Valerie Bloom wins CLiPPA in celebration of children’s poetry

The winner of the UK’s only award for published poetry for children, the CLiPPA (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award) was announced on Friday 8 July in a ceremony at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. The show featured performances from all the shortlisted poets, children from schools across the UK and live illustration by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. Poet Valerie Bloom won the ALCS-sponsored gong.

Poet Valerie Bloom MBE has won the CLiPPA for her collection Stars with Flaming Tails, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max (Otter-Barry Books). Stars with Flaming Tails is a beautifully varied collection with poems on family, friends and animals. Bloom approaches each poem with rare empathy and much lively humour. She also plays with poetic forms, exploring riddles and reverse verse and including a cinquain and rondel in a section entitled Fun with Forms.

Stars with Flaming Tails, written by Valerie Bloom and illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max (Otter-Barry Books)

Though Valerie Bloom has written and edited several volumes of poetry for children and adults, receiving an MBE for services to poetry in 2008, this is the first time she has won the UK’s only award for published poetry for children.

Valerie draws on her Caribbean background in her poetry and believes that poetry helps us make sense of our world. She has described poems as mirrors and windows enabling children both to see themselves reflected and to look into others’ lives.

The 2022 shortlist reflects the extraordinary vitality of the UK’s poetry publishing for children. Publisher of Stars with Flaming Tails, small independent, Otter-Barry Books, had two other books on the list, Being Me, a collection of poems dealing with worries and anxieties by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha and Caterpillar Cake, also by Matt Goodfellow, a book of read-aloud poems for the very young.

Birmingham-based The Emma Press is represented with Cloud Soup, a new collection from the 2017 CLiPPA winner Kate Wakeling, and Manjeet Mann makes the shortlist for the second year in succession, this time with her Costa Book Award-winning verse novel The Crossing, published by Penguin.

CLiPPA-shortlisted poets with judge Nikita Gill pictured at the Globe. Photo: Poppie Skold

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 by thousands of children in hundreds of classrooms across the UK.

This year’s CLiPPA was celebrated at a special event at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, hosted by poet and 2021 CLiPPA winner Michael Rosen. Children from schools across the UK made up the audience with young winners of the Shadowing Scheme performing poems from each of the shortlisted collections live on stage alongside the poets.

Valerie Bloom receives a trophy and a cheque for £1,000. As part of the prize she will also be recorded for the prestigious National Poetry Archive.

For further information please visit CLiPPA