Young poet

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Me loggerhead

Me hide behind clouds and

Cause the rain to fall

Me sneak through the gutter

Up your garden wall

Me slither underground

And haunt the moon's shadow

Me swim cross deepest water

Me cross longest meadow

And if you don't like me

You'd better beware

Me make you bow

At the feet of Loggerhead.

Debo Adebayo, 11, Selwyn primary school, London borough of Newham

Debo's poem is pure mischief and disguises a beautifully controlled technique. Consider, for instance, how the poem is completely unpunctuated, yet it flows easily across the page through the use of precise line breaks.

The title of the poem is not only the name of the spirit or demigod, but a compact statement of intent to create mayhem. Written in idiosyncratic language that is part patois, part pure poetry, it achieves that most difficult and elusive of effects - a genuine sense of voice. There are echoes of "Ozymandias" here, but we sense a more cunning survivor than Shelley's vainglorious oracle.

The repetition of "Me" throughout is a declaration of presence and authority but so subtly deployed that it never palls. The verbs give the poem a tremendous sense of ovement - "hide", "sneak", "slither", "swim" - and are aided and abetted by an alliterative music rustling beneath. I loved the use of "cross" at the heart of the poem, how one form is abridged, the other complete; how meaning rocks between them yet creates that other sense of anger. Debo takes us back to the roots of poetry in incantation. There's something streetwise, likable and self-confident about this protean sprite. All the same, I wouldn't like to get on the wrong side of him.

Graham Mort

Debo Adebayo receives Strictly Private, edited by Roger McGough (Puffin). His poem was submitted by Ciaran Clerkin . Freelance writer and tutor Graham Mort is TES guest poet for this term. His latest collection, Circular Breathing (Dangaroo Press), is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. 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: friday@tes.co.uk 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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