It's always a delight to receive the first competition entries and a huge relief to discover that children haven't suddenly stopped writing poetry. I was fearful this year that the competition might fall to the curse of Pokemon Go, but is seems Pokemon Go came and went in a flash! I haven't seen anymore walk into a lamp-post while glued to their screen for months.
Winter is such a broad subject that we're looking forward to a wealth of poems about English winters - icy cold and often snowing - and the contrasting winters enjoyed around the world. Yes, Australians really do spend Christmas Day sunbathing on the beach and I'm sure there are winter activities in other countries even odder than that!
I though The Winter Faery, written when Rebecca was 11, showed precocious talent. This poem, written two years later, confirms that Rebecca is an exceptionally talented young poet. Messages from a Summer Past is a poem that many adult poets would be rightly proud to have written. Often I pick out individual elements to praise, but this poem uses the complex interplay of language and narrative, construction and composition to produce a work that challenges and satisfies in every aspect. A brilliant poem. Very well done, Rebecca.
This is it,
Soon I shall be gone.
Birds will leave my side
At this, my final song.
The days ahead grow shorter,
My mind is growing weary.
Little bits of life will die,
My eyes grow ever teary.
Snow will reign over all,
The bitter cold shall grasp me.
In an icy grave I’ll lie,
My captor, jailor is she.
One day I’ll return,
For now I breathe my last.
Summer caught by Winter,
My message from a Summer past.
The Winter Faery was written when Rebecca was 11 and is one of two entries submitted by her to the competition. Its an atmospheric evocation of the season, beautifully written and constructed. It's a poem of great maturity, which needs mulling over and re-reading, for it's pleasures are subtle and need to be teased out.
Through a forest,
Round the trees,
Spreading here the winter breeze.
Winter’s near, a task at hand,
I travel to the winter land.
Here I can take back my power,
The sun has gone, the snow shall shower.
I’ll help the animals,
Help my friends,
But I shall reign ‘til winter ends.
This year's competition really is becoming a family affair. This next poem is by Erum's, Subhan's and Ummayyah's brother Sulaimans who is 13. There is something enchanting about poems written by children of their own volition. Highlights of this poem are the immediacy and joy of the language, the description of the delights of playing in the snow (although hot chocolate appears real highlight) and the wonderfully idiosyncratic punctuation. I really enjoyed it. Well done! Sulaimans.
Winter has come, Winter has come ,
Time for al to have some fun,
We want to go outside and play,
To have some fun on this cold! Sunny day.
But when the snow melts, I feel sad,
But my mum tells me it's not that bad,
When I walk sadly inside,
On the table is hot chocolate, OH MY!
Sometimes the simplest rhymes are the most effective. There's no great complexity to Ummayyah's poem, but it is hugely enjoyable and speaks to us in words we understand - except perhaps for the Chipy chip choo element, which is the poem's real spark of genius. I loved it, Ummayyah. Congratulation.
Chipy chip choo,
I love you,
Winter has come,
Winter has come,
Time for all to have some fun
A wonderful poem by Subhan, who is clearly a master of rhyme. It's not always easy for children of primary school age to strike a balance between rhyme and narrative elements, but Subhan has set the scene, told a story and been linguistically adventurous in his excellent poem A snowy Day in the Mountain. Great witting, Subhan. Very well done ,
Walking across the snow,
With my hands deep and low.
So and so I see a crow, flying in winters snow.
At the edge of a cliff,
I take a big sniff of ice cold air.
Then I'm shaking,
Like my mum's saying,
Don’t let the frostbite, bite you tight.
Erum chose to combine a love of horses with our winter theme and produced a dazzling poem, A Day in the Barn. A complex rhyming scheme, clever use of onomatopoeia and a mastery of the English language come together to creates a poem which paints a vivid picture of a wintry equestrian scene. Congratulations Erum, it's a great poem.
Hoof prints in the snow,
Up 'n away we go!
Horsey Horsey don’t you stop,
I like the way you clippoty clop,
Your mane goes swish,
'n your tail goes swoosh,
Horsey horsey don’t you stop.
The rider in the saddle goes up down,
Up down, up down in the trot!
Groomed by the groomer,
Coat shining bright,
Just like stars in the night!
Tucked away warm and tight,
As snow glistens through the night.
Sweet dreams, dear horsey, and sleep tight,
Don’t let the snow frost bite!
Tucked up cozy, I'll see you tomorrow,
Lookin forward to another day in the snow.
Sweet dreams, dear horsey,
Wow, what can I say? When the Cobwebs are Frosted in Winter is an extraordinarily accomplished poem. It combines vivid imagery with a coherent narrative about the spider's relationship with the cobweb. A frosty cobweb, jewel-dropped with icy spikes… Like a whetted knife, a jagged shard… Mya is clearly a master of the metaphor and no slouch when it comes to similes, but what really strikes.me is the maturity of Mya's writing. A superb poem. Well done, Mya.
A monochrome canvas of cold,
A vigilant spider hiding, not so bold,
Frost gnawing at the spokes of a spider’s freshly made home,
The cold is like a discernible dome,
Conquering everything in sight,
Moving in without a fight,
When the cobwebs are frosted in winter.
A frosty cobweb, jewel-dropped with icy spikes,
Jack Frost taking everything until he finds something he likes,
Cold, sharp zephyrs blowing hard,
Like a whetted knife, a jagged shard,
They’re nimble, jumping swiftly up a pinecone-like tree,
And parachuting into the stark blank sky,
Meandering through the freezing air,
Invisible to the naked eye.
The boy of frost is out to play, watching from so far away,
Watching silently with a shining grin,
There’s a spider cowering in the dark, the shadows consuming it like a shark,
The spider sees the shadow of Jack, the boy of frost,
He was here last year, and now he’s back…
It’s that time again,
That Spidey hates,
When the cobwebs are frosted in winter.
Niall's wonderful poem, Christmas Snow, combines two of my favourite elements of winter. It's a cleverly composed poem in which the excitement of unwrapping presents on Christmas morning is quickly supplanted by the realisation that it's snowing outside. Snowmen, snowball fights and snow angels are some of the gifts of nature which don't need unwrapping. The poem concludes with a scene of whizzing down hill on a toboggan accompanied by a triumphant "WWWWWEEEEE". I can see why Niall's teacher enjoyed reading it, especially as it contains two poetic devices that teachers adore - similes and onomatopoeia. Congratulations Niall on an excellent poem.
As quiet as a mouse,
Tip toe tip toe without a creek.
Open the door,
Guess what there is,
Presents, presents and more presents.
The presents had brightly coloured paper wrapping.
I look outside I suddenly realise,
“It’s snowing it’s snowing!” I whispered, to myself.
The snow is as white as a dove.
With the snow I can make angels,
With the snow we can have snowball fights.
With the snow I can make snowmen,
With the snow we can go down hills on toboggan sledges, “WWWWWEEEEE”
A great poem with which to open the Winter Poetry Competition, as its build up includes many of the the key elements in the run up to winter - autumn, Halloween and Bonfire Night - before immersing us in the icy chill of winter itself. As an added bonus, the poem has been written by Josh in his best handwriting, which is both extremely neat and easy to read. Very well done, Josh.