The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Book Review : Poems Stuck in my Brain

Poems Stuck In My Brain
By Stephanie Henson

In her opening poem, Stephanie tells us Books are the Key to unlocking the imagination. With over 80 poems, she has provided plenty of opportunities for middle-grade readers to set free their thoughts with a confident, wide-ranging and highly readable collection.

In the regenerative message of hope in Mosaic Masterpiece, celebrating the possibilities of wonderfulness out of broken pieces, through the contrast between appearance and inner feelings in Superlatives and the sound advice within Trust the Process, encouraging the ‘drive to destinations of possibility’, Stephanie provides a supportive narrative for those experiencing the turmoil of adolescence.

The importance of self-care and perspective in poems like Maintenance, Laser Focus and Yo-Yo No Go, encourage the young audience to identify and understand the feelings of burn-out and how it can take a toll on mind and body. This, along with the skilful metaphors and descriptions within Flags, Offer, Few and Far Between, Looking Glass and the acrostic Self Worth, supports Stephanie’s central message that ‘everyone has something of value, an internal currency that determines self worth’, as she tries and succeeds in highlighting the importance of believing in this self-worth.

There is plenty of evidence in the collection of her positive and playful approach to life and learning with lovely poems such as The Evolution of School, The What Ifs, Sensory Spectacle, In This House and Teflon Superhero. She also investigates the minefield of adolescent relationships with sensitively written poems like The Popularity Puzzle, Crush and Beads, looking into issues and dilemmas associated with feelings of belonging and fitting in, while acknowledging the inner conflicts this can generate.

I think Stephanie’s skills as a consummate poet shine most brightly when she uses images and ideas within nature, which for me, illustrate and underline the importance of conserving and caring for our environment. She paints inspirational pictures that would surely spark the imaginations of young readers in poems such as Nature’s Paintbrush, The Mist, Wonders of a New Season, Frost, Snowflakes and The Chase. She encourages us to get out and experience the fun of ‘rolling down the last hills of freedom’ in Summer Ends and Skipping Rocks along the lake,’ where ‘the surface ripples with every pass.’

In Poetry Symphony, we read that

Writers are the conductors of poetic concerts,
music of the mind and pen.
Words are the notes that float across the page.
Sentences sing melodies of emotion

Well, in Stephanie Henson we have an excellent composer and conductor. So much to enjoy and think about in such a highly assured and confident collection, with the title poem encapsulating the result of reading her work perfectly. Like a wonderful set of tunes, I will be humming Poems Stuck in my Brain for some considerable time.

Jonathan Humble
March 12th 2023

About the Writer

Jonathan Humble

Jonathan lives in Cumbria. His work has been published online and in print in a number of magazines and anthologies. His first collection of poetry, My Camel's Name Is Brian, was published by TMB Books in 2015. His second poetry book, Fledge came out in 2020 through Maytree Press. His poems for children have been shortlisted and highly commended in the Caterpillar and Yorkmix poetry competitions and he is the editor of The Dirigible Balloon. His poems Masterclass and This Work is Done were chosen as the Milk House Poem of the Year at the end of 2022 and 2023.