Jonathan Humble, Features Writer

The Balloon Goes Up: Adventures In Children’s Poetry

I stagger to the counter, an armful of book packages clutched to my chest.

Hello!” I say through the perspex slot, “It’s me again.”

Mrs Goggins in the post office leaps into action and five minutes of weighing, printing and sticking begins as postcodes and zip codes are checked. While the growing queue behind me peppers the back of my neck with darts and daggers from impatient eyes, my right ear warms considerably.

The process completed, the postage paid, I smile weakly and leave with a “see you in a couple of days …”

So here I am, sending 60 contributor copies around the world and organizing the launch of a poetry book with no experience of the process but with an enthusiastic and ethical partner in the Yorkshire Times and a desire to help out the National Literacy Trust with a donation from the proceedings.

Chasing Clouds - Adventures in a Poetry Balloon is printed and published: a collection of brilliant poems for children chosen from the first year of uploads to the Dirigible Balloon website and written by poets from the UK, the US and Europe. In my opinion, it is an excellent first publication from Yorkshire Times Publishing.

Image by Em Humble
Image by Em Humble
Sprung from a desire to promote poetry written for children and the idea that writers of this poetry deserve greater options and opportunities to publish, the project started in August 2021 with the setting up of an online free-to-view poetry bank showcasing work from around the world called the Dirigible Balloon. The publication of a new anthology of poems, marvellous in their quality, diverse in the experience of its poets and illustrated by (if I do say so myself) a wonderful artist, is a work of love, art and talent.

Library readings for children will begin at Kendal on November 12th, schools will be visited in the South Lakes where the editor lives and a Zoom launch on November 20th, featuring over two dozen of the contributing poets, will signal the Balloon’s official take-off when members of the public will be able to order a copy from the Dirigible Balloon website, just in time for the Christmas rush.

In addition, BBC Radio Cumbria and Cumbria Life are very kindly including a further opportunity to spread the news, as the adventure continues and the anthology of over 80 poems by 60 poets takes to the air, chasing clouds as every good hot air balloon should.