Michael Rosen

Image by Caroline Forbes

Michael Rosen

b. 1946


What happens with me is quite often I start with a memory, mix it with observations of people I know and then mix in a bit of 'What if...?' - Michael Rosen


About Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen (b. 1946) says he became a children's poet by accident - "I thought I was being an ironic adult poet but children's literature 'claimed' me". He has since become a very well-known poet, for adults as well as children, and also writes plays; he has worked in television and radio too, in programmes from Home Truths to Playschool. He is a winner of the Eleanor Farjeon Award for Children's Literature and the National Literacy WOW Award, has received an honorary doctorate from the Open University, has an MA and Ph.D and is presently Professor of Children's Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. From 2007-2009 he was Children's Laureate. He has been involved in one way or another with more than a hundred books.

This recording, though, is taken from just three of those books: his Book of Nonsense, Even More Nonsense, and In the Colonie. The first two are, indeed, full of Nonsense, as titles like 'Bips', 'The Smeenge' and 'Plonky Wonky Doodah' suggest. Rosen says that his Nonsense is in conversation with Edward Lear, who wrote dozens of limericks too, so it's not surprising to find '3 Limericks' in this section. And hidden in the Nonsense are moments of Rosen's life, such as the children in 'Get Up' who are based on his then-teenage sons.

The poems from In the Colonie are very different; aimed at a more grown-up audience, they are prose poems, with gentler sound effects ("or, if you prefer, they're paragraphs", he says), and make familiar sense. They are each a detail from a memoir, based around his time in a French holiday camp as a child, and work together to give a picture of a time when "You could sit in the heat, pulling your sunburn off and dropping it in the water, and talk about the girls", a time when the language became so natural that he writes "I've stopped translating... On y va is all I've got."

Rosen uses his radio and theatre experience throughout this recording, reading his prose poems clearly and expressively (and grabbing the opportunity to make the "peeoo peeoo" sound effects of guns on television with glee), and he gives full vent to the strong rhythms that drive his Nonsense poems on, making the most of the comical rhymes. It's impossible not to agree with the Observer's verdict that his work is great at "turning the world inside out and making it funny."

Michael Rosen's first recording was made on 5 April 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London. His second recording was made at ID Audio, London, on 12 April 2016. Both recordings were produced by John Green.

Selected bibliography

You Wait Till I'm Older Than You, Puffin, 2008.

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You Tell Me, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2015...

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Bananas in My Ears, Walker Books, 2011.

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Michael Rosen's Big Book of Bad Things, Puffin, 2010...

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Selected Poems Penguin Books Ltd, 2007

Skin of Your Back Five Leaves Publications, 1996

Fighters for Life, Selected Poems Bookmarks, 2007

Michael Rosen's A-Z Penguin Books Ltd, 2009

Poems for the Very Young Pan Macmillan, 1996

Prizes

2005 National Literacy WOW Award

Prize website

1998 Parent magazine's Play and Learn Award

1997 Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children's literature

1990 Smarties Best Children's Book of the Year Award We're Going On A Bear Hunt

Prize website

1982 Signal Poetry Award You Can't Catch Me

Prize website

Recordings

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen downloads

1Air

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2The Messenger

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3Alligator Problem

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4Eddie Dream

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5The Book

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6Car School

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7If a Computer

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8Words are Ours

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91954

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10Today, One Day

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11The Seagulls

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12On the Move Again

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13Daddy-Long-legs in a Hotel Room

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14Our Flat

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15Chazze Bupke

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16The Head's Toilet

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17Science

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18Over My Toes

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19Feeling Ill

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20After Dark

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21Hot Pants

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22Yellow Rock

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23Where Does the Bounce Come From

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24Sleek Machine

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25Kaleidoscope

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26Shadow

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27Steamy Shower

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28Tricks

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29Boy Friends

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30Thirty Two Lengths

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31Going Through the Old Photos

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32Newcomers

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33Mrs Townsend

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34Platform

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35Pebble

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36You Tell Me

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37Rodge Said

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38When We Go Over

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39Chivvy

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40The Talent Show

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41A True Story

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42Wrong

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43Where Broccoli Comes From

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44Useful Instructions

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45Running

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46Miss Stafford

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47Talking-Tubes

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48My Friend Roger

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49Mum's School

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50Proverbs

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Books by Michael Rosen