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Birmingham Young Poet Laureate Shortlisted Candidates 2008

Young Poet Laureate Birmingham
There were more than 40 applicants for the 2008-9 Young Poet Laureate post. Below is a wonderful selection of poems from the young people who were shortlisted.

Annia, aged 12

DAD, just stop that noise!

My dad's a hungry, frantic hog, snuffling for truffles.
A train chuffing and rattling along a rusty track; finally reaching a choking crescendo!
Your heart nearly stops with the shock of the sound; vibrating around the room like thunder.
Brief blissful silence, it doesn't last long, then we're off again!
Sometimes, just sometimes, the silence goes on just too long; and you listen to be sure the breathing goes on!
But it does!
Welcome to the zoo,
He honks like a goose,
He squawks like a parrot,
He blanks out he telly.
Will he stop all the traffic?
Dad! My friends are coming this weekend!
You'll scare them to death!
Monsters in the attic,
Ghosts in the cellar!
Don't worry it's my dad,
He's the hog on the roof
The tapir under the table!
He's the train in the basement!
He snores, snores, snores!

Nabeela, aged 17

Pieces of a puzzle

Think of a puzzle with pieces which are different in colours, shapes and size
Now think of our world...
Isn't it the same with different colours, weight and height?
Slot them together and puzzle will become clear
One whole nation who are all different in the way they first appear.

Skin and nationality is something of debate
The way you're known, the way you're judged the way you're seen in this world of hate
The colour of your skin lets you be known
For the race and identity which you behold.
The almond colour upon my hands, feet and face
Is a thing of beauty nothing to hate
Because I have a heritage of which I am proud
Being a British Asian it is pretty sound.
You too are part of this puzzle as you're an individual piece
With your own race, colour, heritage and identity.
You should be proud of the colour which sits on your skin
A thing of beauty and not of sin.

Being a British Asian I can relate
To the magical essence of the South Asian taste.
The different foods to meet your needs
It shows who you are, your culture, your taste and individual piece.
Along with the tongue which speaks different words
Stressed syllables, strong accents creating a language which you've never heard.
Learning the new language is like learning a poem
A challenge which is fun, a challenge which educates, a challenge which makes you proud...
...of being in a world full of variety with different cultures, identities and sounds.
Your heritage is known as you speak your mother tongue
Almost like anew song has been sung.

But for the world to be in harmony injustice has to be overcome
Equality has to spread for the world to be one love.
It doesn't really matter if you're African, Caucasian, Oriental or Asian
As long as you know 'United we stand, Divided we fall'
This is a message which applies to all
Be proud of your heritage and of who you are
Because you are a piece...
...of this puzzle which will take years and years and years to complete.


Hannah, aged 15

The Diary of a Superior

My toils reap few rewards and my time of rest is fleeting,
I take little time to ponder as I tear from meeting to meeting.
Deadlines and fragmentary tasks pray upon my mind,
And even upon weekends, there sets in the daily grind.

My income tax is through the roof,
And my earnings remain inadequate,
For I possess a lifestyle to uphold,
Consisting of riches, style and strict etiquette.

Whatever happened to the good days?
When I was a mere, irrelevant hand.
If only I could return to those ways,
Undertaking tasks which proved arduous and bland.

Aidan, aged 16

Ya work all day ya work all night,
To feed the machine that builds the machine that pays the machine to teach kids to write,
They feed the system that pays the machine,
Then pay back the machine to keep funding the dream,
You get up at six and sit in your car,
Put on that suit and smoke the morning's cigar,
The hot light of morning passes you by,
And Radio drive time feeds you the lie,
The rows of homeless, shoppers and suits,
All bustle around you but who gives a hoot!

You walk through the city with little in head,
But last evening's telly and the warmth of your bed,
Thinking of lunch break and dreaming a dream,
You walk past the town hall and huge TV screen,
You walk to the offices of a large building company,
Who feed a machine from which you earn money,
You stroll through the lobby and climb up the stairs,
With one hand in pocket, running fingers through hair,
You go to your desk and pull out your seat,
Fiddle some files and shuffle your feet,
And whilst you fiddling and shuffling, shuffling and fiddling,
You can't help but feel that something is missing,

The cogs of the machine are still turning away,
Collecting, transferring and handing out pay,
The machine that got you up this morning will soon send you to bed,
With dreams of your work day and TV in head,
Whilst this day is over and all you've done dead,
Tomorrow will be the same as I've already said,
The machine it is ever running, just like a river,
The system's a taker the master's a giver,
Cus you're still working all day, working all night,
To feed the machine, that built the machine, that paid the machine that taught you to write.

Shereen, aged 12

A final blink of the golden eye on its face of sweet pink,
Before the greatest shadow rises,
And the pale lost child comes once again to linger, staring senselessly into nothingness,
So lonely, in the distance of a diamond studded milieu,
A stranger, wandering the skies,
Cautiously too, for the life it looks upon is so novel.
Maybe it is not loneliness though...
Simply safety, a subtle solace hidden from the burning claws of day with its screams of frantic noise and colour,
And so, a shy creature, never settling,
Always searching for home, in the peaceful dimness,
Forever trailing after the Earth like a toddler following its parent.
Young and nae, yet striking and mature,
Frozen and alone, yet beaming a watchful smile...

And then, chased, back to darkness,
Away from the glowering god of fire,
Each night in its cave of twinkling jewels,
And each day.....mystery.....

Daniel, aged 13

Night Shift

Long night sessions,
Manager confessions.
Shelf stacking,
Cardboard packing.

Plastic wrapping,
Cupboard cramming.
Coffee breaks,
Sugared shortcakes.

Trolley sweeps,
Alarm bleeps.
Pick 'n' Mix,
Advert fix.

Cash tills,
Milk Spills.
Large lists,
Price twists.

Date changing,
More rearranging.
Boss jokes,
Eggs broke.

Shift swapper,
Mystery shopper.
This job's not cool,
Concentrate at school.

Priya, aged 13


The many forms of light,
Simplicity as an art form,
Rays of burning blaze,
Higher than the norm.

Light the terms of darkness,
Feel the energy it contains,
For within it holds the answer,
The life inside your veins.

The burning flame of majestic bliss,
Absorbs the darkness from the night,
As it pierces through our atmosphere,
Tempting what it shall ignite.

The burning ball of smothering gas,
An illusion to the naive eye,
Searing through our natural defence,
Yet attractive like a lantern to a fly.

For the lights we witness are beyond us,
As their intentions are unknown,
Feel the warmth and comfort of their being,
And you shall never be alone.

Joy, aged 12

Today my friend and I had a fight.
It showed our friendship was not right.
I was very angry but couldn't find,
The words to say what was on my mind.
She however shouted and swore,
And showed what she really took me for.
Piercing words was all she had to say,
She wasn't like the person I met on the first day.
She showed her true colours and I am glad of this,
Now I don't have to be friends with her now that I know what she is.
Tomorrow she'll ask for me to forgive her.
So the words she said today, I'll try not to remember.
Although then the argument will one day repeat,
And I'll forgive her again, and accept the defeat.
Because she has control and it's not really a friendship.
But I'll never say anything because I don't have the guts for it.
So really I'm being bullied by my best friend.
Never I see this able to end.

Keeley, aged 13


Germination starts to begin,
For tomorrow is the start of Spring.
Tentatively I start to come out,
As my leaves start to sprout.
Higher I go as my stem grows taller,
And the world beneath me gets smaller and smaller.
My emerging petals suddenly spring out,
As the children below start to shout...
"Look at that sunflower sway in the breeze,
And look at it bend and twist with ease."
A laden of happiness shone over me,
As I danced and twirled with pride and glee.
The ground is moist, the sun is bright,
There's not a single snail in sight.
The scent is sweet; I'm full of colour,
But the world is just about to get duller.
For my time is up, it's nearly the end,
Because winter is just around the bend.

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