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Old Possum's poems


Winning poems from the Old Possum’s Children’s Poetry Competition

This international Poetry Competition, now in its fourth year, is run by the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf, a poetry book club run by the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at and supported by Old Possum’s Practical Trust. Children aged between 7 and 11 were invited to submit poems on the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Heroes and Heroines’. At a gala celebration at the Unicorn Theatre in London today the young poets read their poems and received their prizes.

Carol Ann Duffy, Chair of the judging panel and UK Poet Laureate, said:

‘We judges had a wonderful and absorbing time choosing the winning and commended poems. We were impressed by the range of subject matter, the engagement with both history and the contemporary, the relish for image and metaphor. And we were particularly bowled-over by the poems from the International Learners.’ ‘We left our meeting convinced that the true beginnings of poetry are to be found in writing by children.’

The partnership with the British CouncilThis government-supported body is best-known for its activities overseas, but in fact provides a great deal of information which is of interest to writers.
Their UK Literature Festivals provides a full listing, but this is only as up to date as the information supplied by the individual festival organizers.
means that the Competition can have an ‘International Learners’ category for children based outside the UK who are learning English as a foreign or second language.

All the winning poems can be found on the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf website at

First Prize in the 7-8 year-old group

Indiana Woodlouse

It’s Indiana Woodlouse, he lives at our school,

At the bottom of the bush in the big big field.

He walks across rope above enormous holes,

He swings across puddles on spiders’ webs.

One miserable day when the clouds were black,

Indiana Woodlouse found some wool on his back.

He tied it to a stem and swung on it,

Then a drop of rain hit him on the head.

He fell from the wool and dropped to the ground,

The rain got heavier and he did drown.

We found him at break-time floating in a puddle,

And we all felt sad that he’d no longer be around.

By Ryuichi Coupe, aged 8, from St Godric’s RC Primary School, Durham



First Prize in the 9-11 year-old group

The Greenhouse Tank

They tell me I should,

Shoot, slash and kill.

But really I want to help them live,

Not kill them all to death.

They tell me I should,

Wear the heaviest armour of all.

But I really want to be dressed in glass,

And be full of beautiful plants.

They tell me I should,

Be full of missiles.

But I want to be full of herbs,

For soups and curries.

They tell me all this,

But I’m not going to listen.

I’m just going to buy some flowers

And start my own little garden.

By Michael Figini, aged 10, from Hendon Prep School, London