Valerie Bloom

If I mentioned the name Valerie Bloom, would you know who I was referring to? Or I asked you about her work, would you know what she did?

Well, I was in the same position as you, if you’d answered no to any of the above…

I was at a local fair and found one of her books on sale. As a supply teacher I usually take poetry books to school to read to the children I teach and as I often leave things behind I’m always on the lookout for a bargain.The book I bought was ‘Let Me Touch the Sky’ I loved it and so did the children whom I read the poems to.

Valerie was born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1956 and moved to England in 1979. She completed a degree in English with African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury; later (in 2008) she was given an honorary master. In 2008 she was given an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) and is now part of a team that teaches teachers how to teach poetry at Centre for Literacy in Primary Education – Poetry

She has written lots of books (mostly in patois) in many genres, children poetry, stories, adult literature and have performed too live and on the radio. Her latest book, Jaws, Claws and Things (2013) I am still yet to read.

The poem that I love to read is Hair Cut Rap; it’s one that children often request.

Hair Cut Rap

Ah sey, ah want it short,

Short back an’ side,

Ah tell him man, ah tell him

When ah teck him aside,

Ah sey, ah want a haircut

Ah can wear with pride,

So lef’ it long on top

But short back an’ side.

Ah sey try an’ put a pattern

In the shorter part,

Yuh could put a skull an’ crossbone,

Or an arrow through a heart,

Meck sure ah have enough hair lef’

Fe cover me wart,

Lef’ a likkle pon the top,

But the res’ – keep it short.

Well, bwoy, him start to cut

An’ me settle down to wait,

Him was cuttin’ from seven

Till half-past eight,

Ah was startin’ to get worried

‘Cause ah see it gettin’ late,

But then him put the scissors down

Sey, ‘There yuh are, mate.’

Well ah did see a skill an’ a

Criss-cross bone or two,

But was me own skull an’ bone

That was peepin’ through

Ah look just like a monkey

Ah did see once at the zoo,

Him sey, ‘What’s de matter Tammy,

Don’t yuh like the hair-do?’

Well, ah feel me heart stop beatin’

When ah look pon me reflection,

Ah feel like somet’ing frizzle up

Right in me middle section

Ah look aroun’ fe somewhey

Ah could crawl into an’ hide

The day ah mek me brother cut

Me hair short back an’ side.

Another favourite of mine:

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2020© Sharon RM Stevens

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