Wonderland : Alice in Poetry
Michaela’s Wonderland: Alice in Poetry is on the 2017 shortlist for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (CLiPPA).
2017 is the 15th anniversary of the award, which remains the only annual award in the UK for published poetry for children.
I come from long ago, from a grey place of cramped, dingy-looking, brick- hard houses. Narrow streets, narrow lives, very little kindness.
I went to the local primary school where on Fridays we had class library time. The books were kept in a folding metal contraption. It would be wheeled to the front of the classroom, unlocked, unfolded and the books would be revealed.
Opened it was and into my hands came Alice in Wonderland and into the strange world of Alice I tumbled, never to entirely return. Alice’s little golden key let me into a world of adventure and colour and strength and impossible possibilities. I loved her stalwart and stoical confidence as she quietly stood up for herself and continued in her journey. I loved the plays on words, the fun, the nonsense. But most of all I loved the verse in the story. I reread those verses. I still know most of them by heart. By heart.
And now it’s time to reply to Lewis Carroll and to Alice – to celebrate those wonderful verses, outlandish characters and events and those slightly disturbing illustrations. It’s time to give some of our best contemporary poets and storytellers a chance to respond to take Lewis Carroll’s words and ideas and to play with them. They have taken Carroll’s poems from Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass and from the lesser-known work Sylvie and Bruno and spring boarded from them into poems of their own.
This is of course what Lewis Carroll did. He took well known literature of his time and he put his own original spin on it.
Victorian literature for children was meant to be ‘improving ‘. It was not intended to be ‘reading for pleasure’. It was forever teaching the child readers ‘important lessons’ – how to be obedient, polite, hard- working,sensible. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, changed his name to Lewis Carroll, took the poems and stories that children of his time had been made to learn and recite and he turned it all topsy turvy . So here are Lewis Carroll’s playful responses to the poems that Victorian children read, and here are contemporary poets’ responses to Lewis Carroll’s poems. You might like to continue the chain by writing your own poem. Or maybe you just want to read them – for pleasure, for delight, for fun.
This is a varied collection like a Christmas selection box – tumble in and Read Me.
BBC Radio Leicester – National Poetry Day