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, and 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."

His recording was made on 5 April 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by John Green.

Selected bibliography

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

Centrally Heated Knickers Penguin Books Ltd 2000

The Penguin Book of Childhood (editor), Penguin 1994

The Chatto Book of Dissent (edited by Michael Rosen and...

A Year With Poetry - Teachers Write About Teaching...


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


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1Introduction to Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense

2Rosie Rosie



5Footling Around

63 Limericks

7The News


9Get Up



12More, More, More


14Who Am I?


16Postscript to Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense

17Introduction to Even More Nonsense

18Something that Smells

19Walking Home

20Plonky Wonky Doodah

21My Friend Elsie

22The Great Big Hole

23You Think You Know

24The Smeenge

25Riding Down to Boxland

26Inky Stinky

27My Drink

28Windscreen Wipers

29Our Party


31Introduction to In The Colonie

32Extract from In The Colonie

33Extract from In The Colonie

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Books by Michael Rosen