An Advent Calendar Poe-Tree

I had been meaning to create an advent calendar ‘poe-tree’ for my children for years, ever since seeing one on a children’s book blog I follow. There’s never going to be an easy time to do this, so I just decided to go for it this year, pulling out the stops, putting in some late nights going through poetry books and getting it all together.

It felt really important to me (of course my children would definitely not have minded!) that the poems I chose were not all written by dead, white men, because the easiest poetry to access out there is just that! I wanted my kids to pull out a variety of poems each day from both men and women and from different ethnic groups, as well as some different styles ranging from traditional to downright radical, even dispensing with grammar and spelling. I wanted poems to (hopefully) make them both giggle and reflect. I also wanted it to be a journey for them as we travelled closer to Christmas, with more poems about Christmas itself and cold, dark, wintry days later in the month. After five years of living in Kenya, I want my kids to be proud of their African background, so I also made sure I slipped in a poem entitled ‘An African Christmas’.

I know advent calendar’s normally finish on the 24th December but it was SO hard to choose just 24 poems from the abundance of incredible work out there, so I threw in an extra one for good measure for the 25th (though with the excitement of stocking opening on Christmas Day, who knows if they will remember it!).

I’d like to share that final poem with you, Let there be Peace, written by the fabulous British-Ethiopian poet Lemn Sissay:

Let there be peace
So frowns fly away like albatross
And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards,
So war correspondents become travel show presenters
And magpies bring back lost property,
Children, engagement rings, broken things.

Let there be peace
So storms can go out to sea to be
Angry and return to me calm,
So the broken can rise up and dance in the hospitals.
Let the aged Ethiopian man in the grey block of flats
Peer through his window and see Addis before him,
So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames
For his dreams.

Let there be peace
Let tears evaporate to form clouds, cleanse themselves
And fall into reservoirs of drinking water.
Let harsh memories burst into fireworks that melt
In the dark pupils of a child’s eyes
And disappear like shoals of silver darting fish,
And let the waves reach the shore with a
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Lemn Sissay

Thank you for reading this blog post! If you enjoyed it, why not compliment it with reading about the power of public space poetry ,a love letter to the public librarywhy engaging in poetry is a way into writing for kids.


Encouraging Reluctant Readers

I recently had an article published on 'How to Encourage Reluctant Readers' on the Advice for Parents section of Simply Learning Tuition (a London based tutor-company). Click here to have a read of it!

Living, Coping & Writing with Chronic Insomnia

When I wrote my second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, I would sit at a desk in my upstairs bedroom with sunbirds flitting to and fro from the foliage outside (yes, really, hence the title's inspiration), type away at my story, and cry. And…

A love letter to the public library

Public libraries have been a lifeline for me for many, many years. This poem had been brewing in my head for some time, and I finally made the space and time to sit down and write it. By a lovely sleight of serendipity, it also happens to be…

Rising above Dyslexia: One 13 year old girl's story

Maya Melesi is a thirteen year old girl living in Nairobi, Kenya. At one stage she was part of my after school creative writing club, Magic Pencil, and I was struck by her boundless enthusiasm, creativity and facility with words. Maya…

My 5 favourite books from the first half of 2018

'Someone reading a book is a sign of order in the world.' Mary Ruefle Over the past six months as I have been travelling round India, I have been reading and reading and reading. Not that this is any different from normal, but what has been…

Introducing Trusha Ganesh: A young Indian Writer

I am always so happy to meet another writer. Whether it's a seven year old child who is tentatively but excitedly experimenting with the power of storytelling, an older person wanting to get their stories down for posterity or somebody who plays…