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Poetry Archive: Robert Hull Reading from his Poems

Robert Hull

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The Poetry Archive

December 2012


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Robert Hull has worked with poetry in schools for many years, and has published, amongst more than forty titles, five full-length collections of poetry.

These include three collections of poetry for children, the most recent of which, High Tide, was published by Salt in 2010. Another collection, Stargrazer (1997), was shortlisted for the 1998 Signal Prize History titles, and he was shortlisted for the CLPE Award in 2003 for Everest and Chips (2002). The poems collected in these three books represent a huge range of themesand forms, encompassing retellings and rewritings of Galileo's story, of Creation myths of various cultures, and of the Romans, the latter appearingas a ghostly presence, leaping out of the past to rush past the narrator in a chariot! There are poems which look to space, to history, to world conflict, and then there are those which refocus, looking through the microscope of poetry to ‘peer in each pond, / scan each path' for the frogs and hedgehogs in the poet's garden, or the memories of the whales and witches drawn on the kitchen table, or the familiar sounds of the bath-taps in one's own house.

These are deftly mixed in with poems about playful inquiry: who exactly is  ‘A. Non'? Why can't we use the word ‘and' a lot in our writing? These questions about The Rules of writing speak to those in his school workshops, inviting children to write, to experiment, to throw out the rulebook and start a poem.Whilst appealing to children's natural sense of rhythm through list poems and repetition, Robert Hull's poetry does not talk down to his audience, nor pander to ‘traditional' topics for children. His exploration of universal themes of loss and love appeal as much to adults as children, and even those more accessible to the youngest are multi layered and rich;  ‘Arundel swimming pool', with its noisy splashes and shouting and ‘good fun foreveryone', is going to be shut down ‘to make a lot of money / for someone',speaking as much about local politics and a sense of community as ‘all theslosh / and swirl and splash / and shouting friendly din'. The community swimming pool in Robert's poem is only one very recognisably British location evoked in these poems. These are the places we all remember, worlds occupying special places in the collective consciousness of theyoung: the beaches of a summer holiday; the hedgerow in a field ‘a smallchild's zoo and bird-world'; the thrill of snow falling on your own street, the Christmas trombones of the brass band outside the department store.

1. A.Non 0.29
2. Frost 1.33
3. Hunting in February 1.20
4. Hedgehog and moonlight 0.49
5. Self-advert for mole program tonight. 0.37
6. Frogs 1.05
7. An April Poem 1.01
8. ‘Gift Offer - Traditional Wishing Well - £47-50' 1.25
9. Leaving 0.37
10. Table 0.58
11. Sound count down 0.33
12. Houses 1.05
13. Steam 0.54
14. English Rules - Not OK 1.11
15. As, as, as... 1.09
16. Lambs in May 1.19
17. Arundel swimming pool 1.11
18. Roman Terror 1.58
19. The Tale of Sir Toby the Timid 3.24
20. Galileo's Story 1.16
21. Space 0.24
22. The Girl who made the stars - a Bushman story 0.41
23. The Maker Said 1.26
24.When the Creator made the birds 0.41
25. Things with feathers 1.23
26. Beginnings 0.54
27. ‘Please do not feed the animals...' 0.52
28. Shiny cheery poem 0.51
29. High Tide 1.28
30. Sea-side September 0.52
31. Useful phrases for when you're on holiday... 1.11
32. Hedge 2.00
33. Deer's Skull 0.45
34. Autumn Flood 0.45
35. Swallows in September 1.10
36. Starting School - Preston 1912 2.22
37. December 1.05
38. Snow 0.35
39. Robin at Christmas 0.57
40. It's Christmas so... 1.17
41. For Imogen - newly arrived 0.54
42. Peace Process 0.44
43. Recent history lesson 0.30
44. Ping Feng 0.55
45. Humpty, the true story 2.57
46. Evening Song 0.50
47. Shadows 0.30
48. The Graveyard by Croston Church School 1.21

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