About Tony Mitton

Tony Mitton is one of the best children’s poets writing today. His first book, Plum appeared in 1998 and he has since published 14 more collections, his work appearing in numerous anthologies. He has won many awards and honours for his work and is a very popular visiting poet in schools.

He was born in Tripoli, North Africa, and because his father was in the British Army the Mitton family travelled around and Tony largely grew up overseas in both Hong Kong and Germany. From eleven to eighteen, he attended a boarding grammar school in Suffolk. Before that, at his prep school, he was appointed ‘After Lights-Out Storyteller’ for his dormitory - weaving stories from thin air for the entertainment of his fellow pupils.

He remembers writing his first poem in bed in his head when he was about nine or ten. Frustratingly, by morning the poem had mostly vanished, yet to this day he remembers it was in ballad form and was about a highwayman. He has said in interview with The Poetry Archive: “It’s possible that much of my poetry writing impulse may come from that experience...a good poem evaporated before one records it. Always since trying to recapture it in some form or other.”

Tony Mitton read English Literature at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, and then trained as an English teacher before eventually deciding to work in primary schools. Although he had been writing “obscure grown-up” poetry since his teens, working with primary children, and also reading to his own children gave him the impetus to try writing for them. With an audience of children he says, “You can't get away with obscurantism. No hoity-toity allusions, references, arcane lexicon, abstruse diction and other whatnotteries.” Yet despite this, Tony does write about big and often philosophical subjects, as we can see in 'Plum', whose stone holds the mystery of the eternal plum tree.

One of Tony Mitton’s greatest influences is Charles Causley (who you can also hear on the Children’s Archive). Both poets use a ballad form to tell stories. Listen to St Brigid and the Baker on this Archive recording for how the music and rhymes of this type of form carry the poem along. On the process of writing Tony has said, “a phrase or rhythm, usually both, a rhythmic phrase, tends to start the process off. If it convinces me, or just insists, I'll get to the point where I'll write it down.” He also encourages children to write their own poems down in 'Instructions for Growing Poetry', and at the same time hints there might be something both dangerous and exciting about poetry in Forbidden Poem - upon entering which “You’ll never be the same again.”

Tony Mitton’s voice is clear and expressive on this recording. It’s hardly surprising he was elected ‘Lights-Out Story Teller’ at his boarding school.

This recording was made on the 28th February 2012 at The Soundhouse in London, and the producer was Anne Rosenfeld.

Tony Mitton's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"Poetry can help us see the magical in the ordinary " - Tony Mitton

Selected bibliography

The Seal Hunter, Scholastic, 1998

Stone Words, Stonecarver: Eric Marland, 1998

Crazy Camelot Capers Series (8 titles in series) Orchard...

The Storyteller's Secrets, David Fickling Books, 2009

The Tale of Tales, David Fickling Books, 2003

Riggeldy Piggeldy, David Fickling Books, 2004

A Door to Secrets, Cambridge University Press, 1998

Fluff and Other Stuff, Orchard Books, 2001

The Red and White Spotted Handkerchief, Scholastic...

Prizes

1996 Nottinghamshire Children's Book Award Royal Raps

1997 Experian Big 3 Award Fangtastic Raps

1998 Guardian Children's Book of the Week Plum

2000, Smarties Silver Award Winner Red & White Spotted Handkerchief

2001 Poetry Book Society Choice Fluff

2001 Poetry Book Society Choice Pip

2004 CLPE Honour List for Children's Poetry Award The Tale of Tales

Prize website

2005 Sheffield Children's Book Award (Picture Book Category) Spookyrumpus

Prize website

2006 Dundee International Book Award (Picture Book Category) Spookyrumpus

2006 Portsmouth Children's Book Award Spookyrumpus

2007 CLPE Honour List for Children's Poetry Award My Hat and All That

Prize website

Recordings

Tony Mitton

Tony Mitton Reading from His Poems

1My Hat

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2Instructions for Growing Poetry

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3Growing

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4The Snake and the Apple

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5What is Under?

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6Magic Carpet

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7St Brigid the Baker

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8Forbidden Poem

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9Shore Music

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10The Selkie Bride

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11Bubble Songs

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12Secret Passage

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13The Minstrel and the Maid

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14Little Red Typewriter Ditty

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15Nightwriter

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16Puzzled Pea

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17Stone Circles

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18Green Man Lane

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19Elegant Elephant Delicatessen

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20Night Stairs

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21Nits

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22Flightpath

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23Rainforest Song

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24Child from the Future

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25I Wanna be a Star

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26Dreaming the Unicorn

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27Freak Cat-Flea

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28Old Noah's Animal Dance-Hall

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29Willow Pattern

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30Plum

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31Grown Out Of

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32Pip

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33Frog Hops

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34Worm Words

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35Minibeast Movements

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36Tiny Diny

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37String

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38Twang

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39Tissue

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40Key

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41Tiny and Shiny

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42Fluff

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43Shell

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44Coin

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45Bubblegum Balloon

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46Lollipop Poem

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47The Web

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48The Pirate

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49Arabian Nights

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50Rickerty Train Ride

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51Write-a-Rap Rap

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52Little Red Rap Rap

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53Fol de Rol Rap

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54Entrance

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55Dunwich

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56Yarn

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57The Taper

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58Shell Villanelle

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59Kwan Yin

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60Days

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61Penny Piece

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A tour of the Archive with Stephanie Anderson

On my first visit to the Poetry Archive I dipped in to see what was there, and discovered there was far more to hear...

Featured Guided Tours


Books by Tony Mitton