I am delighted to introduce the second issue of Tyger Tyger Magazine, which launched on 16 May with twelve leaping, loping, kicking, crawling, slithering, splashing poems on the theme of Animals. We’re also calling for submissions for our next issue – see below for further details.
There is lots to learn in this Animals edition. ‘Tightrope Walk Team’ by S. J. Perillo is a mischievous list poem which revels in the unusual and exquisite names of different species. In his poem ‘Is a zebra like a horse?’, Will Birkin decisively answers the question of whether you can ride a zebra in a funny, rhyming investigation. And Sue Lancaster’s ‘Tail Tales’ invites us on a hugely enjoyable whistle-stop tour of different animals and how they use their tails, from squirrels to geckoes to kangaroos.
There are questions to ask, too. L. Kiew’s ‘Otter Questions’ wonders about the life of an otter, plunging us into her world using rich language and resonant kennings. And Annie Fisher challenges us to guess the slow, gooey creature whom gardeners fear, in her riddle poem ‘Who?’…
Cats are well represented in the selection. ‘The School Cats’ is a deeply imaginative and playful trio of poems by Catherine Olver, introducing us to three mysterious resident cats who have merged with their school environment. ‘Honey, best cat in the world’ by Michael Shann is a warmly lyrical and conversational poem about a beloved lost pet who helped and still helps the speaker through difficult emotions. And there’s a stray dog too, a noble and heroic character looking for a friend in Zaro Weil’s moving mini epic ‘Stray Dog in Havana’.
‘I Am Fionnula’ by Sophie Kirtley is a beautifully lyrical lament, a fresh take on the age-old theme of human-to-animal transformation, based on the Irish legend of The Children of Lir. Fionnula has been changed into a swan, but she still has her voice… Imaginative transformations also take place – suddenly and thrillingly – in Julie Stevens’s ‘Tickets to Ride’. The poem lets us in on a secret: that you can travel anywhere, to any animal habitat, if you use your imagination and creativity to find the ‘tickets’!
Mark Granier’s haunting poem ‘The ____saurus’ echoes with the roar of a mysterious, nameless dinosaur, still burning bright in our dreams. Meanwhile, at the other end of history, Jacqueline Shirtliff gives voice to a range of sea creatures urgently requesting that we sort out the issue of plastic in our oceans, in her rallying environmental poem ‘Too Many Bottles’.
Thank you to my fantastic editorial team, Rakhshan Rizwan, Helen Steffens and Kate Wakeling, and thank you to the poets for their wonderful poems. As before, all of them are available as free poem-posters, which you can download and print out. There are also free teaching resources to accompany ‘Tightrope Walk Team’, ‘Tickets to Ride’, and ‘Who?’, all aimed at children in Key Stage 2. There are ideas for exploring the poems and inspiring creative responses, and stylish templates to print out so that pupils can write up and display their finished poems.
Tyger Tyger Magazine is also currently open for submissions of new poems for children on the theme of The Colour Spectrum, until 30 June. This will be our autumn edition and we wanted to nod to the famous seasonal colours whilst keeping the theme open to every hue, and any approach. Send us poems of art, science, history and emotion – we can’t wait to read them!
Rachel Piercey is a poet and tutor, and the editor of Tyger Tyger Magazine, an online journal of poems for children. She has co-edited three children’s poetry anthologies with the Emma Press, taught several courses on writing children’s poems for The Poetry School, and regularly performs and runs poetry workshops in primary schools. Rachel has written a poetry search-and-find book, If You Go Down the Woods Today (Magic Cat, 2021), and three pamphlets of poems for adults.