Sea Creature People We Love

Today, Wednesday, we imagined people we love as sea creatures. I’m just going to let these couple of poems speak for themselves.

My GranddadHe held his head up high like a seahorse,
walked as slow as a turtle,
sat in front of his television in his best clothes.
He kept saying,
I want to go, I want to go.

He was gentle
and liked playing with you.
If you were upset
he gave you cuddles.
He laughed if you bobbed your head.

(Toyah Scott)

My MamWhat reminds me of her
are pink, fluffy slippers,
straighteners and black handbags.
Her favourite words are,
I love you.She’s always in a happy mood.
If my Mam were a sea creature,
she’d be a fast blue dolphin.

(Sara Wilkinson)


And wasn’t it great to have the Head sharing our work on this web blog today, (Wednesday, 20th April). Thanks Mr. Leonard, hope you didn’t cry that much that you made another sea.

They’re Very Definitely Talking!

What a day we had at Barnard Grove on Monday. We looked at a poem by Colin McNaughton, called ‘I’m Talking Big’ and then had great fun converting it to a poem about ‘Talking Sea’.

Absolutely everyone did brilliantly with this one! Wish I could put them all up, but a person needs her rest sometimes you know, even if the answer to ‘You wouldn’t want me to be up all night typing would you? is a resounding yes! (Glad to see you all care so much about me! 🙄 )

So, here’s two poems, but well done everybody – they were all great on this theme.

Should be plenty of writing to put into the boxes you’re all making with Gilly. Beach on Friday, yeah!!

I’m Talking Sea

I’m talking sea
I’m talking weed
I’m talking seaweed
I’m talking with jelly
I’m talking fish
I’m talking with a jellyfish
I’m talking sea
I’m talking gulls
I’m talking seagulls
I’m talking speed
I’m talking boat
I’m talking speedboat
I’m talking crashing
I’m talking waves
I’m talking crashing waves
I’m talking head
I’m talking land
I’m talking Headland.

(Jodie Sibbald)

I’m Talking Sea
(after Colin McNaughton)

I’m talking anchor
I’m talking boat
        and ball and beach and beacon
    and buoy!

I’m talking crashing
I’m talking current
I’m talking crabby and candyfloss.

I’m talking dive and dunes and eel.
I’m talking fathom and foam and froth and
I’m talking flotsam and float.
I’m talking front and flotilla and fishy.

I’m talking gulls and ghost carp.
I’m talking haul and hand and island.
I’m talking ice cream and jellyfish.
I’m talking anchor.

(Bethany Anderson)

Still Beached and Salty

It’s Monday, 18 April and yet again here at Barnard Grove Primary School, we’ve had to cancel our beach visit because of the weather. Still living in hopes for this Friday coming!

The good news: I’ve got permission to publish some of the children’s poems on this site, so, look out for Sara’s Poem and here is our class poem ‘Beach Buoys’ written to the rhythm of my own Boro Babe poem which the children love. Well done to the whole of Class 9! You worked hard on this poem:

Beach Buoys
(after Boro Babe, by Maureen Almond)

We’ve got, salt in our hair and, rough sea,
sand in our shoes and, big waves,
ships in our bones and a, fish tea.
We’re the beach buoys.

We’ve got, sand in our socks and the, Headland,
huge, white waves and, big fret,
big, scary sharks and, mermaids.
We’re the beach buoys.

We’ve got, old, crabby gulls and, ice cream,
a tall lighthouse with a, bright beam,
sharp, electric eels and, seaweed.
We’re the beach buoys.

We’ve got, boats and a dock and, candyfloss,
a bright, blue bucket full of, starfish,
a cool sea front and, salty rocks.
We’re the beach buoys.

We’ve got, everything you’d want from a, sea town,
yes everything you’d want from a, sea town.
We’re the beach buoys. 😀

Keep watching this space – more to follow!


Well we were beached on Friday, or should I say we weren’t beached and that was the problem!

My fellow artist Gilly Rodgers and me were due to take a class of Barnard Grove Primary School children to the beach yesterday, (part of the Tidal Words Project), but the rain was like stair rods (as my grandma used to say), so, having planned exactly what we would do, what we would look for, what items we might try and gather to make story/poem boxes, we had to cancel at the last minute. Let me set the scene: a coach standing by, no other definite lesson planned, 28 excited kids :'( that’s it, you’ve got it!

Anyway, we set to and made sea fortune cookies and wrote a group poem called ‘Beach Buoys’, which is all about what it’s like living in Hartlepool. I’d love to put this poem up here, but haven’t as yet, got permission from the school. The children, despite their disappointment, worked really hard. Watch this space, if I can,I’ll put their group poem up soon. 😉

Night out with the Boys

I’m off for a night out with the boys -do you know how long I’ve wanted to say that to my husband! well I finally got the chance last Thursday 😀

As part of my North Lodge Park residency in Darlington I decided to visit the Boys Brigade, (my grateful thanks by the way, to Peter Waistrell, for allowing me to do this)

What a fantastic group of lads they are. When you meet young men like this it makes you feel so happy, because young people get such bad press – but these lads, they were great and they didn’t even know in advance that I was coming.

I wanted them to share their views and feelings about what it’s like being a teenage boy right here and now in this area of Darlington. They wrote some great poems. (I might put one or two up here later if I get their permissions)

Peter tells me that this Company was the first in Darlington and that it’s been running for over ninety years.

My night started off by watching the young ‘Anchor Boys’ in their bright red jumpers, running around and playing with a parachute. But it was the Company Section and the Senior Section, the boys in blue, I worked with on Thursday – thanks lads. You were great.


My second session with Barnard Grove School started off quite well this morning. Taken with the idea of our impending visit to the Headland Beach on Friday coming, one little girl brought in some shells to show me, ‘all the way from the Indian Ocean’ she said. They were pretty I must admit, and very unusual. I was so thrilled to think that she had gone home and talked about what we’d done on Monday.

Then another girl came in and said, ‘my dad was checking up on your website last night’ not sure what conclusions ‘dad’ drew if any, but good to hear that parents are taking a real interest.

So far, so good you might say. Then it came to this afternoon. We went over to the IT suite to type up poems about Hartlepool which they’d written this morning. A young lad tried to ‘help’ me to help another pupil, but he was telling me things I already knew. Now, I know so little about computers, that when I do know things, well I get a bit pleased with myself, so I said , yes I know that darling, thank you. He looked at me – one of those long lingering looks that you know is just going to be followed up by something smart and he said, ‘you’re not dumb you are you’ he left a gap, just long enough for me to feel dead chuffed with myself, then added, ‘you’re old, but you’re not dumb’ Having seen the reflection of this crinkled ‘shell’ in the mirror this morning,:( I had to agree with him, I had no choice, but I drew the line at answering his next question, ‘how old are you anyway’. There are some questions a girl just doesn’t want to answer.

We’re all getting excited about our beach visit, which is coming up this Friday. Watch out for those white horses lad.

Buttery and Spreadable

I’ve had my first session at Barnard Grove School in Hartlepool. This is part of the Sea Britain project, (here in the North East it’s called Tidal Words) – anyway, as I was saying I had my first session on Monday.

After the usual introductions about who I am, what poets do and trying to convince the children that I’m not incredibly rich, we got to creating our own sea dictionaries. I was encouraging them to think of sea words with double meanings. I gave them ‘anchor’. Obviously they knew about ships’ anchors, but I was looking for something else – somthing to do with being held down, stable, other such poetic stuff when one little wag put his hand up, ‘I know one’, he said, ‘could it mean buttery and spreadable?’

It’s such a treat working with children.
Roll on tomorrow.

Confused Poet – Yarm

I’m not having a very good couple of days. My webmaster has put my Ode to Pope John Paul on my site and it seems all of you can read it, but it won’t come up on my computer! and yesterday I had two meetings, one was like stepping back into the past, the second, well it’s a world I don’t understand – more later.

Firstly the past: I spent a really interesting couple of hours with Brian Barker at Teesside Uni where we viewed lots of old film from the Uni archive. Mostly I’m researching so that I can construct some interesting writing workshops for some students at King’s Manor School in Middlesbrough and the Uni has some wonderful old film about Teesside life. But of course I’m always interested in Thornaby and was in my element looking at old film about the railway station, plus proper trains with STEAM!!

Now the world I don’t understand. Apart from the frustration of a missing poem from my website, the time I spent yesterday with Steve Thompson, also of Teesside Uni, (you all know him, ‘Digital Man’, ‘Blog Man’, ‘Song Writer’, ‘Computer Guru’ he’s all of those things as well as a brilliant ‘sound man’, almost pushed me completely over the edge. I had to listen to him telling me to ‘hold my control’ then ‘refresh myself’, (believe you me, ‘fresh’ was the last thing I felt), then, to add insult to injury, he set up a little camera on his desk thatlooked like a space alien with a large head and three skinny legs. He didn’t tell me about this, but recorded all my confusion about websites, e-mails, blogs, radio blogs, frames that are frames, but only sometimes, then played it all back to me! Mind you, I forgive him because he’s produced a lovely CD of me reading poems from ‘The Works’ and he’s put a soundtrack underneath which sounds really good.

I won’t even bother to tell you about the interruption we got from a ‘Radio Sculptor’ in the middle of all this techie stuff – and that’s another thing – I’ve just tried to include the confused ‘smiley’ to add to this note and it’s coming out like this :-/ See what I mean, everything technical I touch turns to rubbish. Still my poet colleague in Oxford has received my hands and has decided to use them with an extract of poem I sent him – so that’s good. Anyway, I’ve decided to give you a poem here on my blog.
Seeing the old film of Thornaby Railway Station yesterday reminded me of one of my poems from ‘The Works’, just opposite what’s now the Student Union Bar and overlooking Thornaby Railway Station was:

The Kissing Place

an erogenous zone
at the nape of a narrow-neck bridge
on the other side of the tracks.

There, pressed up against brick
hard on my back,
the tunnel of his mouth round mine,
I’m steaming

way beyong Redcar,
past Saltburn,
past everything my parents know,
out to sea
to a foreign place I’ve never been before
past the ear-splitting shuggy-boat swings;
beyond donkey sweat
and candy-floss stickiness.

– out of Punch’s reach
jumping from baby-teeth street
straight into the crocodile’s mouth –
that’s the way to do it.

Yes, that’s the way to do it girl,
that’s the way to do it.

Give a Hand

Right, I’ve just posted off six photocopies of my left hand to a poet friend, Sean Burn. He’s doing a text/visual/sound/performance piece based loosely on the Universal Charter for Human Rights, (why did he want my left I wonder!) Anyway, that’s the kind of thing us poets do for/to each other.

Other than another couple of meetings with the ‘Friends of North Lodge Park’ and trying to encourage them to be as mad as me and write about holly leaves as if were elf shoes, I’ve not been rushing around too much this last week – good job, because the labrinthytis has flared up again, so I’m dizzy in every sense of the word.

As I say, I’m back to pondering the sea and it got me to thinking about why some beaches have sand and some don’t. The only conclusion I’ve come up with is that some beaches are older than others, so the waves have had a longer time to move the particles back and forth and make them into smooth sand. If anybody knows any other explanation post it below, I’d be grateful.

I’m back with my Foggy Furzers on Monday night and also meeting up with Stuart and Alex who’re doing a special adaptation of ‘The Works’ book for me to take into schools. (i.e. a version with the rude poems taken out), though it will include ones about old fashioned Fairy soap, poss tubs and days of no telly. Kids in school now don’t believe you when you talk of days when there was no electricity. Oh but I remember them so well. The gentle hiss of the gas mantle; hand figures on the wall in the flickering light of a real coal fire; a big mug of Ovaltine…. sorry, where was I….

Back to reality and the sad news that The Pope died at half past eight this evening. I wrote an Ode about him just a few months ago, it hasn’t been submitted or published anywere, what a shame. He was a lovely man and I’m sure he was more than prepared for this, his final journey.