Monday, 27 January 2014

101 Poems for Children

101 Poems for Children: A Laureate's Choice
ed. Carol Ann Duffy
ill. Emily Gravett
London, Macmillan, 2013, 193p

It is a valuable skill for a poet to be able to create a succinct and engaging anthology of poetry. With so much choice, the editor must be very well read and able to create a flow through the various works of multiple artists, bringing them together in one book.

This is precisely what Carol Ann Duffy has achieved in 101 Poems for Children. The poetry comes from many authors over lots of countries across many centuries and yet it flows brilliantly. Each poem leads into the next one, without any breaks or bumps along the way.

And the selection is very entertaining, exploring tales about animals, families, seasons and journeys. There are some with rhyme and some without; some are short and some are long; but all are exceptional demonstrations of language and writing.

One of my favourites, which I had not read before, is one of Carol Ann Duffy's own: F for Fox, a lovely piece that uses the letter 'f' more times than I imagined possible in one poem! As she discusses in her introduction to the collection, children's poetry is often characterised by the rhythm and simple use of language. Recurring tropes include alliteration and simile, and writers use the full extent of poetic license to make up new words.

I've been dipping in and out of this collection over the last couple of weeks, and was sad when it came to an end; and not least because the last poem in the collection is about the wonder of libraries!!

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