Andrea Reece: Celebrating the CLiPPA 2021

Celebrating the CLiPPA 2021

Is there any prize more joyful than the CLiPPA? The CLiPPA highlights the best new poetry for children and, through the Shadowing Scheme, allows schools and children to get up close to the collections on the shortlist, turning thousands into lifelong poetry fans.

The celebrations for this year’s shortlist announcement were particularly exciting, even for the CLiPPA, a prize that regularly takes over the National Theatre. The five books were announced live on stage at The Globe, part of a day of magnificent poetry performances for this year’s Poetry By Heart project. Congratulations to Tim Shortis and Julie Blake for creating the event and delivering it so successfully.

Before the shortlist announcement, the audience was treated to performances from two of the winning schools in the 2020 CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme. First up were ten-year-olds Freddie and Zane from Swaffield Primary School, Wandsworth with their lively recitation of the poem Brother and Sister by Lewis Carroll, which appears in A. F. Harrold’s collection Midnight Feasts. (Both boys, incidentally, claim they thoroughly approve of the poem’s concluding moral: ‘Never stew your sister’.) Then, with a ‘Boom-ba-da-Boom!’ seven-year-old Benji from Norwich Road Academy, Thetford performed Fireworks by Anna E. Jordan, which features in The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog, edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones. Benji says he loves the rhythm of the poem, which shows him how to read it.

After that it was time for this year’s chair of the judges, Allie Esiri, to take to the stage to announce the 2021 shortlist. And it is (deep breath), alphabetically by poet:

Slam! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This, chosen by Nikita Gill, Macmillan
This inspiring collection, curated with great skill by Nikita Gill, brings together ‘some of the fiercest voices in British verse’. It’s a book to excite young people about the potential of poetry, say the CLiPPA judges.

Bright Bursts of Colour, Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff, Bloomsbury Education
The poems in Matt Goodfellow’s collection range from the silly to the sensitive, and all will resonate with children aged 7 – 11. The judges loved Matt’s dynamic representations of real-life experiences, and clear understanding of a child’s sensibilities.

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann, Penguin
Compelling, powerful, and authentic, Manjeet Mann’s verse novel speaks directly to its YA audience. The judges loved the fresh voice and how a form used by Coleridge is made new.

Big Green Crocodile Rhymes to Say and Play, by Jane Newberry, illustrated by Carolina Rabei, Otter-Barry Books
Beautifully presented and perfectly illustrated, this collection of new nursery rhymes is a perfect post-lockdown book, allowing grown-ups and small children to connect.

On the Move, Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Walker Books
On the Move is both personal and universal, with messages of home, identity and family. Full of emotion, delivered with a perfect sense of understatement, words and illustrations provide readers with spaces to pause and consider.

Poets Jane Newberry, Manjeet Mann, Matt Goodfellow and Michael Rosen were there to read poems from their shortlisted collections, icing on the CLiPPA cake!

The winner will be announced on 11th October alongside the launch of the 2021 Shadowing Scheme. Do explore the books on the shortlist, because each of these collections reminds us what the best poetry for children can do, which is of course the point of all the CLiPPA celebrations. 

This year’s judges are poets Zaro Weil, 2020 CLiPPA winner with Cherry Moon; Amina Jama, whose debut poetry pamphlet A Warning to the House that Holds Me was published by Flipped Eye Press in 2019; Julie Blake, co-founder and Director of Poetry By Heart; and Charlotte Hacking, Learning Programmes Leader at CLPE.

Andrea Reece

Andrea Reece reviews for Lovereading4Kids, is managing editor of Books for Keeps and the children’s programme director for the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival. A former manager of National Poetry Day, she is very happy to be working now with CLPE on the CLiPPA

Steven Camden: Left Handed Hammer

Left Handed Hammer – I Never Dreamed of Being a Writer

“Do me a favour and fetch a left-handed hammer, Stevey”.

It was my first day on the building site and I was eager to impress. My best friend’s uncle Uthan had given me the job as a favour and, as I brushed my teeth that morning, I promised my reflection I wouldn’t let him down. Uthan and the other builders were all seasoned veterans so, as we started preparations to lay raised decking and someone me asked me to fetch a left-handed hammer, I ran off to the van determined to do just that.

Half an hour later, I was still crouched in the back of the old Vauxhall Bedford, holding a different hammer in either hand, desperately trying to decide which one felt more ‘left-handed’.

If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still hear the polyphony of their gravelly laughs when I returned holding both.

The lesson I learned that morning (apart from never trust anyone on your first day on a building site) was that I’m not great with tools.

Fifteen years later, standing on the stage at the National Theatre in front of a few hundred people, blinded by spotlights, holding the trophy for the CLiPPA award for poetry 2019 in my hands, the three words glowing neon in my mind were, ‘left-handed hammer’.

Image: © Ellie kurttz courtesy of CLiPPA

(Maybe that’s two words, technically, I mean, I’m not fully sure how it works with hyphens).

I never dreamed of being a writer.

Not in the sense of never dreamed it would be possible, I mean I literally never dreamed of being a writer. I had no plan. There wasn’t and isn’t a magical place of recognition or status I’m trying to get to by writing. I am not interested in the ideas of prestige or critical plaudits. What interests me about writing, is how stories can be used to help unlock ideas and possibilities in others.

It’s the thought of someone seeing me as a writer who comes from a background and heritage similar to their own and feeling that their voice now seems more valid to have a place in the world that gets me going, or the characters and worlds I create starting conversations between people about lives and circumstances not always discussed, or maybe just the simple idea that the approachability of my work might spark the confidence in someone to have a go at writing themselves. That’s the most exciting thing about writing for me.

I see my published writing as a tool to initiate these connections. A tangible thing to hold, open, read, share and discuss. A means to let voices be heard. A left-handed hammer to use however you like.

Image: Ellie kurttz, courtesy of CLiPPA

Winning the CLiPPA felt lovely in terms of being recognised as a writer of subjective quality. It felt like a confidence boosting rubber stamp from an organisation and individuals I respect.

But, most of all it felt exciting as a way to potentially share my tools with more people than ever and hopefully inspire them to build worlds of their own.

Steven Camden aka polarbear

 

Birmingham born Steven Camden (Polarbear) is one of the most respected spoken word artists in the UK. Performing his work internationally since 2007, Camden has graced stages from Kuala Lumpur to California.

His debut poetry collection ‘Everything All At Once’ was published by Macmillan and won the CLiPPA Poetry Prize 2019.

Among other successes, He was co-writer and script mentor on the Akram Khan Company’s Olivier Award winning production DESH as well as script writer for LIFT festival’s acclaimed production TURFED.

He has written three Young Adult novels for HarperCollins, TAPE (2013), It’s About Love (2015) and Nobody Real (2018).

His first young people’s theatre piece MOUTH OPEN, STORY JUMP OUT, received five stars reviews and is currently on its fifth international tour, with the follow up DARK CORNERS set to tour internationally in late 2019.

He is currently working on his next novel for Harper Collins, a new coming of age feature screenplay and an adult TV drama for World Productions.

Steven spends a large chunk of his time in schools and working with community groups, devising and leading creative projects and sessions, sharing his own unconventional process, hoping to spark minds into using story as a means of expression and collaboration across all boundaries.

 

Andrea Reece: Celebrating Poetry from the CLiPPA Until National Poetry Day, 3rd October

Celebrating Poetry from the CLiPPA Until National Poetry Day, 3rd October

National Poetry Day was honoured to attend the award ceremony for the fabulous CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) at the National Theatre on 3rd July. And what an afternoon it was! An excited audience of poetry fans enjoyed superb live performances not only from the shortlisted poets – Steven Camden, Kwame Alexander, Rachel Rooney, Eloise Greenfield and Philip Gross – but from the pupils of five primary schools who had each shadowed the award. Groups of children, plus one solo performer took to the stage to give enthusiastic and accomplished performances of favourite poems from the shortlisted collections. By turns funny, touching, revealing, poignant and powerful, these poetry performances effortlessly filled the huge auditorium of the Lyttleton Theatre. Here again is proof of the creativity that poetry releases in children not to mention the confidence (the Lyttelton seats over 800) and of course the sheer joy.

We at National Poetry Day want every child in the country to experience that same rush of excitement that performing poems for others brings. Equally importantly, we want to encourage every young person to write their own poem ready to perform on National Poetry Day. That’s why we were delighted to announce the launch of #MyNPDPoem as the culmination of the CLiPPA ceremony.

Created in association with CLPE and with the support of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), #MyNPDPoem encourages schools everywhere to create poems, performances, displays and even special books.

This year’s National Poetry Day theme is Truth, and #MyNPDPoem invites students aged 6 to 13 to express the truths that matter to them, in poems. Topics might be the truth about your family, or your school; nature might provide inspiration, provoking a poem about the truths the natural world reveals; perhaps you’ll want to share a hidden truth about yourself and the way you feel about the world; or maybe you’ll want to explore the opposite of truth – lies!

National Poetry Day ambassadors Michael Rosen, Rachel Rooney, Joseph Coelho, Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Karl Nova have created special films filled with tips and poetry writing prompts all of which are available now on the NPD website nationalpoetryday.co.uk while a resource pack by CLPE gives teachers everything they need to get the most out of this new project.

Once children have written a poem or poems on the theme of truth, schools or teachers can share the best on National Poetry Day by tagging pictures on
Instagram or Twitter with #MyNPDPoem. We’d love it if schools choose to hold their own poetry show on National Poetry Day by inviting everyone to perform their poems aloud and there’s a special certificate for every young poet available for download from the National Poetry Day website. Schools who really want to celebrate their pupils’ writing can even publish the poems as a book for pupils to take home to show their friends and families, using Scholastic’s We Are Writers scheme.

This year is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day, and we’d like to make it the biggest ever. Every school who takes part in #MyNPDPoem will be part of those national poetry celebrations, celebrations that began at the CLiPPA, and that might just carry on for lifetimes.

Andrea Reece

Andrea Reece works for the Forward Arts Foundation as manager National Poetry Day. Andrea is the one in the middle in the top picture!

National Poetry Day Website.