The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Poet Feature ... Elisabeth Kelly

Find out about Elisabeth ...
Hello Balloonists!

Jonathan here!

One of the lovely things about editing a poetry balloon is that you get to work with a wonderful range of poets and illustrators. The poems that we upload to the Dirigible Balloon affect readers in different ways. Elisabeth Kelly sent us a poem called Magic in the Air which I found (to my delight) brought back memories of when I was a kid on cold mornings, walking to school pretending I was a dragon just as Elisabeth described in her brilliant poem.


I asked Elisabeth to send more of her work so that we could float this poet feature. We were doubly lucky because Elisabeth’s husband Damian Kelly provided some excellent pictures to illustrate the poems as well.
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022


So, without further ado, the Dirigible Balloon is proud to present the poems of Elisabeth Kelly …

Elisabeth is a teacher, mum and writer. She lives on a hill farm in Scotland, and loves chocolate puddings and the change of seasons. Her poems have been widely published in print, online and in anthologies including by Dodging the Rain, The Honest Ulsterman, One hand Clapping, Forest Publishing, Green Ink. She has a slim pamphlet published by HybridDreich, a pamphlet due with Hedgehog Poetry Press 2021 and a memoir chapbook due with Selcouth Station 2022.

Elisabeth kindly sent some more information and poems for you to read. Over to you, Elisabeth …

I fell in love with poetry when I was small, really small, I think! Reading Owl and The Pussy Cat and nonsense poems from Edward Lear with my Mum. It was a big, red, hard back book with black and white pencil drawings, and I loved it. Then I was given my very own copy of The Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson and memorised poems I liked. I chose poems because of the way they felt when I spoke them aloud.

As I grew older, I reached for different poets. Margaret Attwood and Wendy Cope when I was a teenager, and of course Sylvia Plath. It wasn’t until my early 40s that I began to write poetry that I felt were good enough to send out into the world.

During early 2020 when I began writing, I also hit a steep learning curve about modern poetry in the western world. How to be published, why, the pitfalls and the joys! Mostly I met wonderful people who wanted to write, talk about writing and read great new poems. It was lovely! My poetry for adults has now been published in several online and in print journals, and I have three chapbooks published.

I was also working at the time as an Early Years Principal Teacher, helping Early Learning and Childcare staff to enable children to fulfil their potential. I wrote a lot of training around early literacy. This coupled with my own young family eventually led me to writing for children.

I am passionate about young children having access to great, new, poetry that resonates with their lived experience. Picture books dominate the market for the under 5s, and there are fabulous ones. However, I believe there is something to be said for a child experiencing a poem that looks more like a poem they are going to meet when older. I often think children and adults don’t make the connection between some picture books and poetry and then if we are not careful poetry is an alien thing when a child starts to see it on a page aged 7 plus. So, I decided very unfashionably, to write poetry for a younger age group, and the wonderful Dirigible Balloon published some!


Here are some poems taken from Elisabeth’s poetry collection:

Watching Frogs
Poems for Young Children
Written by Elisabeth Kelly
Illustrated by Damian Kelly


I am excited!

Squirming inside,
itchiness in my feet,

a wiggle and a waggle,

as I jump down the street!


Today is a still day

Today I want to be
still
like that lamppost,
still
like those railings,
still like those houses.

I don’t want to bend in the breeze,

like that tree.

I want to be still.
Just for today.


The Daisy
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022


There is a flower on the
lawn, tiny and bright. You
crouch and I see it set
your world alight.


Pond dipping together

It feels like days stand
still dipping our net, try
not to spill!

We have him! Magic
swish, our hearts pound,
to see this fish.

You watch him make his
way, across the bottom,
of our tray.

Put him back! You cry
out, he needs to be free,
we have no doubt.


I love construction machines

I can feel their rumble
under my feet, it’s
getting in my heart’s
very own beat.

I can see the power over
the fence, the way the
scoop and tip make so
much sense!

I can hear their roar
drumming in my
ears, the noise is so
large it blocks out
my fears.


Sometimes

Sometimes,
I want to sit,
listening quietly.

Sometimes, I
want to stomp,
moving
powerfully.

Sometimes,
I want to flit, trying
out quickly.

Sometimes, I
want to romp,
dancing
madly.


Your World

There are horses
in the garden,

unicorns up ahead.

There are elves,
in the hedges,

dragons under the bed.

There are ogres
in the dustbins,

look they’re getting fed!

There is a world
in a paving
stone,

NO! A universe, you said.
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022
This picture is copyright (©) Damian Kelly 2022



Hunting a baby frog in the long grass

Where?
There!
Where?

THERE!

Oh, there?

What? Where?
There!
Yes there!

WOW.


Twinkle in the car

Watch the
dance, of
sunlight, as your
sequins catch
the light,

the car
suddenly a
blaze, with tiny
drops
of bright,

you reach your little
hands up, turn you
face to find
this sprite,

searching for
the source, of
this magical
sight.


The Grasshopper

I hear you
before I see you,

clever little grasshopper,
hidden away in the long grass,
all green and red and yellow
hiding
but I find you
follow your song,
lying flat on my tummy fully

focused
on you.


The New Tree

There are berries on the bushes,
apples in the shed.
Brambles on the hedges,
squashes ripening in their beds.

The trees are shaking leaves,
they tumble to the ground,
amongst them on the grass,
look what I have found!

A shiny, round conker
fresh from its spikey home,
a whole new tree,
getting ready to be grown.


Leaves

Look up, look down
colours all around.

Oranges in the streets,
leaves falling with a beat.

Reds swirling in the air,
catch them if you dare!


The poems above are copyright (©) Elisabeth Kelly 2022
The article was organised and edited by JH

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) is available through TMB Books and Maytree Press published a further collection (Fledge) in 2020. 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.