Poet Zaro Weil was today announced the winner of the annual poetry award, CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) for her collection of nature poems, Cherry Moon, published by ZaZaKids Books/ Troika Books and illustrated by Junli Song.
In a year of outstanding poetry publishing for children, the judges were particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness and variety of Weil’s poetry, the opportunities Cherry Moon offers for sharing poems aloud, and because, after months of lockdown, her book answers children’s growing need for poetry and the outdoors.
Judge Steven Camden, spoken word artist and 2019 CLiPPA winner, said ‘Cherry Moon feels like exactly what we need right now. A magical journey, grounded in natural beauty and a sense of communal wonder and hope.’
Fellow judge, poet Valerie Bloom said, ‘We found this a wonderfully evocative collection of poems a joyous celebration of nature and language. The playful exuberance of the text and complementary illustrations have immense child-appeal, but there is also an underlying thoughtfulness about the environment which parents and teachers sharing the book with younger children will appreciate. This is a book to be read and reread.’
From a particularly strong shortlist, the judges also chose to honour Poems the Wind Blew In by Karmelo C. Iribarren, illustrated by Riya Chowdhury, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel and the first work in translation to be shortlisted.
Valerie Bloom said of Poems the Wind Blew In, ‘One of the poems in this book is an instruction on how to get inside a book, and once you get inside this collection, you’re reluctant to get out. The 29 poems encourage the reader to look at everyday things with new eyes; to see the loneliness in bicycles and the cheekiness in clouds. It is a book for sharing and also for keeping close – like a friend.” Steven Camden added, “This book is a lens on the world in all its confusing, serendipitous beauty.’
The announcement of the 2020 Award was revealed in a live Poetry Show, part of the The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival and introduced by CLiPPA judges, poets Valerie Bloom and Steven Camden. The Poetry Show featured performances by the shortlisted poets as well as live drawing by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and was watched by thousands of children in schools across the UK and beyond.
They are now invited to explore the poems in Cherry Moon, Poems the Wind Blew In and the other shortlisted collections through CLPE’s hugely popular Shadowing Scheme launched alongside the announcement of the winner.
Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive at CLPE said, ‘The CLiPPA is a huge, inclusive celebration of poetry and its power to engage children. There has been a marked upsurge in interest in poetry for children this year – the National Poetry Archive has seen record levels of site visits for example and subscriptions to our Shadowing Scheme are three times what they were in 2019. Our winner is the perfect book for today: Zaro’s poems allow children to explore their emotions and understand them as shared experiences; and it connects readers with the natural world, something that is vital at this time. Children need poetry right now, and we are delighted that so many children and their teachers joined us to celebrate at the Poetry Show today.’
Zaro Weil receives a trophy and a cheque for £1000. As part of the prize she will also be recorded for the prestigious National Poetry Archive.
Find out more about the five books shortlisted for the CLiPPA.
The CLiPPA is delivered in partnership with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and supported by Arts Council England.