I’ve recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Eric Ode (ericode.com), an American singer/songwriter and poet. I knew he’d be the perfect person to read my poem “Wanted Alive: New Teacher For Cowboy School”. This poem appears in my new book, “What Are You Like?”. I think he has done an excellent job for me. Thanks, Eric! I thought it would be a good one for the theme of National Poetry Day this year, which is “Change”. National Poetry Day is on Thursday 4th October 2018.
If you click on the orange arrow in box below, you should be able to hear Eric reading my poem with his wonderful cowboy drawl.
Please use the contact form on the books page to order copies of ‘What Are You Like?“. The book was published on 23 February 2018 by Orange Socks Press.
Over 80 tried and tested poems that Bernard regularly uses in primary schools for poetry performances and workshops. Collected together from four books and several anthologies, together with some previously unpublished. Funny, catchy, uplifting, foot tapping, hand clapping, in lots of verse forms and lengths. Something for everyone.
ISBN 978-1-9999173-0-2 Price £5.99 (+£1.80 P&P UK)
In May a group of poets got together and recorded some videos of our work. Thanks are due to Liz Brownlee for organising it and to Pete Brownlee for recording and editing the videos.
This is me performing my poem, Love Is Blind:
This is the out-takes from all of the videos:
Here are the photos from the Junior Road Safety Officers event in Durham on 13th June 2018. The photos are great and all taken by Lee Dobson. There are a few of me and the poetry workshops below. More about getting the road safety message across through poetry in Durham schools here.
A great message in a shop window in Barnard Castle
I’ve done a lot of work over the years in schools promoting the Road Safety message using poetry. People ask me how does that work? Well, the Road Safety officers of the council block book me and then make the arrangements with a number of schools where they want to get the message across about things like crossing the road carefully, riding a bike wearing a helmet, encouraging adults not to speed (20 is plenty)… I visit with the Road Safety Officers and we have a fun time with a serious theme. Examples of some of my poems that I use for these kind of workshops are on my Road Safety Poems page, but we also get children to write and perform their own.
I’ve had 2 such weeks in June funded by Durham County Council and I have another in September. So far I’ve visited the following Durham and Barnard Castle primary schools: Finchale, Framwellgate, St Godric’s, Blue Coat, Green Lane, St Mary’s RC and Montalbo Nursery and Primary School.
It was such an enjoyable time with great work from the pupils and enthusiastic teachers. We produced some particularly good class poems with music accompanied by guitar.
As part of this block of work, I also performed and led a workshop at a Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSO)* event at County Hall in Durham, with pupils and teachers from 12 Durham schools, officers from Durham County Council, the Mayor and Ron Hogg (the Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary). It was a fantastic celebratory event of the work of the JRSOs over the past academic year. We split up into 3 groups with 20 JSROs from the different schools in each. A Road Safety Officer facilitated each group, and 3 group poems were produced in under 30 minutes and then performed at the event. The standard was excellent.
* Schools nominate a minimum of two Year 5 and 6 pupils to be junior road safety officers for their school. Their job is to spread road safety messages by running competitions, speaking in school assemblies, creating noticeboards and organising campaigns. (https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/6548/School-road-safety-schemes)
On 22nd May, the anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack, I am looking forward to a day of creativity with E-ACT Blackley Academy to celebrate everything great about Manchester.
I’ll be performing some of my poetry to the whole school at the start of the day, then working with Reception children to compose poems celebrating Manchester.
In the afternoon I will be with a group of KS2 children and the plan is to write a school poem celebrating Blackley Academy itself.
Our thoughts will, of course, be with all of those who were affected by that awful event.
I Love Manchester CC-BY-SA Transport Pixels https://flic.kr/p/arpsFZ
Bees CC-BY Duncan Hull https://flic.kr/p/XRyGmV
National Poetry Day, your chance to enjoy, discover and share poems you love, will take place on Thursday 4 October 2018. This year’s theme is Change: use it to start thinking about your celebrations now. Maybe you would like a poet to visit your school and help things along (if so, contact me)? For more information about National Poetry Day and useful resources see: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/
Here is a poem of mine for people who are thinking they might like a change of career. This poem is in my new book of poems for children ‘What Are You Like?‘.
Career Opportunity: Knight Required
Are you brave, honourable
Do you like wearing metal suits
and enjoy being called Sir?
Then this could be the job for you.
Your duties will include
wielding a sword, jousting
and clanking about.
Preference will be given
to those candidates
who come equipped
with their own warhorse and squire.
If you think
you’ve got what it takes
turn up for an interview
and show us what you can do.
NOTE: Candidates will be left to fight
it out amongst themselves.
Castle Management accepts no responsibility
for loss of life or limb.
I had the pleasure of meeting Christina Gabbitas at the Between the Lines Children’s Literature Festival in Sheffield on 24th February. We were both leading sessions. She asked me to be one of the judges of a poetry competition that she is organising, and I agreed. The competition is open to young people aged 7-14. The closing date is 30th April. Schools or individuals can submit poems. Selected poems will be published in a lovely book. Full details are here: http://www.christinagabbitas.com/competition/
I don’t choose cheese or chicken
I don’t touch marzipan
Chocolate’s my addiction
I indulge whenever I can
I gobble it for breakfast
I guzzle it for tea
Choc-a-block with chocolate?
Send for me
I may not have my own teeth
I may be overweight
But as a chocolate-chewing chomper
I’m not just good – I’m GREAT!
Please don’t prohibit chocolate
Don’t impose a chocolate ban
‘Cos I’m a chocoholic
A desperate dangerous man
And I need chocolate – NOW!
This poem is in my new book, ‘What Are You Like?’. For signed copies of my book, please contact me via the form on the books page.
Some more chocolate pictures to make your mouths water:
World Poetry Day (21 March each year) celebrates and promotes the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry worldwide. The day was declared an official observance day by UNESCO in 1999. But as many countries already had established traditional National Poetry Day’s around October time, this worldwide celebration receives very little publicity in those countries, including the UK. (National Poetry Day is Thursday 4 October 2018 in UK and the theme is Change). I say, the more poetry days, the merrier.
“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.”
“Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.” (UNESCO website)
You could celebrate World Poetry Day in your school by learning about poems from different cultures, including from pupils’ own cultures. Or investigate different forms of poem, such as the Japanese Haiku or the Arabic Ruba’i.
Here are some teaching resources online that you may find useful:
On Friday 2nd March I spent an enjoyable day at Summerville Primary School in Salford. This was my third Patron of Reading visit to the school in a year, and was timed to be linked to World Book Day. The pupils were excited that I was there again (and so was I). We were building on previous work and now have a rewarding ongoing relationship. It creates a buzz in the school. It is a pleasure for me that I am now seeing familiar faces.
The young people remembered that last time I visited it was anti-bullying week and we had written some odd socks poems. They were keen to tell me that they had worn odd socks the day after I was there.
On this visit, I read poems from my new book, “What Are You Like?”. In the classrooms the pupils asked me questions about being a writer. We talked about the pleasure and importance of reading. Most of the children said they are keen readers. I told them how my parents read to me when I was young and that was what got me interested in reading myself and becoming a writer. I told them that writers were first of all readers.
I think other schools could learn a lot from this Patron of Reading scheme. Inviting a guest into the school several times a year is a good investment to give an extra dimension to the lessons. The on-going relationship reinforces the learning from the previous visits, refreshes ideas in the pupils’ memories.
So thank you Summerville staff and pupils. I look forward to the continuing rewarding Patron of Reading relationship.
What is a Patron of Reading?
A Patron of Reading is a school’s special children’s author, poet, storyteller or illustrator. The school and their patron develop a relationship over a period of time. Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school: book quizzes, blogs, book recommendations, discussions, plays, poetry bashes, blogs, book trailers and visits. The possibilities are virtually endless.
First mooted by head teacher Tim Redgrave, the idea has now spread to almost 200 schools across the British Isles. Find out more: http://www.patronofreading.co.uk/