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If you wanna be a poet...

... you gotta zigazig ha with the new Bardd Plant Cymru

OLD-FASHIONED nursery rhymes should be replaced with a bit more "zigazig ha", a line in the Spice Girls' catchy track Wannabe, to turn today's children on to words.

So says Wales's new Bardd Plant CymruChildren's Poet Laureate Caryl Parry Jones. The woman tasked with making prose, poetry and lyrics accessible to all young people in 2007-8 said: "Singing about little pigs sitting on stools in farmyards is important but we have to move it on."

Ms Parry Jones, a seasoned musician, intends to encourage children to make their own CDs. Such is her belief that children should love words that she is even willing to overcome her reservations and let them listen to the Spice Girls' track.

"While I don't like listening to children singing the lyrics 'If you wanna be my lover you gotta get with my friends', it does have that 'zigazig ha' thing which is like the nonsensical language of nursery rhymes of old," she says.

"If parents sing pop songs to their children, better that than switching on a singing teddy so they can get back to watching Big Brother."

The mother-of-four from Flintshire, now living in Cowbridge, is best known for her work as a singer-songwriter. On the Welsh music scene she has been in a number of bands including Sidan and Caryl a'r Band.

Ms Parry Jones has also contributed to a volume of poetry inspired by her life in the school corridor. She was named the new Bardd Plant Cymru at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Carmarthenshire on May 29. Schools can book her to help with children of any age or ability, but this week she opened the National Eisteddfod in Mold with a concert entitled Rhythm.

"Writing lyrics is a form of poetry," she said. "It's something I've done from an early age and I was lucky to have excellent teaching."

A former pupil at Ysgol Mornant, Ffynnongroyw, Ms Parry Jones says she was encouraged to write creatively. She was further motivated at Ysgol Glan Clwyd in Abergele.

"I want to show children how language can go beyond ordinary conversation into stories and a fantasy world."

However, she is not happy that so far she has had no bookings from any special schools for the autumn term and urges them to get in touch. Outside the classroom, she saluted JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, for turning children on to reading.

She said: "Harry Potter has made the written word fashionable again especially for boys but now the series is finished. I'm a big fan of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson books they are hysterical. We need an equivalent for boys."

* To book Caryl Parry Jones contact Academi on 029 20 472 266

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