Dirigible Balloon Update August 25th, 2021

We are coming to the end of August and the successful poets who submitted work for the September flight have had their poems uploaded. Many have supplied sound files, some of which needed converting to MP3 format, some of which needed a little processing for volume levels and noise reduction. Those poems without an audio will have one supplied before the September term begins in schools so that any kids struggling with their reading will still be able to access the work.

It is probably fair to say I won’t be uploading quite so many for October (fifty new poems a month will become unmanageable on a regular basis), but the truth is that the quality has been amazing. It is also an interesting fact that a significant number of poets did not read the submission guidelines carefully … something which may need to be considered when deciding on choosing a reduced cohort for October.

There have been a few pictures offered but not as many as I’d hoped. Thank you to David Oates, Chris White, Colin West, Siân Rees-Holden, Emma Clarke and Jacqueline Shirtliff for their lovely artwork. I mustn’t forget to mention Shiva Asemi as well, who sent a marvellous picture for Piu DasGupta’s poem in the August flight (What Are Little Girls Made Of) to add to her excellent picture accompanying Sarah Ziman’s Granny and Grandad poem.

Those poets who were successful and included in the September flight have been listed below, accompanied by their author biographies for your information:

Michael Rosen
Michael grew up in the London suburb of Pinner. His parents were teachers, great storytellers, readers who went on to become university lecturers. As an adult, Michael has been a freelance writer, teacher, journalist, performer, broadcaster and university professor. He loves football and is a passionate supporter of Arsenal FC. He has written and edited over 200 books for both children and adults. He is well-loved in schools by pupils and teachers for his wonderful stories and poems which include Quick Let’s Get Out of Here, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (with Helen Oxenbury). In 2007 he was appointed Children’s Laureate, a role which he held until 2009. While Laureate, Michael set up The Roald Dahl Funny Prize which later became the Laugh Out Loud Award (the Lollies). Michael and his son Joe have created a YouTube Channel – ‘Kids’ Poems and Stories with Michael Rosen’ which has had over 100 million views. His latest book, published by Ebury Publishing, is titled Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS.

David Bleiman
David is a grandfather and poet living in Edinburgh. He loves to write across the languages and his first pamphlet, This Kilt of Many Colours (Dempsey & Windle, 2021) is a multilingual mixter-maxter in English, Scots, Spanish and Yiddish. This celebration of David’s Jewish heritage includes the prizewinning Trebbler’s Tale, written in a partly excavated but largely reimagined lost dialect of Scots-Yiddish. With the sense of humour of an overgrown schoolboy, David is now writing childish poems for himself and other children.

Nina Parmenter
Nina is the mother of two imaginative boys, and writes poetry for people of all ages. Her children’s poetry has previously appeared in Better Than Starbucks, and her light poetry has appeared in Lighten Up Online, Light, and Snakeskin. To the ongoing disappointment of her friends, she also continues to write less amusing pieces which have been widely published in magazines and online journals. Nina lives in Wiltshire, UK and is a huge fan of the countryside, cake and laughter.

Carol L. MacKay
Carol is a Canadian writer, living near beach and forest on Vancouver Island. Her stories and poems for children appear frequently in children’s magazines, most recently in The Caterpillar, Highlights, Cricket, Ladybug, High Five and Babybug. Carol loves to write nature poems. In 2020, she was awarded the Society of Children’s Book Authors & Illustrators (SCBWI) Magazine Merit Award for Poetry.

Carmen Tiderle
Carmen is poet in chief at Funny Rhymes for Funky Times Inc., a copywriter and also Dora and Roman’s mother. She lives in Bucharest but she wrote her many poetry books for children (in Romanian) while travelling to the township of Joyville and the West Pole: Turvy-Topsy, funky rhymes for funny times (also in English), The Township of Joyville, West Pole Stories, The Great Outside, Who put pepper in the sea?, Selfie with the elves, The Glue Factory … poems translated by Victor Ghiga.

Julie Stevens
Julie writes poems that sometimes reflect the impact MS has on her life. Her poems have been published many times online and in print. Her poem If I Can’t was a winning poem in Bespoke Verse’s National Poetry Day competition 2019. She has two published pamphlets, Quicksand (2020) and Balancing Act (2021).

Shaun Jex
Shaun is a writer from Dallas, Texas. He previously worked as editor and journalist for the Citizens’ Advocate newspaper. His work has also appeared in publications like Celebrations Magazine and Old School Gamer Magazine.

Huw Gwynn-Jones
Huw comes from a line of prize-winning poets in the Welsh bardic tradition, but until his recent retirement to Orkney, had never written a line himself. His work has appeared in Amethyst Review’, ‘Marble Poetry’, ‘One Hand Clapping’, ‘Drawn to the Light Press’ and ‘Dreich Magazine’. His debut pamphlet ‘The Art of Counting Stars’ will be published later in 2021.

Robert Schechter
Robert‘s poetry for children has appeared in Highlights, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, The Caterpillar, and numerous anthologies published by Bloomsbury, National Geographic, Macmillan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Emma Press, Otter-Barry, and others. Robert also writes adult light verse and translations of poetry, and is the most recent winner of both the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award. His verse also appears in The Washington Post and The Spectator. He edits the children’s poetry section of Better Than Starbucks.

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.

Lyn Fenby
Lyn is a lifelong writer and adventurer based in York in term time and in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE in the holidays. She has spent 15 years living overseas in places like Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the UAE. She was a journalist for many years but most recently worked as a primary school librarian in Malaysia before returning to the UK to complete her PGCE in Primary Education.

Fiona Halliday
Fiona has enjoyed and written poetry all her life. She has fond memories of family members sharing poems with her from a very early age. Fiona has taught in primary schools, across the age range, for the last twenty years and specialises in literacy. She loves language, learning and laughter. She also likes alliteration! When she isn’t teaching, reading or writing, Fiona enjoys playing the flute, spending time with her family and drinking copious amounts of tea!

Mark Bird
Mark lives in London but is originally from Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. He is a teacher and children’s writer. He has been published in Brian Moses’ recent anthology: The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems as well as by Gill Education and The Caterpillar Magazine. His poem, “Halloween Date from Hell” is due to be published by Ventorros Press in 2022 and will be illustrated by Chris White.

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.

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.

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 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.

Niall M. Oliver
Niall is an Irish writer who lives in Co. Derry with his wife and sons. His pamphlet ‘My Boss’ was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press last year, and he has had poems in Acumen, The Honest Ulsterman, 192 Magazine, Fly On The Wall Press, Ink Sweat & Tears, and many others.

Gaynor Andrews
Gaynor is a primary teacher who has taught in schools across the UK, as well as Thailand and France. Gaynor loves the rhythm of language and she has a particular passion for rhyme. She is a member of SCBWI and her picture books are represented by Kate Scarborough, Tyilds Agency. Gaynor was long listed for the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award, shortlisted for a flash fiction entry and a winner in Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words competition.

Sally Roberts
Sally is an English Teacher living and working in Puglia in the South of Italy. She writes poems and short stories for both children and adults, some of which have been published in The Caterpillar, Glasgow Review of Books, Cultured Vultures and daCuhna. At the moment, she is writing about short films for the magazine Short Focus. She enjoys working with children and swimming in the sea as much as possible.

Paula Thompson
Paula wrote her first story aged seven on her mum’s old typewriter – and has been writing ever since. As a newspaper journalist she has written for a variety of publications, but her true passion is creating poems and stories for children (you might have seen some of them in The Caterpillar magazine). She recently graduated with distinction from The University of Winchester’s MA in Writing for Children and is very excited to take flight on The Dirigible Balloon!

Daniel Page
Daniel lives in Aylsham, Norfolk, and writes poetry for children about school life, history, science and the natural world. His work has been published in the ‘Places of Poetry’ anthology and several online journals.

Tom Moody
Tom writes poetry and fiction for both children and adults. He lives in Southampton and is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. When he is not writing or studying, Tom likes to read, play his guitar, and watch his beloved Southampton F.C. lose.

Michael Heyman
Michael is a Professor of Nonsense at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been known to perform his poetry for children self-accompanied on the baritone diddlemaphone. His stories and poems can be found in The Puffin Book of Bedtime Stories, The Moustache Maharishi and other unlikely stories, This Book Makes No Sense: Nonsense Poems and Worse, and Poetry International. He was also a judge for the Lion & the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry.

Kev Payne
Kev grew up with a love of books, comics and cartoons which inspired him to draw. He loves bringing ideas to life and, as a former primary school teacher, has a keen interest in educational ideas. His first book, ‘B is for Blobfish’, was inspired when planning a science lesson and features a wide range of unusual and unloved animals. Alongside illustration, he writes stories, poems and creates animations and interactive games. He‘s also a town crier and 4th generation Punch and Judy man – Oyez! Oyez!

Elizabeth McGeown
Elizabeth is a Pushcart nominated poet from Belfast in Northern Ireland. She has been published in journals including Banshee, Abridged and Riggwelter. She won the Cúirt International Festival of Literature: Spoken Word Platform 2019 and the Cursed Murphy Spoken Word Prize 2019. In 2021 she was longlisted as ‘Best Spoken Word Performer’ in the Saboteur Awards. Her first poetry collection will be published by Verve Poetry Press in 2022.

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