Winner of award for children’s poetry announced

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Jamaican-born poet and novelist Valerie Bloom has been awarded the 2022 CLiPPA for her collection Stars with Flaming Tails.

Bloom, 66, was presented with the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA) by 2021 winner Michael Rosen at the Southbank Centre in London.

Stars with Flaming Tails, which is illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, is a varied collection of poems covering the topics of family, friends and animals in empathetic and often humours ways.

Bloom, who draws on her Caribbean heritage in her poetry, implements a variety of poetic forms in the collection, including riddles and reverse verse and use of a cinquain and a rondel in a section entitled Fun with Forms.

Poet and chair of the CLiPPA judges Philip Gross said: “Stars with Flaming Tails is like a passport to the whole world, and beyond.

“This is poetry that can go anywhere, from the personal to the planetary, the surreal to the scientific, with its invitation to us all to look, and to laugh, to listen to our feelings, and to think.

“And meanwhile, almost without noticing it, we’re being handed the keys to the craft of writing for ourselves.”

The 2022 CLiPPA shortlist also included Being Me, a collection of poems dealing with worries and anxieties by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha and Caterpillar Cake, also by Matt Goodfellow, a book of read-aloud poems for very young children.

Bloom was awarded the prize for her poetry collection Stars with Flaming Tails (Ken Wilson-Max/PA)
Bloom was awarded the prize for her poetry collection Stars with Flaming Tails (Ken Wilson-Max/PA)

Winner of the CLiPPA in 2017 Kate Wakeling also featured on the shortlist with her collection Cloud Soup, and Manjeet Mann made the shortlist for the second consecutive year with her Costa Book Award winning verse novel The Crossing.

Previous recipients of the award include Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Jackie Kay and Joseph Coelho – the newly appointed UK Children’s Laureate.

The chief executive at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) Louise Johns-Shepherd said: “Valerie’s inspiring collection invites children to engage with poetry in so many different ways and speaks beautifully to all realms of human experience.

“It deserves to be in every book corner and library in the land. After the difficulties of the last two years it has been such a joy to celebrate this amazing shortlist with live audiences and at each event we have seen the enthusiasm and excitement for poetry bubble and fizz.”

Though Bloom has written and edited several volumes of poetry for children and adults, this is the first time she has won the CLiPPA.

In 2008, she was made an MBE for services to poetry.

In addition to the award, Bloom will receive £1,000 and be recorded for the National Poetry Archive.

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