© 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

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • Mind Your Own Business (illustrated by Quentin Blake), Andre Deutsch 1974 / Collins 1975 / Scholastic 1996
  • You Tell Me: Poems by Roger McGough and Michael Rosen, (with Michael Rosen), Viking Kestrel 1979
  • Quick Let's Get Out Of Here (illustrated by Quentin Blake), Andre Deutsch 1983 / Puffin, 1985
  • Don't Put Mustard In The Custard (illustrated by Quentin Blake), Andre Deutsch 1985 / Scholastic, 1996 - out of print
  • The Kingfisher Book of Children's Poetry (editor; illustrated by Alice Englander), Kingfisher 1985
  • We're Going On A Bear Hunt (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury), Walker 1989
  • Did I Hear You Write?, Andre Deutsch 1989
  • A World Of Poetry (editor), Kingfisher 1991
  • The Chatto Book of Dissent (edited by Michael Rosen and David Widgery), Chatto and Windus, 1991
  • The Penguin Book of Childhood (editor), Penguin 1994
  • Walking the Bridge of Your Nose (editor; illustrated by Chloe Cheese), Kingfisher 1995
  • You Can't Catch Me, Abbey Media 1995
  • You Wait Till I'm Older Than You (illustrated by Shoo Rayner), Viking 1996 / Puffin, 1997
  • Poems for the Very Young Pan Macmillan, 1996
  • Skin of Your Back Five Leaves Publications, 1996
  • A Year With Poetry - Teachers Write About Teaching Poetry (edited by Michael Rosen and Myra Barrs), CLPE 1997
  • The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass, BBC Audiobooks 1997
  • Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense, Hodder 1998
  • Centrally Heated Knickers Penguin Books Ltd 2000
  • Even More Nonsense, Hodder 2001
  • Uncle Billy Being Silly (illustrated by Korky Paul), Puffin 2001 - out of print
  • Shakespeare, His Life and His Work (illustrated by Robert Ingpen), Walker 2001
  • Carrying the Elephant, Penguin 2002
  • Lovely Old Roly (illustrated by Priscilla Lamont), Frances Lincoln 2002
  • No Breathing In Class (illustrated by Korky Paul), Puffin 2003
  • Sonsense Nongs, Abbey Media 2003
  • This Is Not My Nose, Penguin 2004
  • Michael Rosen's Sad Book (illustrated by Quentin Blake), Walker 2004
  • Alphabet Poem (illustrated by Herve Tullet), Milet 2004
  • William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (illustrated by Jane Ray), Walker 2004
  • In The Colonie, Penguin 2005
  • You're Thinking About Tomatoes (illustrated by Quentin Blake), Barn Owl 2005
  • Dickens (illustrated by Robert Ingpen), Walker 2005
  • Carrying the Elephant and This Is Not My Nose, 57 Productions 2005
  • Michael Rosen Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive 2005
  • Fighters for Life, Selected Poems Bookmarks, 2007
  • Selected Poems Penguin Books Ltd, 2007
  • Michael Rosen's A-Z Penguin Books Ltd, 2009
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.


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

1982 Signal Poetry Award You Can't Catch Me

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