Good with Children and Dogs – Jan Dean an itinerant poet.


Jan Dean playing with wordsJan Dean is by her own admission an ‘itinerant poet, good with children and dogs’. She says that,

‘Being a poet isn’t a job. It’s who you are. It’s to do with a way of seeing the world – mainly about seeing connections between things and then having an irresistible urge to recreate that connection in words.’

We are big fans of Jan’s poems and recently, whist reading an excellent blog by Nihal Yildirim on stifling student creativity, I remembered ‘Writing’. In the poem a young boy/girl writes freely about a grizzly event that occurred in the kitchen. The teacher completely overlooks the content and instead focuses on the poor spelling and inappropiate length of the writing, probably something we teachers have all been guilty of at one time or another.

and then I saw it
saw it all    all the mess
and blood and evrythink
and mam agenst the kichin dor
the flor all stiky
and the wall all wet
and red an dad besid the kitchin draw
i saw it saw it all
an wrot it down an ever word of it is tru

You must take care to write in sentences,
Check your spellings and your paragraphs.
Is this finished? It is rather short.
Perhaps next time you will have more to say.

Do visit Jan’s fantastic Poetry Zoo and call in on Nihal Yildirim’s inspirational blog

And many thanks to Jan for giving us permission to use her poem. As she says, ‘A poem is a place where you meet the poet and look at the world from the same window.’


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
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6 Responses to Good with Children and Dogs – Jan Dean an itinerant poet.

  1. jan Dean says:

    It’s great to have my poem on your blog and thank you for the signpost to Nihal Yildirim’s piece. I think the best teachers always feel this terrific tension between English as an art form and English as a transactional tool, but if language can’t be used to say what really matters to you – whether it’s the longing of your heart for peace or the longing of your throat for a cold beer – it’s not a lot of use. So best of luck with treading the tightrope between passion and accuracy. It’s all experimental. Bon voyage!

    • ..and thanks again, Jan for letting us use your poem – as I said we’re big fans and we’re doing a talk in February based around the rhythm of poetry, stories and the metaphorical rhythm of life – we’re going to call it ‘Built in Bounce’..quoting you….

  2. Great post, and powerful writing by Jan. I liked what she says ‘Being a poet isn’t a job, it’s who you are. Same goes for teachers too of course 🙂 I agree with Jan in reference to the tension between ‘English as an art form and as a transactional tool’ from the teachers’ perspectives but I would add that strain also has to do with political tinkering with classroom learning, consequently reducing writing to mechanistic issues of spelling, punctuation and the like – evidenced by hideous testing measures we see in schools in the UK (and no doubt in many other countries). It’s the politicians’ obsession with measuring progress in schools in order to fuel their own propoganda of dubious success, that stifles creativity in classroom that Nihal refers to. Teachers walk a fine tightrope at all times between the tensions of their learners needs, intitutional and political interests, and so on and so on.

    Poetry is a fine thing to engage people of all ages, both inside and outside classrooms and that’s why this blog is such a great read – thanks for continuing with the inspiration Henry Brothers.

  3. Ann says:

    Read the recent posts. Enjoyable as always, especially the nonsense rhyme.

  4. thanks Ann – can’t remember where we first herd that poem….or is it heard?!

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