Just a few days until the launch of The Dirigible Balloon on August 1st. We have 32 lovely poems from a dozen excellent poets with subjects that range far and wide … we have Einstein’s theory of relativity explained, a plea to rehome some mythical creatures, a knight of old without the correct underwear, the dangers associated with a wombat’s bottom, dancing dinner ladies, tips for trainee tiger teachers, a poor school report for a superhero and much much more.
For this exciting journey, we chose a crew we knew would join in with all the various important jobs and preparations needed to get our lovely balloon off the ground and up into the summer sky. So, for your information, here are their roles and responsibilities for the flight …
Colin West … looking after the elephant
Piu DasGupta … social secretary & left sock washer
Helen Openshaw … foggy weather sonic mountain avoider (megaphone provided) who also liaises with the social secretary to help organise morale boosting sing-along sessions
Sarah Ziman … Spanish omelette maker & map reader/ pathfinder
Julie Anna Douglas … bagpipe whisperer/ tamer
Brian Moses … parachute packer, altitude advisor & mouse dissuader
Carole Bromley … co-basket weaver & balloon ambassador
Linda Middleton … co-basket weaver & Mongolian throat singer
Jacqueline Shirtliff … chicken wrangler, balloon provisions & weird creature spotter
Rhiannon Oliver … in charge of all knots & button stacking
Templeton Moss … balloon rigger & tea/coffee trolley operative
Chrissie Gittins … albatross spotter & intercom flight announcer
I shall, of course, be earning my passage by taking on the responsibility for right sock washing and steering the dirigible.
When the balloon crew aren’t working hard, thousands of metres up in the sky, they occupy themselves as follows:
Templeton Moss: Templeton grew up in and around San Diego County, California in the U.S.A. He lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky, but considers Disneyland to be his hometown. He started writing because he thought it would get girls to like him. He has written many plays, novels, short stories and poems and his hobbies include naps and cartoons. Templeton dislikes manual labour and country music.
Piu DasGupta: Piu is a British/Indian/French writer living in Paris, France. She has written and published adult books and is currently working on a children’s novel. She writes both adult and children’s poetry and her children’s poetry has been published in magazines such as The Caterpillar and Northern Gravy.
Chrissie Gittins: Three of Chrissie Gittins’ five children’s poetry collections were selected for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf and two were shortlisted for the CLiPPA Award. She appeared on BBC Countryfile with Adder, Bluebell, Lobster and Stars in Jars is a Scottish Poetry Library recommendation. Chrissie won the Belmont Poetry prize and was a Manchester Children’s Literature Prize finalist. Her poems feature on Cbeebies, the Poetry Archive and are widely anthologised. She has judged the Caterpillar Poetry Prize and is a National Poetry Day Ambassador.
Rhiannon Oliver: Rhiannon is an actress, writer, workshop leader and mum from Cardiff. She graduated from RADA in 2004 and has performed with companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, The National Theatre, BBC and Sky 1. Rhiannon started sharing her poems in Spring 2021 and has upcoming publications in Nawr Magazine, and anthologies with Nine Pens Press and Arachne Press. In June 2021, she was named Spoken Word Runner-Up in Poetry for Good, a national poetry competition celebrating key workers. She has recently started writing poetry for children and is currently working on a rhyming middle grade adventure story.
Sarah Ziman: Sarah is originally from Wales, now living in Hertfordshire. She prefers to write poetry for children, though thinks that the best poems can be enjoyed by people of all ages. She has twice been highly commended in The Caterpillar Poetry Prize, and won first prize in the 2021 YorkMix Poems for Children Competition. Her work has appeared in The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems published by Macmillan, various magazines and websites.
Colin West: Colin lives in Battle, East Sussex. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration and has written and illustrated over 50 children’s books. His poems have appeared in anthologies by Roger McGough and Julia Donaldson. He now writes purely for his own pleasure and enjoys collecting old books, mainly of poetry.
Carole Bromley: Carole was born in Middlesbrough in the UK and lives in York. She writes for both adults and children and her poems have been widely published in many different magazines. She has had pamphlets and collections published and has also won a number of competitions, including the Bridport, the Yorkshire Open, Torbay, Poetry Space and the Bronte Society Literary Prize. Her poems for children have been published in The Caterpillar, in her collection, Blast Off! and in anthologies from MacMillan and Emma Press.
Linda Middleton: Linda is a lifelong lover of writing and began sharing her passion for rhythm and rhyme last year. Her work can be found online and in magazines, including The Caterpillar and Pure in Heart Stories. She enjoys supporting children with their learning and teaching RE in a primary school in a leafy corner of England. In her spare time when she is not writing, she can be found wood wandering, beach strolling and ice cream tasting.
Jacqueline Shirtliff: Jacqueline is a primary school teacher on the Isle of Man. She is passionate about instilling a love of poetry and reading in the children she teaches and encouraging them to be writers themselves. She lives with her husband and youngest son in a rose-covered cottage near the sea, and when she’s not teaching or writing she enjoys gardening, crochet and playing the tuba and harp, but not all at the same time!
Julie Anna Douglas: Julie Anna has been writing poems for as long as she can remember and many of them have found homes is beautiful magazines like The Caterpillar, Ladybug and Spider and in poetry collections by The Emma Press and MacMillan Publishing. She particularly enjoys combining poetry and art in workshops for children and her first poetry collection ‘Painting Poems’ illustrated by Jools Wilson is full of colourful poetry and creative ideas. Her next book is full of poetry maps and will be out soon!
Helen Openshaw: Helen is a Drama and English teacher from Cumbria. She enjoys writing poetry and plays and inspiring her students to write. She has had a short monologue commissioned by Knock and Nash Productions. Recently published and upcoming poetry work in Secret Chords by Folklore publishing, Green Ink Poetry magazine, Open Door magazine and Fragmented Voices.
Brian Moses: Brian is an English poet who writes mainly for children. He has over 200 published works and has given over 3000 performances of his poetry and percussion show. His poetry books and anthologies for Macmillan have sold in excess of 1 million copies. He was asked by CBBC to write a poem for the Queen’s 80th birthday and was invited by Prince Charles to speak at Prince’s Summer School for teachers at Cambridge University in 2007. Brian is Co-director of the Able Writers’ Scheme which he founded in 2002. Brian can be contacted at brianmoses.co.uk
Jonathan Humble: Jonathan lives in Kendal, Cumbria. His work has been published online and in print in a number of magazines and anthologies. His first collection of poetry (My Camel’s Name Is Brian) is available through TMB Books and Maytree Press have published a further collection (Fledge) in 2020. His poems for children have been shortlisted and highly commended in the Caterpillar and Yorkmix poetry competitions. He was the resident Poet in a Fridge for BBC Radio Cumbria’s Poetry Takeaway during last year’s BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in Carlisle.