Why I love the CLiPPA
By 2020 judge Tracey Guiry, director of the Poetry Archive
Winning the CLIPPA (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award) is an ambition for any poet writing for children. Prizes can give a fantastic boost to a poet’s profile; the publicity around the winning of a major prize can increase a poet’s visibility to new audiences, such as the children and families who want to read their poetry, as well as a greater profile amongst the festivals, educators and organisations who might help them share their work to greater numbers of people. To have an external group of industry peers judge your poems and to find them prize-worthy offers an important sense of value and legitimacy to a poet’s efforts.
Judging this year’s entries was a delight. To be able to spend days immersed in bright verse and beautiful images is always a joy and this year’s shortlist contained something for all ages, from brave realism through to sheer playfulness. The poetry was wonderful, but what stood out for me this year was also the design and production of the shortlisted books, where you could see and feel the investment of resources, love and care which went into making these collections beautiful things in their own right.
The full shortlist is:
Midnight Feasts. Tasty Poems chosen by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Katy Riddell, Bloomsbury.
We found this a delicious and quirky collection of poems old and new, skilfully curated and perfectly paced.
Poems the Wind Blew In, Karmelo C. Iribarren, illustrated by Riya Chowdhury, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, The Emma Press.
This is a book to carry around with you, proof that poetry is ideas, thoughts and emotions captured in words.
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones, Walker Books.
What a wonderfully varied collection of poems! It will speak directly to young children and is full of beautiful examples of the craft of poetry
Wain. LGBT Reimaginings of Scottish Folklore, Rachel Plummer, illustrated by Helene Boppert, The Emma Press.
We admire the fresh voice and take on something that could have felt archaic but is made to feel new.
Cherry Moon, Zaro Weil, illustrated by Junli Song, ZaZaKids Books/ Troika Books.
A meditative and beautifully paced collection; Weil presents beautiful snapshots of the natural world and has thought carefully about the form for each.
The Poetry Archive is loving this recent boom in children’s poetry. Our Archive contains recordings of poets reading their work aloud, including recent CLiPPA winners and shortlisted poems, which we keep forever and share freely with anyone visiting our website. When it comes to getting children excited and engaged with poetry we believe in the profound benefits to be had from listening to poetry read out loud. Our dedicated collections in the Children’s Poetry Archive, at www.childrens.poetryarchive.org, has seen visitor numbers more than treble in the last three months. As our Patron, Michael Rosen said, “The magic of audio is that the poems leap from server straight into the ear, so that the rhythms and tones of poems just happen inside our heads – just poems, doing the stuff that poems do, which is entertain, intrigue, engage, mystify, excite or lead us to ponder and wonder in a million different ways.’
Poetry belongs to everyone, including children and if you enable a child space to develop their own love of poetry they will find a natural affinity with the sheer playfulness of language which poems present. Children love to share the things they love, so we wanted to empower children to take control over what poems they wanted to listen to and share with their families and friends. Our Children’s Archive is designed so that primary-aged children can easily and confidently explore thousands of poets and poems by themselves. And children love to get involved in poetry with adults s, as well as in classrooms and with their families. This year the use of our ‘distraction free’ mode, which switches off all imagery and other noises in the website so that only the poet’s voice can be heard, has grown in leaps and bounds. and shows that children’s enjoyment of poetry and the choices they make around it as sophisticated as poetry-lovers of any age.