About Joan Poulson
Joan Poulson grew up in south Lancashire. She works as writer, poet and visiting writer in schools. Her poetry includes Celebration (1995, UNICEF), Pictures in My Mind (Hodder, 1999) and Onetree Singing (2001, Blackthorn). She is the editor of Sling a Jammy Doughnut (Hodder, 2001) and author of a novel Dear Ms (A and C Black, 2001). Joan's poetry has won prizes in national and international competitions, and her work has been published and broadcast in New Zealand, Pakistan, Canada, the United States, Norway and Australia. She has held a wide range of writing residencies, many of which involve working with artists from other disciplines: musicians, sculptors, dancers and painters. Joan has run writing workshops for children in diverse contexts, from inner city New Mexico and Merseyside to the Voice Box at the South Bank Centre and Schumacher College in Devon. She is especially fond of the natural world and celebrates its variety both in her poetry and collaborations with other practitioners.
Joan's contribution to poetry written for children has been to affirm the child's worldview in transparent language which romanticises neither childhood nor the world that children live in. She validates their voice and perspective, and refuses to mediate their stories with adult knowingness. As her poem 'Millions' puts it: 'Aren't we/impressive?' In poems that range in subject matter from an observation of a snoring grandparent ('Like Grandad'), to the adoption of a baby sister who 'looks just like me' ('Like Me'), to befriending a pet dog ('Tell Sam') Joan writes directly about what it means to be a child in the twenty-first century.
Not least among her concerns is the fate of the natural world. Her poems delight in tiny details, presenting 'every petal, every stamen' of it ('Touch the Sun') in fresh and vivid focus. She conjures 'all the world/...as it's meant to be' but remains aware of the damage being done to wildlife and to habitats. In 'Poem for the Whales', a poem of direct address, she says of humans that 'we behave as if/you don't exist'. Joan Poulson's poems honour what we call the environment with wide-eyed amazement, from back-yard 'jungles' ('Snail-storm') to memorable miniatures of microscopic beauty, where dragonflies become 'sparkling sapphire helicopters/purple aeroplanes/with eyes of bright topaz'. The effect of listening to her read these poems is to come face to face with the child's eye-view of that world, with all its unpredictability and amazement.
These poems were recorded on June 29th 2010 at the Audio Workshop, London and were produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Joan Poulson's Favourite Poetry Sayings:
"Those who want to write good poems should be reading good poems" - Billy Collins
"Anything that's any good has to be discovered in the process of writing it " - Philip Pullman
Joan Poulson Reading from her Poems Poetry Archive, 2012
onetree journal Flarestack, 2010
Sling a Jammy Doughnut (editor) Hodder, 2002
onetree singing Blackthorn Books, 2001
Dear Ms A & C Black, 2001
earth-being Flarestack reprint, 2000
Pictures in my Mind Macdonald, 1999
Ladywell Lives Hospital Arts/N.W. Arts, 1996
Girls are like Diamonds O.U.P., 1995
Joan Poulson Reading from her Poems
2That's my dog
12Waiting for water
19Our farm, January
22Touch the sun
26Poem for the whales
27glad me: a prayer
28poem for January
32Crick, crack, crocodile!
33Three purple elephants
34Clatter of town
36Got the hump
39Pictures in my mind
40This might not sound serious
41A wave like a whale
42Last dive of the day
44Polly Pat's cat
45King of all the dustbins
46With a smile
47Master of disguises
48Not a snow cat
50How was I to know?
54Calendar of humans
58Song about a drummer
The writer and broadcaster Clive James introduces a few of his favourite poems in the Poetry Archive.