Zaro Weil wins CLiPPA for ‘joyful’ nature poems

Zaro Weil has won this year’s Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (CLiPPA) for her collection of nature poems, Cherry Moon (ZaKids Books/Troika Books).

Described as “much-needed” and “joyful” by the judging panel, Cherry Moon was praised for its variety, and the opportunities the collection presents for sharing poems aloud.

Judge Steven Camden, spoken word artist and 2019 CLiPPA winner, said: “Cherry Moon feels like exactly what we need right now. A magical journey, grounded in natural beauty and a sense of communal wonder and hope.”

Poet Valerie Bloom, a fellow judge, said, “We found this a wonderfully evocative collection of poems a joyous celebration of nature and language. The playful exuberance of the text and complementary illustrations have immense child-appeal, but there is also an underlying thoughtfulness about the environment which parents and teachers sharing the book with younger children will appreciate.  This is a book to be read and re-read.”

Weil will receive £1,000 and a trophy, in addition to being recorded for the National Poetry Archive.

The judges also chose to spotlight Poems the Wind Blew In by Karmelo C Iribarren, illustrated by Riya Chowdhury, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. Described as “a lens on the world” by Camden, the collection is the first work in translation to be shortlisted for the award.

The announcement was made during a live poetry show, as part of the Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

During the ceremony, Louise Johns-Shepherd, c.e.o. of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, revealed that record numbers of schools have already subscribed to the special CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme, which encourages schools to study the shortlisted collections and then create their own poetry performances of favourite poems. She said: “Over 500 schools have signed up to CLiPPA Shadowing to date, three times the number in 2019, and we anticipate even more will join before the end of the month.”

She added: “The CLiPPA is a huge, inclusive celebration of poetry and its power to engage children. There has been a marked upsurge in interest in poetry for children this year – the National Poetry Archive has seen record levels of site visits for example and subscriptions to our Shadowing Scheme are three times what they were in 2019. Our winner is the perfect book for today: Zaro’s poems allow children to explore their emotions and understand them as shared experiences; and it connects readers with the natural world, something that is vital at this time. Children need poetry right now, and we are delighted that so many children and their teachers joined us to celebrate at the Poetry Show.”