Poetry for Teens – Nigel Tetley – When Bees Flew in for Breakfast

Do you love poems/ poetry?

Oxford Languages defines poetry as…

literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature.

It’s a pretty broad term and for me I feel that if you don’t already love poetry you just haven’t found the type of poetry you like yet.

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Poetry for You

Heavy classics are not really my cup of tea and I’ve often found myself more drawn to poetry that is concerned with the seasons and nature. I also enjoy the rhythm of rhyming poetry especially.

Often I find that there are more collections of poems for children of around primary age and for adults and have had very little exposure to poetry written for secondary age children – teenagers.

Poetry Recommendations

If you’re looking for more poetry recommendations then head to A Poem a Day posts below:

When Bees Flew in for Breakfast Book Tour

Jade at The Book Network said they were looking for book reviewers to be part of an upcoming book tour for When Bees Flew in for Breakfast the sub heading caught my attention.

When Bees Flew in for Breakfast – Forty original poems for teenage readers is a collection of work from Nigel Tetley. Nigel is a qualified Religious Studies teacher who began writing children’s poetry back in 2001.

I was thrilled to be accepted onto the book tour. Do check out my fellow bookstagrammers’ thoughts on the tour. You can find their handles in the image above.

Poetry for Teenage Kids

Knowing that Nigel would be sending his book of poems to me it got me thinking on what poetry for teenagers looks like or should look like. What kind of poetry would my teenage self have enjoyed? What makes it different to other children’s poetry and poetry for adults? Is it more like a film rating and it’s more related to content? I couldn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Poetry usually comes as a collection of poems from one person or a curated anthology of poems from various individuals. With any poetry book I don’t expect to love every single poem but very much hope that at least 50% will sing to my soul to feel that it’s a poetry book for me.

Poetry Habit

I’m also a real mood reader and therefore a variety is perfect to be able to tantalise my tastebuds! At the beginning of 2022 I decided that I would read at least one piece of poetry every day. It’s a wonderful habit and one that I would really encourage you to enjoy too.

If you’re a teacher, could you read a poem ever day to your class?

Dipping In and Favourites

Dipping in and out of a poetry book is my preferred way to read poems unless I’m in need of a poetry binge. When Bees Flew in for Breakfast has a brilliant variety of poems from short to lengthy, comical to all consuming. I was surprised to find that Nigel had me enjoying a lot more that my 50% with some poems really speaking to me.

There’s been poems I’ve just had to share out loud with others such as IV: The Ballad of the Raspberry Crush – oh poor raspberry, I’m sure every teenager on the planet can relate to dear raspberry and her unrequited love and feel the depth of her pain.

A Year and a Day, VII: Strawberry Coup and Colour Contest were poems my five year old daughter particularly loved and we’ve shared together multiple times.

Although a collection designed for 11-16 year olds I’d say it has a wider appeal. Many of the poems are suitable for a younger audience and can be picked out to share. Others would certainly appeal to 16+. It’s a cluster of poems that I very much enjoy. There’s certainly more than my expected 50% and I continue to return to the collection over and over.

Making Poetry for Teenage Kids

Having now read When Bees Flew in for Breakfast and comparing it to other poems I’ve read designed for different ages I’d say that the ‘age’ for particular poetry is often irrelevant. Yes, content suitability is important but often most poetry can span the ages.

Where I feel this book fits in perfectly for the 11-16 bracket is through the parallels of life seen through the eyes of teens and the seemingly unconnected, but oh so connected words and situations of the poetry. The writing is sensitive, yet witty, deep although light-hearted.

Poetry Exploring Big Themes

You get the feel through the poems that Nigel is a qualified Religious Studies teacher. This isn’t because the poems are religious in nature but due to the bigger questions of life posed or hinted at through his words.

My brother lives with us and is studying Philosophy at A-Level and therefore our home is often filled with philosophical debate and questioning. It’s this aspect of When Bees Flew in for Breakfast that I feel calls to the teenager or the teenage self in all of us. The questioning, the consideration of the wider and bigger.

Often our teenage years are when these thoughts come to us and when we have the time to let them ruminate around in our heads, to ponder and mull. Nigel’s collection helps to pose some of the questions and certainly makes excellent food for thought, discussion and debate.

Top Recommendation

When Bees Flew in for Breakfast is a firm favourite from me and I would recommend it as a text for secondary schools. It would make for an excellent book to have ready during tutor time. Maybe get into the habit of a poem a day.

More Information and How To Buy

If you’d like to find out more about the author Nigel then head to his website here. To order a copy of When Bees Flew in for Breakfast click here. Thank you to Jade at The Book Network and Nigel Tetley for having us on the book tour for When Bees Flew in for Breakfast.

It’s a Funny Old World

It’s a Funny Old World is Nigel’s latest collection of twenty poems written for young teens. As before I would say even though written for teenagers they are very universal in appeal and each collection gives a great breadth. I often find with poetry that you very much gel with a poet and that’s certainly happened for us with Nigel.

One thing I particularly love is that a lot of his poetry is intertwined with the natural world and frequently weather. His work really shows the symbiotic relationship between our feelings and our emotive British weather.

He writes in a way that leaves your mind pondering, he validates and lets you know that your feelings are real. Something I think would very much appeal to an 11+ audience. The poem ‘Once’ is a great example of this.

I’ve got several favourites from this book especially The Chasm – that final line feels so heavy and deep. The Thief and Uninvited Guest are poems I’ve read repeatedly too. My daughter who’s almost 6 really enjoyed The Sun as did I. Such a wonderful curated selection again Nigel – well done – I eagerly anticipate what comes next.

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