Review … Head in the Clouds

Head in the Clouds by Charlie Bown

Published in Chasing Clouds … Adventures in a Poetry Balloon (The Dirigible Balloon and Yorkshire Times Publishing 2022) Illustration by Em Humble

Teacher says,
Get your head out,
Right out,
Out of the clouds.

Nothing good can come
From having a head
Stuck in the clouds,
He says.

Before I take my head
Out of the clouds
I look around,
Around at the clouds.

And I see magicians
And dancers.
I see movers
And makers
In the clouds
I see mysteries for solving
Stories for telling
Challenges for taking
Lives for saving
Questions for wondering
And my head
In the clouds,

Exactly where it belongs.

I think we’ve all been there; those unavoidable occasions so mind bogglingly boring that the only escape is to switch off and daydream. How many times has your focus slipped and your mind wandered off to imagined realms far more interesting than reality?

I am no expert but I believe, in moderation (like drinking coffee or red wine), the process of daydreaming is beneficial to health and wellbeing. Somewhere there will be a learned paper analysing the brainwaves generated during those occasions when one is away with the fairies.

I strongly suspect that daydreaming is linked with regenerative bodily functions like sleep or meditation. I have my own theory and would like to share it with you but I am writing a detailed treatise which I fully intend to present to the Royal Society of Biology sometime when I’m not too busy.

The problem is that opportunities for children to trip out have been severely curtailed by a number of government initiatives over the last decade. Since the current government abandoned the implementation of the ‘Creative Curriculum’ (thoroughly researched by experts in 2009 and resulting in the Rose Review) in favour of the ‘Knowledge-Rich Curriculum’ (developed on the back of a fag packet by the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP) things have got progressively worse for daydreamers.

Detailed dissections of the grammar in poems by primary school pupils became the norm expected by OFSTED. Occasions for the simple enjoyment of the words and feelings generated (or God forbid, children engaged in the creative writing of their own poems) were as rare as good ideas in a Tory thinktank.

Without the spectre of SPAG exercises (spelling, punctuation and grammar) following hard on the heels of any poem encountered, the validity of the experience was considered worthless in some less enlightened educational establishments.

Well, here’s the antidote to such wrong-headed thinking.

Head in the Clouds by Charlie Bown captures the joy and wonderfulness that can be found in poetry written for children. Simple and direct, it encourages creativity, individuality and fun in learning. It is part of a collection of poems that take the young reader on an imaginary balloon journey filled with adventures and thought provoking encounters, stimulating their imaginations and enriching their experience. Written by poets ranging from the very well known and established to those who are at the beginning of their creative careers, the work in Chasing Clouds … Adventures in a Poetry Balloon (published by Yorkshire Times Publishing) is very well represented by Charlie’s excellent poem and illustrated beautifully throughout by Em Humble.

I am biased of course. I love Head in the Clouds and every other poem and illustration in the anthology.

I would recommend that Charlie’s work is read by any educationalist who parrots the idea that ‘nothing good can come from having a head stuck in the clouds’.

Take a trip on a poetry balloon, why don’t you? Have a good look around while you’re there. You’ll find the company is utterly joyful and the view from up in the clouds is marvellous.

Jonathan Humble


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