An ABC of Celia Warren

A is for Author and Animals. Author as, although I like writing poetry best, I also write stories, and Animals because I often put animals in my stories and poems, e.g.

B for Bears

Roly poly polar bears,
Rolling in the snow,
Sliding over icebergs,
In the sea they go:

Splish, splash polar bears,
Splish, splash, splosh!

Growly brown mountain bears,
Climbing on all fours,
Hugging each other
With their big brown paws:

Stump, stomp brown bears,
Stump, stomp, stamp!

B is also for Brigg in Lincolnshire, where I was born and went to school, and Barker, for my surname before I married.

C is for Causley and Cope – two of my favourite poets.

D is for Devon where I live with my Devonian husband. Recently researching my family tree, I discovered that many of my ancestors came from Devon, too. Perhaps something in my blood drew me back to the county after living for 30 years in Staffordshire.

E is for Education which I studied when I left school. I now write lots of books for schools. You might find some of my story books among your class readers – some of them are BIG books!

F is for Fun and Fantasy. I enjoy playing with the sounds and meanings of words. Sometimes I make up words and places, as in my poem –

Dear Alien

I newly learn your Earth-speak –
forgive if I get it wrong.
When I don’t know the Earth-word
I shall have to write in Sprong.

Sorry to start “Dear Alien”,
but now our planets are twinned,
I hope as we get to know each other
we shall want to write “Dear fribble”.

I am thirty-two, in Sprong-years;
in Earth-years, I’d be eight.
My mum’s one-hundred-and-twenty today
so we’re going to celebrate.

She’s invited us all to a poggle,
and baked a birthday-cake,
with a hundred and twenty clabbits on top.
(Is my Earth-speak without mistake?)

Me, please, to tell what I wrong get,
my lovely new pen-fribble.
I want to learn all about the Earth.
Write and tell me all your gribble.

I shall now tell you what I look like:
My hair is short and red
on my arms and legs, and greenish-grump
and curly on my head.

My ecklings are blue and yellow,
with the middle one black and white.
I’m told that Earthlings have only two –
can you really see all right?

I have a brother and sister,
and a lovely pet splink called “Bloggs”.
Is it true you have pets with four legs and a tail?
What do you call them – droggs?

Please write back soon, dear Earthling,
don’t keep me waiting long –
and remember to tell me your Earth-words
that, today, I’ve written in Sprong.

© Celia Warren

G is for Good. When I was a child, I had an autograph book. I asked friends and relatives to write their names, messages and drawings in it. Sadly, I lost it during one of our many house-moves, but I still remember one rhyme that somebody wrote. It went like this:

Good, better, best,
never let it rest,
till your Good is Better
and your Better, BEST!

This is as true of developing writing talent as it is of learning a sport or a skill. The more you practise, the better you grow. I am never afraid to tweaking phrases, even weeks or years after first writing a poem, if it improves it.

H is for Hard Work. People often ask, is it hard to write a poem? The answer is, it can be! Very few poems come right straight away, most need drafting and rewriting. It can take a long time and a lot of effort – BUT I find it FUN working on a poem until I’m really pleased with it. It’s a bit like painting a picture and doing a jigsaw at the same time – solving a puzzle and gradually seeing the picture emerge. I find it helpful to keep reading poems aloud to hear how they’re coming along.

I is for Imagination and Ideas which come in all shapes and sizes – and are full of surprises! Sometimes a few words pop into my head; sometimes I sit down to write on a subject or theme. Often, I see or hear something that sparks off an idea. Then my imagination does the rest.

J is for January when I was born (brrrr!) or, much pleasanter, June, when my children were born. I have a son, Richard, and a daughter, Charlotte.

K is for Kiddiwinks everywhere without whom there would be no-one to read my children’s books!

L and M are for my Labrador, Matty (Matilda) the beloved family pet whose love and loyalty I and my family enjoyed as our children were growing up. I shall never forget her.

N is for National Poetry Day and for Now. National Poetry Day falls each October, but you can make YOUR next Poetry Day NOW! Go on – read a poem; write a poem … NOW!

Oh – you’re back! …O is for Organised. I have to be fairly organised when I write. I usually start with a pen and paper but soon I key the words into my word-processor on the computer. Then I can cut and paste words easily as I redraft the…

P for poem. And P for Polish. I don’t consider a poem finished until I’ve polished it till it shines. And if it sings, too, that’s even better. (I thought you meant poems from Poland for a moment, Celia ! – RS)

Q is for Questions. Here are a couple of questions that I’m often asked.

Q: When did you start writing poetry?
A: As soon as I’d learnt how to write. Before that I made them up in my head.

Q: Can you can remember any poem you wrote when you were a child?
A: I remember writing one about the Beatles. It began:

John, George, Ringo, Paul,
I think they’re fab and love them all.

(Which shows how old I am!)

R is for Rhymes. Not all my poems rhyme, but most do. Sometimes I try and stop them, but rhymes are wriggly things and usually find their way in. R is for Reading, too. The more you read, the better your writing becomes in my experience.

Celia Warren TrailS and T are for the Stockbridge Trail. This is a poetry trail in Stockbridge, Hampshire. Ten poems were chosen from hundreds suggested by local residents. These are now on display along the main street, an old drove road running through the beautiful little town. Some are carved in stone; some engraved on glass; mine is cast in metal and sits proudly on the wall of the fire-station.

U is for the Universe. There is no limit to what you can write a poem about – perhaps that’s why it’s called the uniVERSE!

V is for Vegetarian Flea. I’m not veggie, but if I were a flea I would be …


Mum says I should join a circus;
She thinks I’m a freak,
But just the thought of sucking blood
Makes my legs turn weak.

Once I bit a dog and it tasted awful,
Then I bit a cat and was nearly sick,
But when I bit a carrot I went back for seconds
And I took three bites from a celery stick.

Nothing tastes better than banana
And I love a bit of Stilton cheese,
But we just don’t like the taste of blood
We vegetarian fleas.

© Celia Warren

Worm poems by Celia Warren.
Worm poems by Celia Warren.

W is for Worms. I have been collecting worm poems for years now and then I started writing my own. At last, they grew (as even small worms do) into a book that was published by Bloomsbury. It’s called Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles.

X is for an eXtra special occasion. That was when I met Gary Lineker at the launch of “More of Gary Lineker’s Favourite Football Stories”, published in 1998 by Macmillan. My story is at the beginning of the book. Have you read it?

Y is for YOU! If you like writing poetry keep at it. Hang on to your best poems to read when you’re older. It’s fun to see how your writing changes and develops with practice. (Sometimes your spelling gets better, too!)

Z if for zzzzzzz …!
(But always keep a notebook and pencil by your bed. Some of my best poems arrived at 2:00 in the morning when I least expected them!)

Click this link to buy Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles or find out more.

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