Children Compile Their Own Poetry Anthologies

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‘Anthologise’ was the title of a UK competition for school students aged 11-18 – another brilliant educational initiative of the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The competition was administered by the Poetry Book Society and was launched by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in September 2011.

See more at:

It invited students to compile their own anthologies of poetry. The competition was judged by a panel which included laureate Carol Ann Duffy; National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke; Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead; poet John Agard; poet Grace Nichols; and Cambridge Professor of Children’s Poetry, Morag Styles. The winning anthology was published by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, in 2013.

The original website is no longer available but there is still some very interesting and useful information available on the Picador website Click on ‘blog’ and type ‘anthologise’ in the search bar.


Here you will find amongst other things:

A Message from Carol Ann Duffy

Advice from Poets and Anthologists

Points for Students to Consider

Information on the winning anthology

— all worth saving while they are there!

The winning collection, published by Picador in 2013, was Monkton Combe School’s anthology, The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead   (Contents below)

A few minutes of googling various press releases etc about this competition will supply some heartening evidence of poetry’s continuing power to excite and inspire children. You will also find discussions of how the project supported the school curriculum and prompted students to pursue different issues through poetry of all ages and places.

I also came across another poet’s intention to expand this project. (Oxford World Book Capital Bid 2014)

Oxford’s City Poet, Kate Clanchy, will expand a national initiative started by the UK’s Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, called Anthologise. This project invites children to read as much poetry as possible in order to put together their own anthologies, the best of which receive prizes.

For more information please visit:

Wouldn’t it be great if an Australian Publisher took up the idea?


Contents of Anthologise 2012 winning anthology:

Appreciation of Nature

On the Grasshopper and Cricket,   John Keats

Through That Door,     John Cotton

My Idle Dreams Roam Far,    Li Yu (Chinese)

The Praise of Spring,  Gonzalo de Berceo

Earth Songs,      John Clarke

The Earth and The People,    Traditional (Inuit)

Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now,    A.E. Housman

Sonnet,      John Clare

The Negro Speaks of Rivers,    Langston Hughes

Earth Cries,      Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze

Moss-Gathering,     Theodore Roethke


Cycle of Nature

An Alphabet for the Planet,    Riad Nourallah

Death of a Naturalist,    Seamus Heaney

Place,       W.S. Merwin

The River in March,     Ted Hughes

A Beetle Called Derek,    Benjamin Zephaniah

Nature,      Loriah Leah


Human Ecology

Cultivators,      Susan Taylor

The Shepherd,     William Blake

The Case,      Kathleen Jamie

The Magnificent Bull,     Dinka Tribe

Close to Nature,     Nnamdi Ben Nneji

Inside my Zulu Hut,     Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

I Tell the Bees,      Jo Shapcott

Gathering the Honey,    Virgil



Nothing Gold Can Stay,    Robert Frost

Report to Wordsworth,    Boey Kim Cheng

Lily of the Valley,     Alice Oswald

Trailing Arbutus,     Gloria Sarasin

Endangered Species,    David Constantine

The Flower-Fed Buffaloes,    Vachel Lindsay

Pheasant,      Sylvia Plath

Almanac,      Primo Levi

Estuary,      Ian Hamilton Finlay

Harvest Hymn,     John Betjeman

The Recital of Lost Cities,    Lavinia Greenlaw

The Woman in the Moon,    Carol Ann Duffy



The Trees,      Philip Larkin

The Eclipse,      Richard Eberhart

The Cloud,      Percy Bysshe Shelley

Si Dieu N’existait Pas,     John Burnside

Heavenly Grass,     Tennessee Williams

I’m Alive, I Believe in Everything,   Lesley Choyce

Tomorrow’s Child,      Glenn Thomas

A Light Exists in Spring,    Emily Dickinson


This article was kindly provided by Australian children’s poet,  Kate O’Neil


Poetry in the Classroom


Today’s blog is aimed at teachers of primary and secondary students; it offers ways in which you might like to use this blog site or otherwise employ poetry in your classroom.

  • Research and find poems from poets listed in the A to Z of Australian children’s poetry and then give a class presentation
  • Check out at least one of the poetry website links on the blog site and tell the class what they found
  • Enter poems they have written into children’s competitions listed on the site
  • Write an email – or a letter – to one of the poets listed on the blog site
  • Write a poem and submit it to the site as the Poem of the Day
  • Invite a poet – or a community leader – to visit your school to read and/or recite poems at your school assembly.
  • Ask every child in your class to find a poem they love and create a class poetry anthology
  • Organise a poetry read based on poems collected for the anthology
  • Write a class acrostic poem using the teacher’s surname
  • Talk about free verse and read a verse novel to your class
  • Make a collection of poems displayed on the site (from the A to Z of poets) and from the Poem of the Day
  • Display a Poem of the Day written by a student on the class noticeboard
  • Find and share silly, short poems written by Anonymous
  • For a class assembly item, have the class present poetry connected by a theme (for example: family, food, games)
  • For a fun activity in class, have students talk to one another in rhyming couplets for a limited period
  • Raid home, public and school libraries for poetry collections and anthologies; when it’s time for DEAR, have students read from one of the books
  • After DEAR, each child share a poem they really liked
  • Memorise and recite poems found on the Australian children’s poetry blog site
  • Have class work together to write an article about poetry in their class and submit it to the blog site
  • Have students find children’s poetry websites and blogs not listed on the blog site and submit them as links



Feel free to send in information about how you employ poetry in your classroom if you’re a teacher. Or if you are a student, send in your thoughts, too! Send to



Poem of the Day


Hot Summer Day


The seashells I’ve collected stink,

not one of them is pretty.

My cordial’s too warm to drink,

my sandwiches are gritty.


I’d build a fortress on the shore

but no one here will help.

I won’t go swimming any more

with jelly fish and kelp.


My face is hot, it’s getting pink.

I’ll turn into a peach.

I hate to grizzle, but I think

it’s time to leave the beach!


© Jenny Erlanger

Although I have many positive memories of the many Christmases I spent as a child on the Mornington Peninsula, eating sandwiches on the beach in the middle of summer, with no shade in sight, was not one of them. This poem comes from my volume of children’s poetry, Giggles and Niggles (Haddington Press, 2007)

Poem of the Day


The Back of Beyond


“We’re going on a holiday.

We’re packing bags and GOING AWAY!

‘Away from it all’ in a camper-van.”

That’s how Dad announced his plan.


“Away from it all! Far out!” I said.

But Dad just grinned and raised his head

and muttered “Yes! exactly so.

The Back of Beyond is where we’ll go.”


“How long does it take to get to Beyond?”

I asked, but when he didn’t respond

I asked if there’d be other stops

along the way. Would there be shops


to buy some food? And would there be

interesting things to do and see?

“Away from it all!” How could Dad

think that was fun? Had he gone mad?


‘Beyond’ was not on any map.

Was this plan some kind of trap?

I told him: “Dad, I want to know

About this trip, or I won’t go.”


He promised lots to see and do:

A locust plague in Bugaboo

Kangaroo pies in Pinnaroo

Dingoes howling in Orrorooooooooooo….


DAD! What are you trying to do?

Names like that just can’t be true—

You’ve made them up, haven’t you.

I’m staying here in Woolloomooloo!


© Kate O’Neil


The above poem was placed second in the 2011 Toolangi CJ Dennis competition

Poem of the Day




With the eye in the back of his head

he sees them coming —


eight-year-old breakers,

baby-hard, baby-soft.


Their space-machine, so elegant

could swallow him,


drown him once and for all

in a dish of air.


No use trying to rewrite the law:

they are the masters —


skills bred in the bone.

He freezes —


they expect it,

though a voice inside him squeaks


I … Words cut his tongue,

weigh in his mind like a bruise.

© Katherine Gallagher

(Published in Them and Us (The Bodley Head, 1993) and Ramshackle Rainbow (Macmillan Children’s books, 2001)

Katherine Gallagher is a widely-published Australian poet resident in London. She writes for children and adults and has poems in many children’s anthologies. About Bullies, she says, ‘I wrote this poem in response to bullying that I witnessed in a local primary school. Bullying is tragic and a big social problem; children become increasingly insecure and afraid. Sadly, they often don’t tell anyone, even parents and teachers, and this misery can affect them for the rest of their lives’. 

Poem of the Day




by Edel Wignell


One day the numerals were playing in the park;

They all seemed friendly, the game was a lark.

But six was scared, kept glancing around –

Ready to dash away with a bound.

The leader called them to stand in a row,

But six hung back, refusing to go.

‘I’m scared of seven at the top of the line.’

So why was six scared? Because seven ate nine.

© The Australian Society of Authors


Poem of the Day


Blue Cheese and Honey


There lived a horse who liked blue cheese

Served on a plate upon his knees

And every day the meal he ate

was cheese he ‘d placed upon his plate.


While out one day he found some honey

and poured it all – so sweet and runny-

upon the cheese upon the plate

set on his knees and so he ate

But the honey he had taken

Could have been a BIG mistake!


Bees flying in a frenzied state

Made a beeline for his plate

The horse ran off and left the honey –

upon the cheese – all sweet and runny


Thousands landed on his cheese

consuming honey as they pleased

Till gorging on and sated soon

they droned off in the afternoon


The horse returned and placed the plate

upon his knees and he was pleased

to realise-at least the bees

had left his Blue Cheese – which he ate.!


So if you choose to eat blue cheese

served on a plate upon your knees

avoid the thought of honey dressing.

Blue cheese – alone -is quite impressing!


© 2013 Jill Carter-Hansen,

MOBILE  0412 181101