Young poet

19th May 2000 at 01:00
* They shine like the moon.

I see them as amber.

I say to myself these dots on my plate are seeds.

They are strong like weight-lifters.

I think of them as gold, and hide them, and play the pirate's treasure.

* I print with them with my dad's paint in the studio.

At night I think of the potatoes as the sun sets behind the sea, and the nuts fall off the trees.

And when I dig them up I think of lovely lunches, and the colour yellow in the night.

Angharad Guy, 9, Ysgol Ffynnonbedr, Lampeter, Ceredigion

Michael Laskey, Friday magazine's guest poetry critic, writes: Asked for advice on what to write about, an American poet once replied: "Praise something. Praise anything." It's one of the best pieces of poetic advice I know. It's liberating. It takes you right out of yourself by encouraging you to look around at the world and relish it a little more.

Angharad Guy's poem celebrates the potato, a wonderfully "unpoetic" subject - and all the better for that. "Potatoes" has panache. And she's right of course - they do shine like the moon - they are precious: amber, buried treasure. She's accurate too. They may look like moons, but they are seeds. I like her playfulness, the shifts of perspective and imaginativeleaps she makes. Best of all, I love her weight-lifters line - potatoes are the strength they give us. They make us put on weight, and they look like muscles too, hard and bulging.

Does the last line refer subliminally to the first? Is the potato emerging from the black earth like the yellow moon against the black sky? Is it fanciful to see something faintly potato-shaped about the two eight-line verses? Maybe. But I must go and peel some for supper. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on them.

Angharad Guy receives The Puffin Book of 20th Century Children's Verse, edited by Brian Patten. Her poem was submitted by Nicola Davies. Michael Laskey founded the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 1989 and was its director for 10 years. His most recent collection, The Tightrope Wedding (SmithDoorstop), was shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, and include the poet's name and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or e-mail: TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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