Tell everybody a little about yourself
I write mainly but not exclusively for children – both poems and stories. Over the years, the majority of my writing has comprised educational resources to do with writing and creativity. My friend Bernard Young and I have just completed ‘The Poetry Handbook’ which will be published this autumn by Troika. I write the resources for the Poetry Place which is part of the Teachit website. www.teachit.co.uk/poetryplace
I’ve had a very varied career. My website www.mouseandmuse.co.uk tells all!
Was your creativity affected in anyway during the lockdown? Did being lockdown make you feel inspired or deflated?
Not really. The only negative aspect was that the regular performances I take part in (a group of musicians, storytellers and poets) ceased. That used to be a stimulus to write new material, often for two or more voices.
How did you occupy your time?
Writing, researching, gardening and decorating. I’m working on my father’s gardening diaries at the moment which involves both family and horticultural research.
What was the main thinking behind your poem submitted to Together Behind Four Walls ?
I have always liked Edward Thomas’s ‘Adlestrop’. I also enjoy writing parodies so the idea of linking the structure of the original to the current situation was quite natural.
What inspires most of your poems,
Most of my published poetry has been for children and is either inspired by experiences with or memories of them. Alternatively, a publisher or editor might ask for poems on a particular subject, in which case, it’s a metaphorical poke in the ribs: ‘get thinking!’
Do you have any favourite poems, from all the poems you have written?
It’s a toss-up between ‘Exploding Heads’ and ‘Sad I Ams’ – perhaps the latter, as it’s inspired so many other versions by writers young and old. For adults it would probably be one of the many sonnets I’ve become addicted to writing over the years.
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote or one of the first?
It was a dreadful piece of doggerel about my teachers.
Do you hand write poems or go directly on to your computer?
It depends where I am and what is to hand.
Do you do any other creative activities?
Yes, I draw in pen and watercolour and have illustrated some of my own work.
Do you only focus on poetry or do you also write prose?
I have written many short stories, especially for young adults. Sometimes the shortest ones (e.g. 300 words) aimed at teenagers with a low reading age, have been the hardest to write.
Do your poems ever have strong messages?
Not deliberately. I dislike being preached at so I try to avoid doing it myself.
If you had to write a poem about yourself, how would it start?
I used to know the road to me / but it has got overgrown / and now the way is hard to find….
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