Young poet

10th November 2000 at 00:00
Melting butter over the toaster

Josie Williams, aged 12, Maharishi school, Ormskirk, Lancashire

Melting butter over the toaster

Harry waking me up licking me on the face

The phone ringing late at night, with john fuller on the other end

Being caught reading harry potter under the cover with my torch

Mum and Dad honking in the car telling me I'm going to be late for school,

My curtains being too thin to stop the summer light, The hair-dryer stopping after five minutes,

My bin over flowing,

Going for a walk with my Dad along the Canal,

Not making my bed,

Being able not to miss anything.

List poems are fun and an excellent way of showing the impact of images, words, even names if they are used in that context. They help children understand that there is always more in their imagination but it sometimes needs time to tease it out. They also show children the power of grouping objects, memories, observations.

Lists, written well, take on a life of their own and tap into the cantatory aspects of poetry. Lists are how we remember, after all, and in a poem they can be like time capsules. Each item chosen adds another element to the story we are telling and builds up a picture. On one level, this appears to be a poem about everyday, small irrtations or conflicts but on another it is about living life to the full, as the final line states.

I like the way Josie has brought names into the poem: John Fuller, Harry the dog, presumably, the other more famous Harry - Potter.

Furthermore, the details in this poem are so well observed that I found myself ticking them off on my own irritation scale.

What a great title too. It contains texture, taste and smell and could so easily be the start of a brilliant day or a day when you wish you hadn't got out of bed.


Josie Williams receives Strictly Private, edited by Roger McGough (Puffin).Her poem was submitted by teacherCliff Yates. Jackie Wills is poet-in-residence at Lever Brothers in Kingston upon Thames. Her second collection, Party, is published this month (Leviathan). Her first, Powder Tower, was shortlisted for the 1995 T S Eliot Prize. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email:

The 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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