Mike Johnson Interview

Mike Johnson Interview
Andrea's Guest Poet is MIKE JOHNSON.
He is a brilliant children's poet and you can read his interview and some poems on this page.
How did your poetry writing get started?
A  English, and especially poetry, were the only subjects I was any good at, at secondary school, on top of which I used to love the lyrics of pop groups. The Beatles and Pink Floyd were my favourites then (probably still are), so I tried to write pop lyrics first.  Fail. Gradually, this  fun writing changed into writing ‘proper’poems and, with luck, I got published in magazines and, finally, in an anthology edited by David Orme.
Can we see a few poems please?
Here’s three of my favourites:
Laser death rays
out of date:
no chance, now, to
Wheels squeak,
turrets creak and
slimy, greenish
fluids leak. . .
I visit them
on weekend breaks.
They say, ‘Go on
for old time’s sake.
We’ll be so grateful,
if you do.’
          ‘Knock, knock.’
‘Who’s there?’
          ‘The Dr.’
‘Dr Who?’
Dog years tick tock tick quicker
than  human years, they say,
so please excuse me if I pant
and take my time, today:
it’s not my fault. I ran
before you walked or learnt to play.
By the time you started school,
I was turning slightly grey.
Blame nature and not me
if I’m past doggy middle-age;
my book’s nearing the end,
you’re still on the second page.
Let me sniff a little longer,
shuffling through leaves -
Autumn is my favourite time. . .
Soon Spring’s blooms you’ll breathe:
think of me, as you walk here, then,
our marvellous memories;
all that fun together, chasing,
running round these trees!
Yes, there’s a reason why I’ll pant
and take my time, today;
dog years tick tock tick quicker
than human years, they say.
for Julia Densham
Almost crystal clear,
as if inside her see-through skin,
Maisie was made of liquid glass;
could stand at the front
of our class,
yet not get in the way.
OK, maybe
some reflections and refraction
and no one could forget fantastic
prism shimmers,
as her body split white light
into glimmering bands of
red, orange, yellow, green, blue...
Truly amazing:
on lazy days of blazing sun,
strange rainbows played
over everyone.
What books can we find your poems in?
I’ve appeared in about 150 anthologies of poetry, since 1989 - best place to
find me is on good library shelves, in the children’s section. Whilst looking for me, you’re bound to find lots and lots of other great poems. Enjoy the search!
What’s your favourite poem or book?
My favourite novel is ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelly and my favourite poem is ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll (in ‘Through the Looking Glass’).

Note: you can read Jabberwocky in Andrea's favourite poems on this website
Where do you get your ideas from?

Absolutely anywhere: what I read, hear, eat; where I go; who I talk to; what
I dream…
Is it true that you taught Andrea how to write children’s poetry?
 She’s very generous, if she says that, but all I did really was point her in the right direction, about some  poetic things. I now teach ‘Creative Writing’ for The Open University, currently to students aged between 21 and 83! I also teach residential schools at Urchfont Manor College. Hopefully, I point a few more people in the right direction.
Do you visit schools? (and how can schools get in touch with you?)
I do visit schools, but not very often as I am quite busy teaching. If you are interested in me visiting, either to do poetry workshops for  children (aged 8-13) or for teachers (any age!), please contact me at b3gg1s at hotmail co uk
Do you have any funny school visit stories?
I always take a bottle of water with me, when in schools (poetry is thirsty work) and, one day, I opened a bottle in front of a class of 13-14 year olds. I forgot that the water was fizzy and - you’ve guessed it - KERSPLASH! - I got absolutely soaked. Got the biggest round of applause I’ve ever had!
Please can  we have a couple more poems?
Red were her lips
(she was always licking
strawberry ice-lollies).
Orange was her mobile
(she had a million friends,
back in Aberdeen).
Yellow was her T-shirt
(I bought a matching one,
at the cheapo beach shop).
Green were my friends
(she went to the indoor salt-
water pool with me).
Blue was what I felt
(after our final big bust-up,
at the end of the pier).
Indigo is my huge bruise
(she could kick pretty hard,
even in flip-flops)!
Violet is my new girl friend
(she’s from Bristol and
is here another week).
Looks like a long, long, long way down
to the ground.
like a long, long, long way down
to the ground.
Something says
I'm sure to be safe,
because I'm a baby bat,
but I think I'll hang around
for an itsy-bitsy bat-bit longer.
Why mum, why?
Time flies
and so must I. . .
Well, if you say so,
first time solo,                  
here I go.                                                                       I can fly!                                                                                           
 Here I go.                                                              I can fly.
      Here I go                                                   I can fly.
                      o                                           o
                           o                                 o
                                  o                   o
Please note all Mike's poems are copyright - if you want to use or publish anything please email me (use the Contact Andrea page) for permission)
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