Image by Caroline Forbes

Michael Rosen

b. 1946

What happens with me is quite often I start with a memory, mix it with observations of people I know and then mix in a bit of 'What if...?' - Michael Rosen

The Great Big Hole

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 60)

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 38)

Michael Rosen

In The Colonie (an extract: 34)

Michael Rosen

Riding Down to Boxland

Michael Rosen

My Friend Elsie

Michael Rosen

Three Limericks

Michael Rosen

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About Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen (b. 1946) says he became a children's poet by accident - "I thought I was being an ironic adult poet but children's literature 'claimed' me". He has since become a very well-known poet, for adults as well as children, and also writes plays; he has worked in television and radio too, in programmes from Home Truths to Playschool. He is a winner of the Eleanor Farjeon Award for Children's Literature and the National Literacy WOW Award, has received an honorary doctorate from the Open University, and has been involved in one way or another with more than a hundred books.

This recording, though, is taken from just three of those books: his Book of Nonsense, Even More Nonsense, and In the Colonie. The first two are, indeed, full of Nonsense, as titles like 'Bips', 'The Smeenge' and 'Plonky Wonky Doodah' suggest. Rosen says that his Nonsense is in conversation with Edward Lear, who wrote dozens of limericks too, so it's not surprising to find '3 Limericks' in this section. And hidden in the Nonsense are moments of Rosen's life, such as the children in 'Get Up' who are based on his then-teenage sons.

The poems from In the Colonie are very different; aimed at a more grown-up audience, they are prose poems, with gentler sound effects ("or, if you prefer, they're paragraphs", he says), and make familiar sense. They are each a detail from a memoir, based around his time in a French holiday camp as a child, and work together to give a picture of a time when "You could sit in the heat, pulling your sunburn off and dropping it in the water, and talk about the girls", a time when the language became so natural that he writes "I've stopped translating... On y va is all I've got."

Rosen uses his radio and theatre experience throughout this recording, reading his prose poems clearly and expressively (and grabbing the opportunity to make the "peeoo peeoo" sound effects of guns on television with glee), and he gives full vent to the strong rhythms that drive his Nonsense poems on, making the most of the comical rhymes. It's impossible not to agree with the Observer's verdict that his work is great at "turning the world inside out and making it funny."

His recording was made on 5 April 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by John Green.


1998 Parent magazine's Play and Learn Award
1997 Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children's literature

Selected bibliography

Selected Poems Penguin Books Ltd, 2007

Skin of Your Back Five Leaves Publications, 1996

Fighters for Life, Selected Poems Bookmarks, 2007

Michael Rosen's A-Z Penguin Books Ltd, 2009

Poems for the Very Young Pan Macmillan, 1996

Centrally Heated Knickers Penguin Books Ltd 2000

The Penguin Book of Childhood (editor), Penguin 1994

The Chatto Book of Dissent (edited by Michael Rosen and...

A Year With Poetry - Teachers Write About Teaching...

Did I Hear You Write?, Andre Deutsch 1989

Dickens (illustrated by Robert Ingpen), Walker 2005

Shakespeare, His Life and His Work (illustrated by...

Walking the Bridge of Your Nose (editor; illustrated by...


A World Of Poetry (editor), Kingfisher 1991


The Kingfisher Book of Children's Poetry (editor;...


William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (illustrated by...

Alphabet Poem (illustrated by Herve Tullet), Milet 2004


No Breathing In Class (illustrated by Korky Paul),...


Uncle Billy Being Silly (illustrated by Korky Paul),...

You Wait Till I'm Older Than You (illustrated by Shoo...


We're Going On A Bear Hunt (illustrated by Helen...

Don't Put Mustard In The Custard (illustrated by Quentin...

Quick Let's Get Out Of Here (illustrated by Quentin...


Mind Your Own Business (illustrated by Quentin Blake),...

You're Thinking About Tomatoes (illustrated by Quentin...

Michael Rosen's Sad Book (illustrated by Quentin Blake...

Lovely Old Roly (illustrated by Priscilla Lamont),...

In The Colonie, Penguin 2005

This Is Not My Nose, Penguin 2004


Carrying the Elephant, Penguin 2002


Even More Nonsense, Hodder 2001


Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense, Hodder 1998


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