The Kids by Hannah Lowe

I haven’t been able to settle to any reading recently – several long books have seen me get half way through and then reading the last few pages to speed up the process so it was good to see a poetry book I might like to read.

The Kids by Hannah Lowe is a very direct, accessible book of poems about so much but ultimately about us all being kids and parents, teachers and learners, not as separate entities but as a revolving cycle throughout life.

Lowe was a teacher of secondary school children, A-level in particular, in a London school and so her first section on kids she has taught had a special relevance to me as a teacher now retired. I loved The Sixth Form Trip with its quote at the start

This is more like bloody dog-walking than teaching


What teacher of any age of pupil has not experienced that feeling on a school trip with those snapped out commands trying to rein in more boisterous activities. Anyone remember Fenton the dog and his abysmal recall training? I could just picture the don’t care attitude, the not-so-sure about how to behave in this situation of the kids and then the utter captivation during the event which is beautifully captured in the poem.

In The Art of Teaching III we see the never-ending struggle to engage learners who need a bridge between home and school that sees us as teachers bringing out all of our toys to play with. (I know, I know – with which to play!) It is relentless, high-energy and can leave you drained at the end of the day.

And then there is Pepys. About not knowing how to pronounce the name and keeping on with Peppies. It reminds me of the time I read a greek myth to a class I was teaching and read the name Persephone as Percyphone and the student teacher training in my class taking me aside and quietly telling me the right way. Ah yes, we are all teachers and learners in a never-ending cycle and this is what stands out for me most in the book.

All of the poems are written as sonnets apart from The Stroke which is a turning point in the book and an acknowledgement of kids becoming parents and parents needing the care we would give to kids. This time comes to many of us and although it passes it is an upheaval and a stark reminder of mortality.

From here in the book we move into poems that are more about Lowe finding her place in the world as a parent, towards the end as a single parent and in Kathy and Carla how we always need guidance and support in everything we do to master what has already been mastered more.

I don’t read much poetry but really enjoyed this book.

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