TES Young Poet of the Week

11th April 1997 at 01:00
The US poet Elizabeth Bishop spoke of the "surrealism of everyday life". I think she was referring to the strangeness even mundane things take on when we look at them hard enough. Ordinary objects, places, people, even home, get a curious lustre of singularity when given the full blaze of our attention.

When I visit schools to work with students the one thing I never have to teach is this intensity of gaze and freshness of response that young people seem to bring naturally to looking at the world around them. It is harder though, to persuade them their vision is worthwhile.

Teachers often discuss with me the difficulties of giving children the confidence to believe in their own ways of seeing. I'm glad so many have succeeded, as shown by the many poems I've received that have just these qualities of observation.

The writers have chosen a range of subjects: friends, parents, oranges, rainstorms, dogs, beaches, paintings, politics, the environment. The breadth of their interests is astonishing but there is plenty of room for more poems on any topic, so please keep sending them in.

Over the next few weeks, you will find poems chosen from all sorts of schools and age groups. This week's is by James Madders. I like the way he starts bang in the middle of the action, immediately grabbing the reader's attention. He doesn't let us down, either, as the poem develops. We move through a series of surprising perceptions, from the tree - which has fainted - through to the final, staring image of the storm inhaling tiles from the roof. The wildness of the storm is mirrored by the wildness of these images, though there is a light touch, even a feel for comedy, emerging from the writer's real, nine-year-old, gleeful delight in mayhem.


Jo Shapcott is the Poetry Society's first poet on the Internet (http.www.PoetrySoc.com)

Thunder Shouts!

"Waagh!" wails my sister when she hears a crash; a tree has fainted in the middle of our drive.

Then glowing white veins shoot out from the sky while a car sprays past my window.

Outside thunder shouts which vibrates floor, then hail smacks forcefully against my window pane.

There is an angry silence, then the storm begins inhaling tiles off our roof!


James Madders, aged nine, receives Fatso in a Red Suit by Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Submitted by Ian Souter of Mowden School, Hove, East Sussex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teachers' notes. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2133

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