Monday, 25 April 2011

Twenty Reasons Why My Notebook is Very Messy

Sue Hardy-Dawson

Because I sometimes write in the dark or whilst staring out the window.
Because sometimes I accidentally doodle when I’m thinking.
Because my pen is possessed by the evil splodge monster.
Because a piece of cheese is not a rubber.
Because trains are wobbly.
Because I need to find another word for because and the thesaurus knocks my tea over onto the cat, who then jumps on my notebook.
Since…as…for the reason that… Because there aren’t many words for because apparently; and anyway I had to cross most of them out because I didn’t like them.
Because I've been drawing with black charcoal and suddenly had an idea and the paper is now the same colour as my nose.
Because my puppy tried to eat it after digging a small hole in the lawn with his nose and stealing spaghetti from the bin.
Because my notebook decided to take up tight-rope walking in my absence and fell in the bath (my son told me this so it must be true).
Because I couldn’t find a beautiful and poetic rhyme for orang-utan.
Because my spell checker is sulking and turns itself off and then tells me lies!
Because my ice-lolly melted whilst I was studying a cloud.
Because I had a really funny thought as I took a sip from a full glass of blackcurrant juice.
Because my brain went to bed and left my body in charge of a pen.
Because I had to remove the cover after slipping whilst writing in a field full of cows and their strange brown footprints.
Because my sun lotion leaks and someone just belly-flopped into the swimming pool.
Because life moults and I attract all the bits.
Because the lady next door was cutting her hedge so I wrote the same word forty-two times.
Because it’s difficult to write whilst being carried through the treetops by a dragon. (OK, so I made that one up. But it’s probably true and I have such a vivid imagination the effect is probably the same.)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Classic Poems - The Ostrich by Ogden Nash

by Graham Denton

The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I'm glad it sits to lay its eggs

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet who pushed the delightful possibilities of rhyme to their utmost. Writing mostly in sequences of rhyming couplets, Nash often sacrificed a regular metre, caring little for line length, as long as he said precisely what he wanted to say within the space of each two rhyming lines. Sometimes the lines were so long they almost tumbled off the edge of the page, whilst in others (for example, in The Jellyfish: Who wants my jellyfish?/ I'm not sellyfish!), the entire poem was contained in the space of one short couplet.
Never settling for obvious rhymes, Nash would often corrupt words in such a way that they were no longer “proper” words, yet still comprehensible and suiting perfectly the match that Nash was looking for. The rhyme of “Sahara” and “narra” in The Ostrich is a wonderful example; even though “narra” is quite clearly a made-up word, the reader instantly recognises its meaning.
The Ostrich, one of a carnival of animal poems that Nash entertained both children and adults with in his lifetime, is a poem that highlights Nash’s dextrous wordplay at its very best. The overall image he conjures of a tall, rather ungainly and gangly-legged bird laying its eggs is hilarious; it’s a delicious punch that leaves the reader giddy.  
Like so many of Ogden Nash’s wise and witty verses, The Ostrich has stood the test of time, retaining all of its original fizz and pizzazz, and will no doubt continue to do so. Familiarity doesn’t dull it in any way.  On those grounds it is a poem that can undoubtedly be called a “classic”.

For more of Ogden Nash delights check out Candy is Dandy – The Best of Ogden Nash.
Carlton Books. Available on amazon. 432 pages for around £7. Do you have a favourite “classic” poem? Why not tell us about it!  -RS

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Flower Power

by Celia Warren

You probably know that a collection of poems by lots of different poets is called an anthology. But did you know that the root meaning of the word 'anthology' is 'a collection of flowers'? Poets use it metaphorically, but you could try collecting – or writing – your own anthology, or collection of flower poems? Now is a perfect time to start, when more flowers are coming into bloom daily, in the burgeoning spring.

Go and observe a flower closely and write down any thoughts, feelings, moods or words that come into your head inspired by the flower. Does it open and close at dawn and dusk, like the daisy (day's eye)? Can you blow its seeds to tell the time, as you can the dandelion? If you don't know the flower's name, look it up, or ask a knowledgeable grown-up. Here's one that I wrote, inspired by some kingcups growing in my mother's pond.

If you don't have any flowers nearby to inspire you, try and write your own poem about these. They are also called Marsh Margiolds – a nice alliterative name that you could use as your title.


Kingcups, kingcups:
Pond in the springcups
Make me want to singcups
Gold and silver ringcups

Kingcups, kingcups,
Brothers of the buttercups
Clear the winter cluttercups
In the dusk: shuttercups

Kingcups, kingcups
Nature's lovely blingcups
Lots of lovely kingcups …
But no queensaucers.

© Celia Warren 2011