Copyrightfrom Mad, Bad and Dangerously Haddock (Lion, 2006), copyright © Andrew Fusek Peters 2006, used by permission of the author and the publisher
Full track listing for the special recording made for the Poetry Archive
Andrew Fusek Peters (b. 1965), the tallest poet in the UK, has written more than 45 books for children, two of them nominated for the Carnegie Medal. His anthology Sheep Don't Go To School has been chosen to be on the National Curriculum, and his choice of the best of his poems, Mad, Bad and Dangerously Haddock, is published by Lion in 2006. He has visited hundreds of schools over the past twenty years, often with his didgeridoo, and always with what the Radio Times called "wonderful poems!"
His reading starts close to home, with poems about family and pets, and moves out into the world, to nature, to school, and as far as the stars in 'Tide and Seek' that "play / Hide and seek with the Milky Way." Some are silly - there's the nonsensical 'Poem for the Verbally Confused' or the mischievous misunderstandings of 'Hey Diddle Diddle' - and some are very serious, like 'The River of Tears', written for the poet's dead brother. There are love poems, like 'The Passionate Pupil Declaring Love', and, although 'Love Poem to Kevin (He'd Better Get the Message)' sounds like another love poem, the message in the title is actually that "I'd rather snog a Yeti!".
Peters is a poet who likes to use rhyme and bouncy rhythms, so that a poem like 'Dad', with its riddling descriptions of a father, comes as close to a song as a poem can without becoming one. Others have less insistent forms, including a touching memory of his grandmother in free verse ('Morning') and a description of a rainstorm as if given by a racing commentator ('Use Your Rains'). He ends the reading with a tour-de-force performance of 'Rush Hour Rhythm', giving the poem the same crush that a rush hour has by managing to hurtle along without seeming to need to breathe as the words try to crush themselves into the poem.
Peters is a practised performer, having been a presenter of the BBC1 poetry series Wham Bam Strawberry Jam, and knows how to fit the best performance to each poem - so much so that the poem 'Mum', a companion piece to 'Dad', is read by his wife and frequent co-author, Polly Peters. When he visited the Edinburgh Festival, the Scotsman wrote that "with easy, non-patronising rapport, [he] entranced children Pure entertainment!" It's easy, listening to this CD, to feel the same enchantment.
His recording was made on 10 January 2006 at the Audio Workshop, London, and was produced by Richard Carrington.
You can get it, free of charge, here.