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  • Writer's pictureMark Bird

My Poetry Teachers - a poem dedicated to the brilliant poets and poems who inspired my journey.

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

So I thought ... what's the best way to celebrate the launch of my new website?

The answer was simple! Write a poem dedicated to all of the poets who inspired/ taught me in my childhood, youth and in the early days of my teaching career.

There weren't many books in my little council house during my 70's childhood or in my 80's youth but those that found their way through Number 28, were usually books of poems. Books stamped out time and again from Uttoxeter's library: a porthole to the future if ever there were one.

I remember being very young and reading Dr Seuss again and again and again, wondering what this new world was that could leave my body behind and set light to a burgeoning brain.

I felt a a bit guilty about the lack of female poets when I'd finished but that's how it was for a working class boy. These are the poets and poems that fell into my world back then.

And finally, I know the poem is way too long but the tribute had to be complete and honest.

Thank you to all of my first poetry teachers, whether you taught me from books or in classrooms.



My Poetry Teachers

My favourite teachers still teach in my head

I met every one on a page that I read

A page in my childhood, a page in my teens

A page full of portals to worlds never seen

My favourite teachers still make me write lines

in verses in stanzas, in rhythms in rhyme

They taught me to jump with a cow over moons

and run faraway with the dishes and spoons (Mr Anon)

I learned how to feel others’ feelings, from small

all thanks to an egg who once fell from a wall (Mrs Anon)

They taught me to wish, to pretend, even lie

to buy magic beans that shoot hope to the sky (Mr Silverstein)

I learned of a land where the cows all go bong

where giggles were born in the Ningy Nang Nong (Mr Milligan)

They taught me on days when the sun is not sunny

the rain that is rainy won’t stop fun that’s funny’ (Dr Seuss)

I learned halfway up, halfway down on the stairs

there’s nowhere quite like it to say secret prayers (Mr Milne)

They taught me in life there are lions to fear

so don’t stick your ‘orse ‘ ead inside of their ear (Mr Edgar)

I learned that true love can play all sorts of tunes

by Owl and Cat dancing under a moon (Mr Lear)

They taught me true love, with its last ever breath

can keep love alive, far beyond earthly death (Mr Noyes)

They taught me to question what grown-ups have said

Miss Hood’s cosy coat could be wolf-fur dyed red (Mr Dahl)

I learned on life’s journey you’ll meet fiends and fakes

so don’t spend your nights in hotels run by sssnakes (Mr Moses)

They taught me to put inside every box

a mountain of magic, a moment’s tick-tock (Mr Wright)

I learned on life’s bear hunt that one thing is true

You cannot go under, if you can go through (Mr Rosen)

They taught me a child gone away upon air

In our mothers’ gardens still lingers right there (Mr Louis Stevenson)

I learned we’re all aliens travelling through space

accept everyone for their deeds, not their face (Mr McNaughton)

They taught me to tread very softly on dreams

for some dreams are poor and may vanish, unseen (Mr Yeats)

I learned to remember the past and not cry

for those that I’ve loved didn’t fade, didn’t die (Mrs Harner)

They taught me success is to fail inside and out

to line with thick silver, those grey clouds of doubt (Mr Guest)

I learned to seek orange trees, oceans glass-blue

and lands teachers taught me of but never knew (Mr Patten)

They taught me to question which road I should take

The one travelled less might be your best mistake (Mr Frost)

I learned to remember that dawn turns to day

and green is a memory of gold that can’t stay (Mr Frost)

They taught me on some days you might lose your YOU

So be your own poem, on days that you do (Mr McGough)

I learned I am Spider, I learned I am Fly

I learned in a web, I can live or can die (Mrs Howitt)

They taught me to treasure a mind of my own

That no one can burgle, I’m Billy McBone (Mr Ahlberg)

My favourite teachers still teach in my head

From pages I’m reading and pages I read

A page of the future, a page of the past

A page full lessons, all written to last

My poetry teachers in word and in line

All leant me their thoughts for a mind that’s all mine

Mark Bird

An apple for teacher on a stack of books, on a desk
For my poetry teachers

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