The year’s best poetry for children: the CLiPPA shortlist 2020

This year, National Poetry Day and the announcement of the shortlist for the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Education Poetry Award) coincided. Established in 2003, the CLiPPA is the UK’s only award for published poetry for children and has done huge amounts to champion children’s poetry. Previous winners include Steven Camden, Karl Nova, Kate Wakeling, Joseph Coelho, Michael Rosen, Rachel Rooney and Sarah Crossan.

This year’s shortlist reflects the extraordinary vitality of the UK’s poetry publishing for children in 2020. There are two books by the Emma Press, one from fellow independent Troika Books, one from Bloomsbury and a beautifully illustrated collection from Walker Books. The shortlist will be celebrated at a special Poetry Show coming live from the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Friday 9 October and open to all schools. Hear five poets perform from the shortlisted collections, watch author and illustrator Chris Riddell draw along and find out who has won the 2020 award, live! There will be news about how schools can be involved in the CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme too.

Find out more about the CLiPPA

This year the judges are poets Valerie Bloom and Steven Camden, winner of the CLiPPA 2019, alongside Tracey Guiry, director of the Poetry Archive and Charlotte Hacking, Central Learning Programmes Leader at CLPE.

The judging appears to have been an enjoyable experience. Steven Camden, poet, winner of the 2019 CLiPPA commented: ‘I was pretty nervous going into the judging meeting because I felt really strongly about my choices. My favourites on the list really affected me and I was apprehensive about fighting their corner with people I didn’t really know. Within five minutes it was clear that those books that touched me had touched the other judges just as strongly and what followed was a gorgeous celebratory conversation of some truly stunning creations. What a treat and privilege.’

Here’s a look at the five books on this year’s shortlist.

It’s the Middle of the Night

I’m slipping on my slippers and I’m slipping out of bed. I creep into the kitchen ’cause I’m wanting to be fed.

It’s the middle of the night and there’s no one else around so I can eat what I like and I eat what I’ve found.

There’s half a pound of butter and there’s half a loaf of bread. There’re several dozen kiwi fruit – I shove them in my head

through the hole in the front that I like to call my mouth and I swallow them directly and they’re all heading south.

There’re kippers in the fridge and there’s treacle on the side – I dip the one into the other and I send them for a ride.

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Midnight Feasts. Tasty Poems chosen by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Katy Riddell, Bloomsbury

Food is the one thing that unites us all – across time, nations and peoples. From chocolate, rice pudding and sandwiches to breakfast in bed, marmalade in the bath and the fruit of a mythical jelabi tree, in Midnight Feasts A.F. Harrold brings together a wonderful and diverse collection of poems to tickle your taste buds. Poets include Ian McMillan, Brian Patten, Choman Hardi, Imtiaz Dharker, William Carlos Williams, Salena Godden, Joseph Coelho, Sabrina Mahfouz, Lewis Carroll, W.S. Gilbert and A.E. Housman, as well as A.F. Harrold himself.

The CLiPPA judges say this is a delicious and quirky collection of poems, skilfully curated and perfectly paced. They loved loved the voice too and found the pictures are a perfect fit. ‘It felt like being woken up at night, and being allowed to stay up – a treat!’

10 Books for Keeps National Poetry Day 2020

Poems the Wind Blew In, Karmelo C. Iribarren, illustrated by Riya Chowdhury, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, The Emma Press.

These poems reveal the magic in small, everyday things: a plastic bag dreams of becoming a could, raindrops go on holiday to the sea, and hats fill up with thoughts. The book builds an immersive, tender world and encourages the reader to look at the world around them with delight and wonder. Poems the Wind Blew In won an English PEN Writers in Translation Award.

The judges said that this is a book to carry around with you, proof that poetry is ideas, thoughts and emotions captured in words. They liked the space given to the poems and the contrasts – the way there’s something sad next to a moment of lightness. @It shows that poetry doesn’t always have to be melancholy, it can just catch a slice of life.’

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