriculum has a focus on classic poems, so I am also trying to compile a list of really good ones that children will enjoy and should experience. Of course poems such as the ‘The Ning Nang Nong‘ by Spike Milligan, ‘Jabberwocky‘ by Lewis Carroll , ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes are timeless and should be shared, but what about comparing the wonderful poem about Macavity from T.S.Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’  with the more modern writing of Roger McGough’s ‘The Cat’s Protection League’:

download 

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—
But it’s useless to investigate—Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
It must have been Macavity!’—but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumb;
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place—MACAVITY WASN’T THERE !
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

The Cats’ Protection League

Midnight. A knock at the door.
Open it? Better had.
Three heavy cats, mean and bad.

They offer protection. I ask, ‘What for?’
The Boss-cat snarls, ‘You know the score.
Listen man and listen good

If you wanna stay in the neighbourhood,
Pay your dues or the toms will call
And wail each night on the backyard wall.

Mangle the flowers, and as for the lawn
a smelly minefield awaits you at dawn.’
These guys meant business without a doubt

Three cans of tuna, I handed them out.
They then disappeared like bats into hell
Those bad, bad cats from the CPL.

Roger McGough.

Copyright: Peter Fraser Dunlop


I hope you have a good week and manage to share some wonderful poetry with your class.

Take care,

Dawn

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