Rachel Piercey: Introducing Tyger Tyger Magazine, Issue 1: Beginnings

Introducing Tyger Tyger Magazine, Issue 1: Beginnings

In my last post for the blog, I announced the launch of Tyger Tyger Magazine, a new online journal of children’s poetry. The first issue has just launched, and I would like to introduce the twelve poems we ended up choosing, from a wonderful pool of submissions, along with short extracts and some of my thoughts on these lovely pieces.

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The delightful ‘Assembly’, by Rob Walton, puts us in the shoes of a child who just can’t stop asking questions. They may come across as cheeky, but we can see that they are genuinely probing at language and meaning.

We have an Assembly about new beginnings.

I put my hand up and ask if it’s possible

to have old beginnings

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‘In the beginning’, by Carole Bromley, perfectly captures that feeling when a small fib gets out of control. The resolution of the story is gleefully undermined by its last line, and we start wondering about truth and lies all over again…

[…] it was just a little fib

but it GREW.

Nobody checked the facts,

nobody knew.

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‘Indian Cradle Song’ by Piu DasGupta reflects the circular, interconnected nature of Earth with its beautiful circular structure. It is a poem of mighty contrasts and song-like repetitions.

The earth’s crust begins in the ocean  

The ocean begins in the moon-tides […]

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‘Blueberries’ by Jérôme Luc Martin is a triolet with an empowering message for young readers. The repeated blue whales / blueberries image delights and surprises me every time I read it!

Start small, if you begin at all.  

Blue whales begin as blueberries.

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Hilary Elder’s ‘Catching a Yawn / Catching a Wave’ compares the experience of yawning, line by line, to a cresting wave. Together, the poems form a sort of living simile.

The wave caps,

Catching the bottom of the sky

And it holds on, on tippy-toes.

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‘The Morning is Quiet’, by Robert Schechter, explores how quiet is just as complex and alive as noise: the lion may not be roaring, but it’s still there!

I think there’s a riot

of hush in my ear […]

Illustration: Imogen Foxwell

‘New Baby’, by Paula Thompson, warmly captures a child’s thoughts about the arrival of a new sibling. As baby paraphernalia fills the house, doubts and anxieties fill the speaker’s mind.

I’ll have to share

            their love; my stuff.

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Andy Nuttall’s ‘The Platform Clock’ thrums with the excitement of train travel, conjuring a child’s sense of scale, potential and adventure. There’s a timeless, fairy-tale quality to the poem.

Up the line the track is singing;

Silver rails are faintly ringing.

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Sarah Ziman’s speaker in ‘In-betweener’ is interested in the philosophy of beginnings – because it’s the summer holidays, and they’ve finished year six, but not yet started year seven…

Well, here is a puzzle I can’t seem to fix

Am I in year seven? Or still a year six?

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In Amlanjyoti Goswami’s ‘Seeing it new’, the speaker also stands poised between the old year and the new, feeling suddenly nervous. The poem explores different understandings of a ‘new’ year and ends with a line of exquisite beauty.

But that door is knocking. I hear a bell.

Wait, I shout, not time yet […]

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‘On Your Marks…’ by Jay Brazeau is a poem of joyful exuberance and highly satisfying repetition, firing the starting pistol for everything from bakers to bedbugs. Definitely one for performance!

runner, runner

              ready, set, go!

baker, baker

              ready, set, dough!

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The final poem, ‘Night’s Begun’ by Lisa Varchol Perron, soothes us with beautiful imagery and an abundance of ‘s’ and ‘l’ sounds, leaving us on the threshold of a gentle new adventure in dreamland.

Stillness settles, soft and deep.

Quiet lulls and leads to sleep […]

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I am so happy with this beginning for Tyger Tyger Magazine. Thank you to my fantastic editorial team: Rakhshan Rizwan, Helen Steffens and Kate Wakeling. Each poem features on a free, downloadable poem poster and there are teaching resources to accompany ‘On Your Marks’, ‘Blueberries’ and ‘Catching a Wave / Yawn’. Happy New Year and happy reading!

Rachel Piercey

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 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. https://tygertyger.net/

Rachel Piercey: Tyger Tyger

Introducing Tyger Tyger Magazine

I am thrilled to introduce Tyger Tyger Magazine, a new online journal of poems for children which will soon be accepting submissions for the first issue. Establishing a magazine of children’s poetry is something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time – and now I’ve finally taken the leap.

© Imogen Foxell

Once a term, Tyger Tyger Magazine will publish twelve poems on a shared theme, by contemporary writers from across the world. Selected poems in each issue will come with free teaching resources, and each poem will be available as a free, downloadable, printable poster. I love how the walls of primary school classrooms are always bright and bustling with creativity, and this will make it easy to add a poem or two into the mix. I want these poems to roar in as many dimensions as possible!

© Imogen Foxell

I really hope this will be welcome news for writers of children’s poetry. Poets who write for adults have a vast number of submission opportunities, and I know myself how helpful it is to have a focus for new writing, and how exciting it is to see your work appear in conversation with other new poems. It’s also exhilaratingly easy, as a reader of poetry, to find magazines full of brand-new poems to be stirred, entertained and astonished by. But if you write poems for children, there are far fewer opportunities. And I believe it’s equally important for children’s poets to have a direction, testing ground and showcase for new work. Jonathan Humble has recently launched a children’s poetry magazine too – the gorgeous Dirigible Balloon, already sailing with lots of lovely poems – so there are at least two new places to submit this year. I hope more and more children’s poetry magazines will open up in time!

© Imogen Foxell

The name Tyger Tyger comes, of course, from the poem by William Blake. As soon as it occurred to me, I knew I’d found my title. The real-life creature stalks inside it: wild and mighty, precious and playful. For those who know Blake’s poem, it conjures awe-filled questions about existence. The archaic spelling gifts a twist of strangeness. And there’s the sense of an echo or an invocation in the repetition, which is one of my favourite poetic devices. Blake’s tyger makes you feel something powerful and so do the poems I love best, and which I want to publish in the magazine.

I am extremely lucky to have a wonderful editorial team around me: Rakhshan Rizwan, Kate Wakeling and Helen Steffens. I have spent countless happy hours talking about poetry and writing for children with these incredible women, and they bring a vast range of expertise to the magazine, as readers and writers and lovers of children’s literature. I am excited and honoured that they will be helping me to choose the poems for each issue.

© Imogen Foxell

The artwork for the magazine is by the hugely talented Imogen Foxell. She was the first artist I thought of – I’d encountered her work via The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, and her magical, characterful illustrations exactly chimed with my vision for the magazine. I absolutely love the logo and the tygers she has created; they are compelling creatures, full of dreamy majesty and mystery, and they pounce and prowl off the page.

The website will be fully launched soon, with details of the first call for submissions, and the first twelve poems will launch in January 2022. In the meantime, you can sign up to the mailing list to keep up to date with new issues and submission opportunities. You can also follow Tyger Tyger Magazine on our new Twitter account, @tygertygermag. Join in and help us to burn bright!

Rachel Piercey

Rachel Piercey writes for adults and for children. Her poetry picture book, If You Go Down to the Woods Today (Magic Cat, illustrated by Freya Hartas), came out in March 2021 and has been translated into nineteen different languages. Her latest poetry pamphlet is Disappointing Alice (HappenStance Press, 2019). www.rachelpierceypoet.com