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Thursday 28 December 2023

a poem for young children


Bouncing bunnies hip-hip-hopping

in the summer sun;

kittens playing with their mama,

having lots of fun;

little lemurs as they nibble

at a piece of fruit – 

they’re absolutely, positively,

consummately CUTE!

Puppies sleeping very softly,

snuggled in your lap;

hummingbirds collecting pollen – 

listen to them flap!

And over there, among the reeds,

a teeny tiny newt – 

it’s absolutely, positively,

consummately CUTE!

Hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs

who scurry all about;

fluffy lambs among the haystacks

as the flowers sprout;

your lovely little newborn brother – 

there’s no substitute:

he’s absolutely, positively,

consummately CUTE!

Joshua Seigal

Saturday 23 December 2023

The Annual Christmas Family Row

Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now – 

it’s the Annual Christmas Family Row!

Mum burnt the turkey. She’s snarling at Dad.

The dog stole a present. Aunt Betty’s gone mad. 

Granny is snoozing and Grandad is pissed.

Derek the Racist gets slapped on the wrist.

Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now – 

it’s the Annual Christmas Family Row!

Your sister’s new boyfriend’s a stuttering wreck.

The children asked Santa for something hi-tech

but they each got the wrong kind of Pokemon game.

Dad says that their mother’s the person to blame.

Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now – 

it’s the Annual Christmas Family Row!

Derek is downing a whiskey or four.

Granny is drooling and starting to snore. 

Aunt Betty complains that the sprouts are too tough.

She asks for more stuffing; there isn’t enough.

Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now – 

it’s the Annual Christmas Family Row!

Derek and Betty, they bicker and moan. 

Granny and Grandad, they grizzle and groan.

The children are fighting. Dad’s gone to the loo.

He’ll sit there alone for an hour or two. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now – 

it’s the Annual Christmas Family Row!

In a world where we can’t predict what will come next

and the flux of events leaves us somewhat perplexed,

it’s nice to have something forever unchanged – 

your family’s barmy; your kin are deranged.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, settle down now

for the Annual Christmas Family Row!

- Joshua Seigal

Friday 22 December 2023

Dispositional Privilege

Some people suffer from conditions such as Depression, Anxiety and OCD. As I mentioned in a previous post, when it comes to mental health I am not so hot on labels. Be this as it may, I think it safe to say that people to whom such labels might be applied are prone to suffer. They often find it hard to navigate the ups and downs of life. Other people do not have these conditions, and they seem to find life easier. We might say these people have a 'sunny disposition'. 

I don't know the extent to which a sunny disposition is genetic, or the result of a nurturing environment. Probably both. It is indubitaby the case that people with a sunny disposition can suffer, as the result of bad things happening to them. They might be rich or poor. They might suffer calamities in their life. They might have incredibly bad luck. But nonetheless, there are people, I believe, who have a sunny disposition. These people find it easier to cope with the ups and downs of life (which happen to all humans) than do people to whom the aforementioned 'labels' might apply. 

I think we need a new piece of vocabulary to acknowledge the fact that people who have a sunny disposition are in possession of a sort of privilege that is not afforded to people who have Depression, Anxiety, OCD and the like. I propose the term 'Dispositional Privilege'. People who have Dispositional Privilege suffer in ways that all humans suffer, but their disposition equips them to cope with their suffering in more functional ways than others. 

An anology here might the the term 'White Privilege'. People who are White are privileged in ways that people who are Black are not. This does not mean that White people do not suffer. It also does not mean that an individual Black person might be privileged in ways that in individual White person is not, by dint of things such as education, income, etc. It just means that, all other things being equal, White people, in our society, are at an advantage compared with Black people. I think a similar thing is true of people who have Dispositional Privilege. All other things being equal, they are lucky enough to be able to go through life relatively unencumbered, compared with people who do not have Dispositional Privilege. 

Life is not easy. For anyone. But just as society has taken some steps to address White Privilege (not enough steps, sure), we might do something similar with Dispositional Privilege. I'm not sure exactly how. I'm just throwing ideas around. I'd be interested to hear thoughts about this. 

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Fly on the Wall

People sometimes wish

they were a fly upon the wall. 

They think that this would help

to grow their knowledge overall.

I do not think, however,

it would be much use at all – 

the thing about a fly is that

its brain is rather small.

Joshua Seigal

Monday 18 December 2023

Two very groanworthy poems

I've just written a pair of punilicious poems guaranteed to garner some groans! Here you go:

Counting on Me 

I counted a sequence

from One onto Two,

then Three, Four and Five

came up next in the queue. 

Six, Seven and Eight

followed up on the list

then I hit upon Nine,

but the next one I missed.

The digits accrued

reached their limit somehow;

my tallying skills

are unTenable now.

Boo Hoo Zoo 

I went to the zoo

and I saw a baboon, 

a lion, a tiger,

a skunk and raccoon. 

I saw a giraffe

and a penguin on ice

but my trips to this place

are no longer so nice:

there wasn’t a grizzly

or polar in sight,

and that is why mine’s

an unbearable plight

(c) Joshua Seigal

Saturday 16 December 2023

I receive some anonymous fanmail!

I recently received a mysterious package from my publisher, Bloomsbury. Some wonderful students had taken the time to write some lovely poems, and they wanted to share them with me. Unfortunately, there was no mention of which school they came from, nor any other details. However, I'm really happy to share a few of their poems on this here blog. What a lovely surprise!

Thursday 14 December 2023

Leave the Baby to Cry

The thing is, if you leave the baby to cry 

the baby will never stop crying. Sure,

you will eventually hear a silence,

and at some point the baby will fall asleep,

but the crying never really stops.

The baby grows up, goes to school and gets

a job, all the while crying in the deep recesses

of its brain. The baby will learn to stifle the tears

and muffle the pain, yes, but the crying

will never truly go away. Hey – why not

pick up the baby now, the one you’ve left to cry

for so long it hurts the both of you? Tell the baby

it’s OK, it’s OK, those parenting experts

made a mistake: you don’t need to cry forever.

You don’t need to cry forever.

Joshua Seigal

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Take Care

Take care of the flowers.

Although you can’t see their colours right now,

they’ll be waiting for you

when you return. 

And mend the roof. 

Right now you’re drenched

from lashings of rain,

but the time will soon come

when you finally step 

into the warmth. 

A shelter will be waiting for you, 

and the beautiful colours outside.

Take care now, even though

it all feels empty, hopeless. 

Good things await you,

and you will see that life is good. 

Joshua Seigal

Sunday 3 December 2023

Lovely letter and poems from Valley Primary School, Solihull

I recently ran an online poetry workshop attended by many schools at once. The Literacy Lead from Valley Primary in Solihull got in touch with a thank you letter (I love it when this happens) as well as some of the fantastic poems produced by her pupils. I am delighted to be able to share both the letter and the poems. Here you go:

My class, and other teachers tell me theirs too,  had a fantastic time listening to your poems and meeting your lovely cat.  I have been inundated with poems written during the workshop and promised I would send a couple across.  
Strawberry Dreams (y6 pupil)
Oh Strawberry, I love you so,
Your fruity, fiery self dances in my soul
You feel light and fresh on my tongue 
The light airy sensation you give flies through my lungs
Oh Strawberry, I love you so . 
Pear Love Letter (y6 pupil)
Oh pear
I am going to love you til the very end
you taste like a cloud of heaven 
I'm going to love you til the end 
you are as green as grass on a sunny day 
as smooth as the ocean when it is calm 
so please reply
I will love you til the end  
I love your watermelon ways  (y5 pupil)
Oh watermelon
aren't you lovely?
you are red and green
just like Christmas
you taste like heaven 
oh watermelon
aren't you lovely?
you're crunchy 
and munchy
you keep your seeds hidden within 
your soft, red, juicy insides
Oh watermelon
I love you so 
In addition to this, children have been bringing me poems all week, where they have been inspired to just write.  I think you talking about the freedom of no rules and writing about what they love has given them the confidence to have a go, and it has been a joy to sit back and watch it happen. 
My School  (Y3 pupil)
My school is cool and nice
it is the opposite of boring
it's just the best school
it is so fun
super coooool
you should go to it
my school is Valley 

Our sleepover 
friends, friends all gather round 
we better go get something
don't make a sound
we're going to have a midnight feast 
but lets get something healthy
at least 
this is going to be 
the best night ever 
our parents are never
going to find out 
do you see those chicken nuggets and chips?
they're making me want to lick my lips
now quick, lets creep back to my room 
before it gets dark and 
we can't see through the gloom 
So, once again, thank you for all that you do to inspire the reading and writing of poetry.  There are many grateful teachers in my school who are now buzzing with ideas off the back of what you have started.
Have a wonderful weekend,
[name deleted] 

Monday 27 November 2023

Poems from Ash Grange Primary School, Aldershot

A huge thank you to Emma, an HLTA at Ash Grange Primary School in Aldershot, Surrey, for getting in touch with some poems written by students. I love it when this happens! The students wrote poems based on my world-famous piece 'Just A Book', which you can find on my website. The poems were adapted to the theme of 'war', and I am privileged to be able to share some examples right here on my blog. Well done Ash Grange!

Sunday 26 November 2023

The Bogeyman

When I was little, my parents warned me

about The Bogeyman. If I wasn’t good, they said,

The Bogeyman would come and get me.

They never said what The Bogeyman

would do. They never even told me who

The Bogeyman was, or what he looked like.

I’d go to bed imagining a figure in a long coat,

with limbs that clanked like metal and a barrowful

of bones. Perhaps these were the bones of children

who weren’t good, who wouldn’t brush their teeth

or do their homework. The Bogeyman grinned

as he ghosted through my dreams.

As I got older, I learnt The Bogeyman wasn’t real –

he was just a creature cooked up by grown ups

to scare children. I also discovered  that the world

was scary enough; there was really no need

for The Bogeyman. Look! There he is now,

his barrow empy, his limbs rusting in the rain.

Joshua Seigal

Tuesday 21 November 2023


What have we done

to deserve dogs?

We, who poison the world with greed;

who chisel our neighbours

for a few extra dollars;

who maim, cheat and burn – 

what right have we to a dog’s gifts?

All that warmth, affection

and even forgiveness –

we don’t deserve any of it

and yet this, to them, 

simply doesn’t come into it.

A dog’s love is not transactional. 

We’ve done nothing to deserve dogs.

And they (poor things)

have done nothing to deserve us. 

Joshua Seigal