Olympic Poems is an engaging and varied anthology of sports themed poetry from two well established and highly skilled poets. There is something here for all readers, children and adults, whether they aspire to compete, prefer to spectate or are required to organise, whether they enjoy sport or definitely do not.
If you are looking for advice for staging your own Olympics and a recipe for what you need to be an Olympic athlete, you will find it here. There are poems about specific events such as hurdling, sprinting and running a marathon – ridiculing the trend for wearing outrageous costumes.
There is a nod to sporting history with poems about sports stars of the past such as Cassius Clay and Mark Spitz and to real events with Roger Bannister’s first four-minute mile, read this poem aloud and the rhythm of the poem echoes the pace of the race building excitement. Today’s children might enjoy reading about more contemporary sporting heroes too.
A range of poetry styles is included for example Haiku with Synchronisation, and Kennings with Athlete. Trampolining is a shape poem with the words bouncing across the page. A poetry marathon runs through the book, showing how the shape and pace of a poem can echo the changing phases of a marathon race.
The anthology includes plenty of humour, and there is lots to trigger the imagination – readers would have great fun thinking about more events in a Lazylympics for example. Word play abounds in poems such as Sporting Definitions (dressage – how long it takes to get ready!) There are changes of mood too with the more poignant A Sporting Chance about being left out and jealousy in I never learnt to dive like Dave. There are poems about boasting ‘I am the fastest’ and ‘Winning’ is a poem about being kind by letting someone else win.
It always rains on Sports Day will chime for many teachers used to the constantly rescheduling involved in planning this annual event!
First published in 2012 in the year of the London Olympics children and adults will enjoy this enjoyable, varied collection and it may well inspire young writers to have create their own sports themed poems using the highly accessible models as a starting point.