Young poet

28th September 2001 at 01:00
Cassie Clare, nine, William Patten school, Stoke Newington, London

On The Night I Was Born

On the night I was born, the universe spun.

On the night I was born, the stars were dancing.

On the night I was born, the skies were singing.

On the night I was born, my nan came to greet me.

On the night I was born, they gave me a blanket

made from dried unicorn's blood.

On the night I was born, my cot was

made of fresh wood.

On the night I was born, my special

name was "The Quiet One".

On the night I was born, they wished

for me to be an actor.

On the night I was born, the trees were swaying.

On the night I was born they said I was lovely.

Though some people are shy of being unduly influenced by another poet, or using them as a model, the tradition of engaging in dialogue with other writers has always been part of poetry's continuum. How good, then, to see young poets talking to each other through their work. Cassie Clare's poem was inspired by Tasneem Uddin's "On The Day You Were Born", previously published in The TES. Two poet-teachers, Jane Duran and Moniza Alvi, have used Tasneem's poem as a model in their teaching and it continues its life behind Cassie's poem. Here, the idea of the Nativity comes forward to show us how every birth is miraculous, holy, and unique.

In a universe of swaying trees, dancing stars, singing skies, Nan comes to greet the baby. The baby is quiet, lovely, sleeps in a simple cot, but she is also magical, special, and her birth makes the whole universe spin. The wonderful mixture of the very ordinary human statements and the imaginary and mythical dimensions of this birth I find enchanting. I wish we could all celebrate our births in such a spirit.

Mimi Khalvati Cassie Clare receives The Oldest Girl in the World by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Helen Ham. Mimi Khalvati is TES guest poet for the autumn term. She has published five collections of poetry, including her Selected Poems, published by Carcanet in 2001. A new book, The Chine, is due in January next year. She is the founder-director of the Poetry School in London. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, 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:

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