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

The Great Big Hole

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 60)

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 38)

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 34)

Michael Rosen

Riding Down to Boxland

Michael Rosen

My Friend Elsie

Michael Rosen

Three Limericks

Michael Rosen

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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

Michael Rosen Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive...

Carrying the Elephant and This Is Not My Nose, 57...

The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass, BBC Audiobooks 1997

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

Links

Recordings

Michael Rosen Reading from his Poems

1Introduction to Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense 2Rosie Rosie 3Really? 4Help 5Footling Around

63 Limericks

7The News

8Bleep 9Get Up 10Polypropylene 11Bips 12More, More, More 13Tag-Along 14Who Am I?

15Yesterday

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 30Treasure 31Introduction to In The Colonie 32Extract from In The Colonie 33Extract from In The Colonie

34Extract from In The Colonie

35Extract from In The Colonie 36Extract from In The Colonie 37Extract from In The Colonie

38Extract from In The Colonie

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60Extract from In The Colonie

61Extract from In The Colonie 62Extract from In The Colonie 63Extract from In The Colonie 64Extract from In The Colonie

A tour of the Archive with Chris Pearson

When choosing poems for my tour, I had just one criterion in mind: that each poem must allow me to comment on the...

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Books & cds by Michael Rosen