The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) has announced the 2022 shortlist for the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award). Established in 2003, the CLiPPA is the UK’s leading award for published poetry for children. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard and Jackie Kay; Michael Rosen won in 2021 with his collection On the Move: Poems about Migration.
For the first time, this year’s shortlist was announced live at the Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University. Schools from across the city attended with pupils from Lily Lane Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary School and Levenshulme High School reading poems from each of the shortlisted collections on stage.
The 2022 shortlist reflects the extraordinary vitality of the UK’s poetry publishing for children. Independent publishers dominate: Otter-Barry Books has three on the list, including a collection of poems dealing with worries and anxieties; a book for the very young from Matt Goodfellow, who was shortlisted in 2021 too; and a brand new collection from Valerie Bloom. Birmingham-based The Emma Press is also represented with a new collection from the 2017 CLiPPA winner Kate Wakeling. Manjeet Mann makes the shortlist for the second year in succession with her Costa Book Award winning verse novel The Crossing, published by Penguin.
The full shortlist is:
Stars with Flaming Tails by Valerie Bloom, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books. The judges called this a lively demonstration of how children’s poetry can move from the personal to the planetary, the surreal to the scientific, laugh-out-loud to stop-and-think, in a breath.
Being Me Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, illustrated by Victoria Jane Wheeler, Otter-Barry Books. The judges said: Being Me weaves three distinctive writing voices with a deft and witty illustrator’s eye to give young readers words and images to help them map all angles of their inner lives.
Caterpillar Cake by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage, Otter-Barry Books. The judges said: Caterpillar Cake shows that we can bring subtlety and scope to the youngest reading ages by the power of reading aloud, not just hearing but feeling the words on your tongue.
The Crossing, by Manjeet Mann, Penguin. The judges said: The Crossing combines the narrative reach of a novel and the line by-line impact of poetry to tell the most urgently contemporary of stories in personal voices we cannot ignore.
Cloud Soup by Kate Wakeling, illustrated by Elina Brasliņa, The Emma Press. The judges said: Cloud Soup whirls its readers deep into the play of the imagination so effortlessly that we barely notice how much we are learning about the craft, the thrilling possibilities, of poetry.
Shortlisted poets Valerie Bloom, Matt Goodfellow, Laura Mucha and Kate Wakeling attended the special event in Manchester and read their poems for the hugely enthusiastic audience.
Poet and former professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales Philip Gross, who is chair of the judges, said, ‘This year’s crop of books shows the diverse energies of children’s poetry exploding in all directions, a glorious quandary for the judges to have: how to reduce this abundance to a shortlist, let alone a single winner. There seems to be a new confidence in the air, among publishers as well as writers – building on poetry’s full resources, searching out new growing points.’
Philip Gross is joined on the judging panel by fellow poets Nikita Gill and John Lyons, Becky Swain, Director of the Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Charlotte Hacking, Learning and Programme Director at CLPE.
Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive, CLPE said ‘CLPE is delighted to be celebrating the best of children’s poetry with live audiences again, and announcing the CLiPPA 2022 shortlist at the Manchester Poetry Library is such a treat. These five superb poetry books show just how diverse, accessible and essential children’s poetry is – and we can’t wait to share them with thousands of children from hundreds of schools across the country.’
As well as celebrating outstanding poetry, the CLiPPA encourages schools to explore the shortlist with their pupils through its Shadowing Scheme, each year prompting poetry performances in hundreds of classrooms across the UK. The Shadowing Scheme is free for schools and launches on 17 May 2022.
The next date on the CLiPPA calendar is a celebration at The Globe on 20 June when shortlisted poets will perform for another live audience at the Poetry By Heart competition finals at The Globe.
The winner of the CLiPPA 2022 will be announced at a very special ceremony in central London on Friday 8 July. The venue is the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Young winners of the 2022 Shadowing Scheme competition will perform live onstage to an invited audience as will all the shortlisted poets. The event will be streamed live into schools across the UK and beyond.
The CLiPPA is delivered in partnership with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and supported by Arts Council England.