Let’s Chase Stars Together / Courage in a Poem / And Everything Will Be Glad To See You

Let’s Chase Stars Together
Matt Goodfellow
Bloomsbury Education

Matt Goodfellow’s is a relatively recent voice in poetry for youngsters but his is one you won’t want to miss. Included here in this new book is something for many occasions and almost every mood.
There’s a good balance between reflections and celebrations of everyday school life and friendship, and presentations of deep personal issues such as divorce in the family. The latter is discussed in A Thousand Hours (spent with Dad) when on the occasion of a walk with ups and downs, ‘he tells me/ it wasn’t meant to be like this / we were supposed to be a family / a proper family / but somehow, y’know, things got in the way’. This concludes on a more upbeat note thus: ‘… right then / it doesn’t feel like he’s a dad / I’m only allowed to borrow …’
On a more humorous note is I Hope It Rains Today set in a classroom where the teacher on duty makes the decision to announce a ‘wet play’ thus allowing one member of the class at least to enjoy the opportunity to head to the school library and therein find space to read.

Courage in a Poem
Little Tiger

Courage in a poem? How is that possible? In a multitude of different ways as you will discover if you read this wonderfully empowering collection that includes work from two dozen word weavers.
Courage is most assuredly found as Elizabeth Avevedo says, when leaving the place you call home and after emigrating ‘attempt to bloom and blossom / and brighten a new place. … unfurl to the possibilities / of the new place you call home.’
On the other hand it might be that by sticking ‘kind words’ onto ourselves, ‘like pollen to the knee of a bee’ we might cover ourselves with the same kindness ‘nectar’ as poet Matt Goodfellow. Or perhaps as Rachel Plummer suggests, by emulating the beech tree she so wonderfully describes being fully itself in its own shape; that is the way to be ‘nothing but myself’ safe in the knowledge ‘I am. I will grow.’ 

Another way of finding that inner courage is through movement as the dancer in Mandy Coe’s The Cancan tells us, ‘Because when I dance I can, can do anything / when I dance.’

Equally it might be as Sophia Thakur tells us in Mother’s Eyes to see ourselves as a mother does
and with such certainty as hers to love ourselves with the same strong belief. 

To immerse yourself in this book is to be inspired and delighted, awed and perhaps mesmerised, by the powerfully uplifting messages and accompanying illustrations

And Everything Will be Glad To See You
selected by Ella Risbridger, illustrated by Anna Shepeta
Nosy Crow

This bumper volume contains more than one hundred poems and is a wonderful celebration of women writers of poetry. (There are also a few anonymous works) Taking a stand for equality now and in the future, Ella Risbridger’s main reason for this book is that historically men have been paid ‘lots more attention’ and ‘that’s not fair’! Consider this, in the UK our Poet Laureate list numbers just one woman (Carol Ann Duffy) among twenty men.

Herein you’ll likely find work by familiar writers but you’ll also be excited to make lots of new discoveries. As an erstwhile compiler of poetry anthologies I came upon a fair few I too have included in collections but rediscovering these poems in a different context brings fresh delight: one such is Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’ Keep a Poem in Your Pocket, another is Eleanor Farjeon’s Cats.

On the day of writing this I was drawn to works by Carol Ann Duffy, in particular Don’t Be Scared which opens thus, “The dark is only a blanket / for the moon to put on her bed. / … The ark is the wooden hole / behind the string of happy guitars.’

Sheer delight too is the very first poem, Nikita Gill’s brilliantly inclusive, 93 Percent Stardust, the final lines of which are ‘with souls made of flames, / we are all just stars / that have people names.’
Being unfamiliar with the work of Joy Harjo it was a wonderful surprise to come upon her exhortation to Remember

as I certainly shall this poem, It’s one I shall return to over and over.

Anna Shepeta has done an awesome job illustrating every spread. Her mesmerising artwork thoughtfully compliments the poem or poems found at every turn of the page. Beautifully presented, this is a truly inspiring book to own, to share and to give.

You certainly won’t regret adding any, or all of these books to your poetry shelf.

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