Three gifted poets team up with a collection of poems dealing with worries and anxieties and find ways to develop empathy and mindfulness.
Read about the Land of Blue, where it's OK to feel sad, find ideas for what to do with worries or how to slow down when your head is full of hurry. Give yourself time to chill out, find quiet voices in noisy places and discover kindness in yourself and others.
Reviewed by Sam Keeley
Being Me is a collection of poems which deals with worries and anxieties by three poets well known for their empathy and perception. From reading the first poem in this collection I was hooked and read poem after poem finding they spoke to me in so many ways. ‘Thought Machine’ by Laura Mucha explores that inner voice which feeds us with negative thoughts and gives a simple yet effective strategy to deal with this. I have always been guilty of listening to this negative voice which nags at me on a daily basis and wish I’d read this poem as a child. The idea of taking one small thing you like is so effective as is selecting ‘NICE EARLOBES’ which really made me smile.
Other poems spoke to me in different ways. Matt Goodfellow’s ‘Michael’ which he writes about in his blog for Just Imagine, reminded me of children I have taught. The small detail of the child keeping his shoes and socks on was a poignant image and took me back in time nearly 25 years ago to my first class and a young man for whom simply getting to school at all was a huge achievement. I shared ‘Michael’ with my son who immediately mentioned a child in his class who always gets rewarded for what appear to be tiny things. It began a conversation and it made him think more deeply about his classmate.
‘The Land of Blue’ is a thought provoking poem by Laura Mucha which acknowledges that we all have ups and downs. This is a very helpful life lesson expressed using some glorious imagery.
Liz Brownlee’s, ‘In the Heart of a Book’ celebrates the power of reading and the way a book can transport us away from our everyday worries. The repetition and rhyme lend themselves to imitation and the creation of class poems which consider the potential of books to support mental health.
Victoria Jane Wheeler’s sensitive illustration capture the range of emotions and thoughts perfectly and could lead to fruitful discussions about body language and how it can reveal (as well as hide) our emotional state.
This is a collection that I thoroughly enjoyed as an adult reader and found much that resonated with me. It is a must-have for junior classrooms (as well as the staffroom). It could be dipped into in the classroom, poems could be selected for assemblies as well as a book to press into the hand of a young reader to explore independently. There are helpful notes written by leading developmental psychologist, Dr Karen Goodall, to guide discussion. Being Me is proof that poetry is the perfect medium to support mental health. The three poets combine to provide readers young and old with a reading experience of the highest quality which nourishes the soul. A classic to savour and return to regularly – just what the doctor ordered!
Read Matt Goodfellow’s blog.