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Tuesday 12 December 2017


Last week I had the pleasure of leading a workshop with teenagers, on behalf of NASACRE - the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education. The aim of the workshop was to use poetry to explore the theme of 'religious bullying'. I am proud and honoured to be able to share the following wonderful poem, produced by Anjumia from Azhar Academy in London, during the workshop:

Poem by Anjumia
My problem is not what comes out of your mouth,
Not the lies you live by.
I am not bother by your perception of me,
Because I am worth more than this body you are quick to judge.
This outfit, my figure is a distorted shadow,
I have two countries growing within me.
I wear my religion like a halo around my head,
I glow like a firefly and blood flushes and brings life to my skin.
Your skin is dry – you cannot get to what you cannot touch in me
You cannot make me echo grief that I do not share with you,
This body is my temple, and I have birds singing off key within me.
I didn’t ask you to sing along,
Sing with me, or don’t sing at all,
Love me, or don’t love me at all.
But do not shout your bullet words at me as I walk away,
I am everything that has tried to silence me,
Bullets that I have caught between my teeth.
I have a dragon growing under my tongue,
A Phoenix in my heart.
Do not tell me I am not beautiful, your definition of beauty is sugar coated in lies,
I know this with all the cracks you’ve made in me, you have only brought more light into me.
Because I am worth more than this body you are quick to judge.

Image result for religious unity

Monday 4 December 2017


On the train,
at the shops,
standing in a queue;

in the shower,
on the sofa,
sitting on the loo.

In the car,
in the woods,
walking down the path;

at the library,
in a deckchair,
chilling in the bath.

On the bus,
in a field,
lazing on the lawn;

in the kitchen,
in the basement,
in my bed, at dawn.

In the sunshine,
in the rain,
at the swimming pool;

in a treehouse,
on the beach
and even (shhh!) at school.

Image result for writing poems

Monday 13 November 2017


Icky Sticky
Choccy Biccy
On my fingers
In my hair

Icky Sticky
Choccy Biccy
On the table
On the chair

Icky Sticky
Choccy Biccy
On my clothes
And in my shoes

Icky Sticky
Choccy Biccy
Some for me
And some for you!

Image result for choccy biccy

Monday 6 November 2017


Howdy. It has been a while since I've posted a blog. Life events have a habit of intervening, you see. Anyway, I'm pleased to be posting my first blog post for a couple of months. It's a new poem, based on a thought I remember having as a kid. I loved watching television, and I distinctly remember thinking that it doesn't matter how old I get, I'll never stop watching cartoons. (As a teenager I had the same thought regarding ska punk.) This poem is based on that. Enjoy!


One day I’ll grow up
and I’ll have to live life.
I might finish school
and I might find a wife.
It might happen later,
it might happen soon
but one thing’s for sure:
I’ll keep watching cartoons.

I might ditch my trainers
and wear a smart suit.
I might get a job
where I have to commute.
I might be a spaceman
and fly to the moon
but don’t be in doubt:
I’ll keep watching cartoons.

I might be a doctor,
curing disease.
I might be a lumberjack,
hacking down trees.
I might be a zookeeper
taming baboons
but never you fear:
I’ll keep watching cartoons.

My hair might turn grey
and my joints might go creaky.
My mind might go blank
and my bladder go leaky.
I might lose my teeth
and eat mush with a spoon
but as I expire
I’ll be watching cartoons.

With the WOWS!
and the POWS!
and the ZAPS!
and the ZOOMS!
no I’ll never stop watching cartoons!

Image result for sharky and george

Monday 18 September 2017

Bath Kids Literature Festival - Exciting News!

I am excited to announce that I will be appearing, in all my glory, at the Bath Kids Literature Festival on Tuesday 3rd Oct.

As well as appearing at the festival, I am also excited to report that Bath’s Young Poet Laureate, Polly Denny has devised a self-guided trail through the city, hitting all the haunts and places, significant to writers and poets who in some way changed the course of English literature. Those taking part will be able to access a map of the route online.

Polly wants to draw attention to the importance of Bath in our literature, the greatness it has produced and inspired over the centuries.

The trail will end at The Jane Austen centre, and those that can prove they completed it by showing a photo of themselves at each location will be entitled to 10% off anything in the centre including the tea rooms!

Dates: beginning on 28th September, National Poetry Day and continuing through the Children’s Literature Festival 29/09 – 08/10

Suitable for children accompanied by adults, for individuals, couples and groups

Do please spread the word!

Image result for bath kids lit fest

Sunday 20 August 2017


A couple of years ago I devised a new poetic form, called 'The Big Boss'. It is very simple, and so far I have written and published a number of poems using this specification. Here are the rules for writing a Big Boss poem:
  • 4 stanzas, 7 lines in each stanza
  • 4 syllables in the first six lines of each stanza, and 6 syllables in the final line
I am delighted to announce that renowned American poet Bob Schechter recently got in touch with me to say that, following my lead, he has written a Big Boss poem. I am therefore delighted to share his wonderful poem on my blog (and please do check out Bobs' website -


The sun may shine,
the breeze may blow,
the birds may sing,
the trees may grow,
the sky is blue
for all I know.
Who cares? I stay inside.

I have my toys,
I have my phone,
I'm here within
my bedroom zone.
Though others hate
to be alone,
who cares? I stay inside.

Outside the door
my puppy calls:
Why waste the day
inside of walls?
He wants to play
with sticks and balls.
Who cares? I stay inside.

But then I get
a text from you!
I'm in the park!
Can you come, too?
I'd planned to stay
inside, it's true.
Who cares? I race outside!

Monday 17 July 2017


This is a Poem
If this is a poem then does that mean that other things not like this are not poems?
And does it mean that other things like this are also poems?
To what are were referring when we talk of ‘this’?
What would Professor Mandelbaum say?
If this is not a poem does that mean it will never be one?
And if it is a poem does that mean it will always be one?
If I think it is a poem does that mean you should too?
And if we both think it is a poem, but Professor Bernstein disagrees,
then does that mean we are wrong?
Should we seek a fourth opinion?
What is the use of opinions anyway?
How should we back this up?
Look into my eyes look into my eyes look into my eyes
Now look back at the poem.
Is it still a poem?
If it wasn’t a poem before might it be one now?
If it is still a poem, then does that mean that other things like this are still poems?
And if it is a poem, is it a good poem?
If it’s not good does that mean it will  never be good?
Does it change depending on who is looking at it?
What if the person looking at it is Professor Rosenblatt?
Look into my eyes look into my eyes look into my eyes
Now look back at the poem.
Turn it upside down.
Is it still a poem?
If it is still a poem, is it the same poem as it was before?
If it is still a poem, but not the same one it was before,
then if I turn another poem upside down will it have the same effect?
And if I turn this poem upside down tomorrow,
will it be the same poem that was turned upside down today?
If I turn the world upside down will this still be a poem?
Look into me eyes look into my eyes look into my eyes
Now look back at the poem.
This is a poem. 

Friday 14 July 2017

Fantastic Poetry from Coleridge Primary School

I am honoured to share some fantastic poems sent to me by a governor at Coleridge Primary School in London. The great thing about these poems is that they were NOT produced during one of my workshops - I gave a performance at the school, and the children took it upon themselves to write the poems, in their own time! I am delighted to have inspired such creativity, and the young poets concerned should be very proud of themselves...

Tuesday 20 June 2017

What's In a Name? - Poems for Ramadan

I have been working with a group of students to create poems based around the 99 names of Allah. According to Islam, God has 99 names, often referred to as the 'beautiful names', and hearing them read aloud is very poetic. I asked students to consider the fact that many things have more than one name. For example, my name is 'Josh', but I am also 'a poet', 'a son' and 'a glasses-wearer'. Given this, students were invited to consider several different names or descriptions of themselves, and to use these to create a poem, with an emphasis on beauty and creativity. Here is a selection of their fantastic poems:

I Am by Fatima

I am a friend,
there when I’m needed but I know when to step back
I am a daughter,
shouting at my mum
asking “what do you want?”
I am a student,
determined to persevere
through the hardship that is school
I am a female,
understanding how hard it is
to be a woman
even in this day and age
I am a human,
I make mistakes
and try to correct them.
I have bad days
and I have good days.

What Am I? by Thanha

What am I?
I am a library of valuable,
unnecessary thoughts,
a garden of iridescent thoughts
ready to burst into colourful flowers
only to be beaten by the heavy rain
of reality.
I am a lucky dip.
The impatience produced bombards many with unbearable opinions.
I am fire.
I spread warmth
to the cold, gloomy atmosphere.
My intricate sparks
beautify the world.
Be warned – don’t get too close to me:
you will be left
with the most painful sting
that will remain
until you come again.
However, the real question is:
What am I?

I Am by Iqra

I am
A mind with a library of uselessness,
I am the shadows of the night,
Reserved yet exposed.
I am a raincloud within
A garden of flowers.
I am the rope holding you up.
I am a cheesecake-loving bookworm,
Adventuring into the unknown.
I am a firecracker ready to explode.
I am stuck for ideas.

The Dark by Shohana

I am the spark that starts the fire
I am the friend that starts the feud
I am the snake that poisons you
I am the fiend that reveals your secrets
When I sleep I think of you
And also myself too
Our future together can be as bright as the sun
Or as dark as my heart
My only advice to you right now
Would be to run.

Call me a snake
Call me a serpent
Call me a devil
Call me a demon
But what really matters right now
Is me
And I can do anything for myself.
You’ll see.

I Am by Joshua Seigal

I am
a reluctant poet,
struggling for words on the page.
I am an accidental teacher,
Learning and growing
from my mistakes.
I am a stubborn ox
pushing a plough
through the tangled field
of life.
I am a thinker of thoughts
twisting and turning
like a tornado.
I am a glasses-wearer
and a helping hand.
I am.
(written in 2 mins)

Image result for 99 names
(the 99 names of God, in Arabic)