Poetry for Change: A National Poetry Day Anthology

by | Jul 21, 2019 | Book Review, Poetry

Book Details

Poetry for Change: A National Poetry Day Anthology
Various authors, illus. Chie Hosaka, Burley Gate: Otter-Barry Books, pb, 978 1 91095 950 3, 2018, £6.99, 96pp.
Poetry, 7+ years

The format of this book follows previous ‘stuff in your bag’ small books on recycled paper for children to carry with them and enjoy just by reading or sharing with friends.

In the forward by Susanna Herbert, Director, National Poetry Day (NDP) and Forward Arts Foundation, she explains ‘This book contains 43 poems – more than half are freshly written by living poets, the rest include classics that they want to share with you.’ The book was produced for NPD October 2018, ‘seeking poems to pin on walls, to copy and  share – and to spark off new poems in the hands of fizzing brains of young readers, writers and performers.’ The back of the book gives ideas for engaging with poetry, e.g. ‘Create a poem from words in a newspaper’, ‘Learning poetry off by heart, ‘Reading aloud.’ Below is an example from one of the poets.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill’s poem ‘Sunflower’ starts with a perceptive description of the plant:

Her grandfather always said
that everything she’d need
was beneath the grey of its shell;

the signposts of winter would come
from its height, the strength
of its spine, how long it resisted
before nodding its head to the wind.

When she left, she took nothing
but the seeds, their rattle in the tiny
tin better than money;…

The poet then writes a bit about herself: ‘When people find out I left Iran as a child during the Iranian Revolution, we often end up talking about what I took with me on the journey to America. This poem [Sunflower] was written with this question in mind…

Her chosen classic poem is Emily Dickenson’s ‘Dear March – Come in – ‘. Gill explains:

I chose this poem…to accompany mine because although ‘Sunflower’ is about sunflower seeds, it is also about the potential for change, how we can’t control its timing or know what it will bring us.…

Here are a few lines from the first verse:

Dear March, how are you, and Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much co tell –

Chie Hosaka’s illustration here captures aspects of both poems.

Illustration © 2018 Chie Hosaka

The above example is a taster of this excellent book. What an imaginative idea and so much food for thought! It will appeal to all ages, including adults.
I hope Otter-Barry Books will reproduce this structure each National Poetry Day with another relevant theme to catch the imagination of its readers, be they at school, in an occupation or at home.