Young Poet

11th September 1998 at 01:00
Make Me ...

I am a glowing star, make me the silver planet,

I am a dirty rag, make me the red carpet,

I am a piece of mattress, make me the four-poster bed,

I am a tiny match, make me the raging fire,

I am a hot light bulb, make me the flaming sun,

I am a flake of snow, make me the snow queen,

I am a clear raindrop, make me the colour-filled rainbow,

I am a shivering small girl, make me the powerful giant.

Tanya Colley

This poem caught my interest at once. Though it looks quite straightforward - and the language and structure are certainly clear and direct - every line is surprising. It is a series of oppositions, but not opposites. My favourite is "I am a flake of snow, make me the snow queen". We know that snow flakes are unique and beautiful, so it isn't merely a negative to positive wishing. And the poem opens "I am a glowing star", which is confident enough for anyone.

The device of moving from indefinite to definite article is the key to why the poem makes a kind of coherent sense, even when we can't be sure what each line means: she is only "a glowing star"; she wants to be "the silver planet". The poem's logic is intriguing because it seems to work itself out as it goes along.

"Make Me" seems almost a prayer but is feisty even so and has authority. The last line comes close to being perhaps over-explanatory, but it was a risk worth taking. The poem is confidently expressed and in places quite beautiful.

Tanya Colley, aged 13, receives 'The New Poetry', edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley (Bloodaxe). Submitted by Mrs B J Harpham of Garibaldi School, Mansfield, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send poems to 'The TES', Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Ann Sansom is writing tutor at Doncaster Women's Centre and is a part-time lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. Her collections include 'Romance' (Bloodaxe)

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