Jonathan Humble, Features Writer
Brilliant Adventures In A Poetry Balloon: Second Anniversary!
The second anniversary of the Dirigible Balloon approaches. On August 1st 2023 it will be two years since our website of poems written for children was launched to help plug a publication gap for poets who create within that genre. Twelve wonderful poets (the original Dirigible crew) allowed us to upload three dozen, free-to-view poems on a site safe for a young audience.
Since that first flight in 2021, the number of poets has gone beyond 200 and the number of poems, all high quality, entertaining and thought-provoking stuff, is well over 1000, many of which are supported with audio recordings. We have continued to include artist and poet features to inform our young readers, promote poetry and encourage creativity among children who have accessed the Balloon’s bank of wonderfulness in increasingly high numbers.
One of the most rewarding aspects is the contact with people whose love of poetry shines through and whose poems the DB is enormously proud to showcase
At the suggestion of some of our contributors, the DB published an anthology of work chosen from the website in a poetry book entitled Chasing Clouds: Adventures in a Poetry Balloon (Yorkshire Times Publishing ISBN: 9781838322724). Featuring over eighty poems from sixty poets and illustrated by the enormously talented Em Humble, the idea behind the project (beyond promoting the poets and their wonderful poems) was to raise money for the National Literacy Trust through the profit generated. After its launch and publication in November 2022, the book broke even in May 2023 and with just over 100 copies left to sell, we hope it won’t be too long before that donation can be made.
Throughout its time aloft, the Dirigible Balloon has continued to promote the talents of poets, offering a free resource to schools, teachers and families in a period of economic turmoil. We have tried to entertain and inform our young readership in a safe and accessible way with an eclectic range of work designed to provoke reflection on issues, provide enjoyment and engender a sense of fun through poetry.
As editor of the Dirigible Balloon, I can say that this work has been a labour of love which would not have been possible without the support of the p.ublished group of online newspapers set-up and the generosity of those poets who regularly submit their work and then promote the Balloon through social media, visits to schools and other outlets. One of the most rewarding aspects is the contact with people whose love of poetry shines through and whose poems the DB is enormously proud to showcase. We are also immensely grateful to the established and high profile poets who have allowed us to upload their poems which have generated an interest amongst a wider audience.
It has been a challenge to get our message across about the value of poetry in the creative and emotional development of children. The importance of nurturing a love of poems in the young is a fundamental reason why we provide an accessible platform for emerging poets. When there are limited opportunities to share your poetry with a wider audience, being an unknown poet who writes for children is something of an uphill struggle … hence the Dirigible Balloon.
The importance of nurturing a love of poems in the young is a fundamental reason why we provide an accessible platform for emerging poets
We have had some success and among the regular global submissions of work, there has been a growing interest in the US where the feedback from contributors suggests an appreciation of what we are trying to achieve. In addition, larger publishing groups have begun taking notice of the quality of poetry on the Dirigible Balloon and an increasing number of DB poets have been approached with offers of wider publication in anthologies.
In celebration of our second birthday, the Dirigible Balloon is organising a special themed flight for August 1st 2023 on the subject of ‘FLIGHT’ and a call has gone out for poems on that subject suitable for our young audience.
cq[Who knows what wonderful ideas our poets will come up with? At the Dirigible Balloon, we are excited to find out.]