'Small ideas can resonate through everything': Poet Steven Camden introduces the books shortlisted for the CLPE Children's Poetry Prize

Published on: 30 September 2020

The CLPE Children's Poetry Prize, or CLiPPA, is the UK’s only award for published poetry for children and is hotly contested! This year there are five wonderful books on the shortlist, and they demonstrate the extraordinary vitality of the UK’s poetry publishing for children.

To celebrate National Poetry Day, 2019 winner and 2020 judge Steven Camden talks us through the shortlisted books...

Steven Camden and the CLiPPA shortlist 

Steven explains what it was about the poems that caught the attention of him and his fellow judges: ‘I was pretty nervous going into the judging meeting because I felt really strongly about my choices. My favourites on the list really affected me and I was apprehensive about fighting their corner with people I didn’t really know. Within five minutes it was clear that those books that touched me had touched the other judges just as strongly and what followed was a gorgeous celebratory conversation of some truly stunning creations. What a treat and privilege.’

The shortlisted books are:

Midnight Feasts. Tasty Poems chosen by A.F. Harrold.

Illustrated by Katy Riddell, Bloomsbury.

Steven says: This is a perfectly paced and pitched collection that feels like sneaking downstairs after bedtime to eat biscuits and giggle. 

Poems the Wind Blew In, Karmelo C. Iribarren.

Illustrated by Riya Chowdhury, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, The Emma Press.

Steven says: A fantastic example of the beauty of moments and how small ideas can resonate through everything. I will keep this collection with me in my coat pocket at all times. 

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko.

Illustrated by Richard Jones, Walker Books.

Steven says: I opened this book up and fell in. The perfect marriage of stunning visuals, beautifully pitched sentiment and warmth completely got me. I want to share this book with every young reader I know.

Wain. LGBT Reimaginings of Scottish Folklore, Rachel Plummer.

Illustrated by Helene Boppert, The Emma Press.

Steven says: To bring myth and folklore to the front and straddle ancient beauty with a contemporary feel is something very few pull off. Rachel’s collection does it through a subtle accumulation of powerful visual and lyrical fragments gifting us with stories that feel truly timeless.

Cherry Moon, Zaro Weil.

Illustrated by Junli Song, ZaZaKids Books/ Troika Books.

Steven says: Reading it felt like a soothing meditative wander away from the hectic world. I was hypnotised by its magical beauty and each piece felt like a new gem I discovered along the way.

A spread from Cherry Moon by Zaro Weil. Illustration by Junli SongIllustration: Junli Song

Steven and his fellow judge poet Valerie Bloom will announce the winner of the 2020 CLiPPA at a special Poetry Show at the The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, at the culmination of the CLF schools’ programme, at 2pm on Friday 9 October. The Poetry Show will feature performances by the shortlisted poets as well as live drawing by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. Schools across the UK and beyond will be able to watch the show for free on The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival platform and access poetry CPD sessions created by CLPE.

Win all five books in the CLiPPA shortlist

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