Brent Poet Laureate Launch – meet featured poet #3: John Agard

What can I say about our third featured poet for the Brent Poet Laureate launch this Friday?! Basically he’s a total legend and it’s a huge honour to have him involved. John Agard is one of those names that my non-poetry friends know and respect and get excited about, a lot of them probably studied him at school and I often find those that did remember his poems fondly…

This year John is the recipient of the Queen’s Award Medal for Poetry, and in the past he has been Writer in Residence at the South Bank Centre and Poet in Residence at the BBC. Nuff said.

Step one: watch him do his thing below…
Step two: reserve your FREE ticket to see him on Friday evening!

King Bones (the only ninja skeleton living in Bow)

In spring last year I was lucky enough to be involved in an awesome project at Chisenhale Primary school in Bow, East London. I was working with two small-ish groups of boys aged 8 and 9, and a big chunk of what I did was supporting them to build the skills they need to confidently write and perform a group piece about their local area. For the first time on a project like this I also introduced the idea of each group ‘commissioning’ an original poem or rap written by me. They were my bosses, so it was up to them to tell me what they wanted their piece to be about, and to give me feedback at various points in the process. Some of the ideas they came up with were just awesome, and for them to see their off the cuff suggestions transformed into a piece of writing they were genuinely impressed by turned out to be an important part in their journey to writing more confidently themselves.

I’m only blogging about this now months later because life got busy, but also because the other day I found the piece about ‘King Bones’ (the only ninja skeleton living in Bow) and thought it might be fun to record myself speaking it and stick up here to document the project. So, that’s what I’ve done. It’s below, with the text included too. The kids liked it, but were disappointed I did not get to the bit where Bones has a battle on a spaghetti mountain because somebody keyed his car. Who knows, maybe a sequel is coming…

King Bones
If you see a gold mini cooper with tinted windows
It’s probably King Bones, it’s King Bones!
The only ninja skeleton living in Bow. King Bones! King Bones!

Tyres screech. The fire breathing engine smokes out the entire street.
A little grey cat hides behind a tree. The slightest breeze.
Then the car doors open. In slow motion. King Bones has arrived!
King Bones has arrived! He slips out like a deadly whisper.
Moves quick. What would you expect from a ninja?!
Yep, King Bones has arrived!
The mid day sky clouds over, Thunderclaps,
Louder than a hundred hungry hands drumming empty pots and pans,
Then silence. Suddenly night,
Except for the stars, and the gold of the car, nothing is bright.
king bones has arrived. king bones has arrived.

If you hear the roar of the old Trafford crowd as a ring tone
It’s probably King Bones, it’s King Bones!
The only ninja skeleton living in Bow. King Bones! King Bones!

In a sparkling white karate suit and cool black shades
The top of his skull’s shiny, like the surface of a lake
He walks over to the cat, and that’s when we notice that
King bones white Karate suit has got a dark black skull and cross-bones on the back.
He bends down, voice like a rattle
Rattles “lets be friends now!”
The little grey cat looks up, confused
Bones strokes it’s head and it mews
Now this you wont believe but I tell you it’s true
From it’s skull to it’s claws, from that one touch,
the cat’s now a skeleton too
tail wiggling, bony tail wiggling,
follows Bones back to the car, gets in with him.
As soon as the door clicks shut, the sky switches up,
Just like that, the days back, bright sun.
Must be me Mr. Bones, if I were you I’d run!

Simon Mole (and my bosses), 2012