Local poet Tony Peek is hosting Hastings’ very first Poetry Party for children aged 4-8 at Café des Arts, 28 Robertson Street, Hastings on May 28, 10am.
Former teacher Tony, who runs Mr Peek Poetry workshops in schools across the county, says a party is the perfect way to introduce children to the joys of poetry. “There’ll be fun games, competitions, readings, prizes and lots more,” he said.
“I’ve always loved reading poems to my kids and I think that’s where adults and children can meet in imaginary worlds and go on incredible journeys together.
“Reading aloud poems that makes you laugh or smile is the first step towards a genuine and deep affection for language.”
Tony, 50, who lives in Hastings, had been working as an English teacher in a Sussex secondary school when he was invited to his seven year old son’s school to hold a poetry workshop. “I’ve been writing poems myself since I was six years old, ever since a local poet visited my primary school and read a poem about an enchanted scary wood. That poem stayed with me forever! When I went into my son’s school in Brede, the reaction from the kids was so moving, I got really emotional after I left the workshop. I realised this was something I had to do.”
Tony says fortunately his wife Amberley, a part-time project manager for a charity, was supportive of his choice to leave full-time employment so he could launch Mr Peek’s Poetry workshops.
“It was a big decision,” he said. “After all, our children are just three, five, seven and eight so we knew Amberley would be the main breadwinner for a while. But I’ve never looked back.”
Tony has now collated some of his most popular poems into a book, Bits & Bobs. Illustrated by his own children, Tony has bought together a collection of his most popular, funny, creative and silly rhymes for kids of all ages. Often compared to Spike Milligan for his direct and nonsense poetry style, Bits & Bobs is a delightful romp through a world of ghosts, anacondas, dormice, dinosaurs and nits. Published by Borrowed Books it costs £6.99
Tony says he is inspired every day by the children he meets and their love of words and language. “To watch them laugh and giggle and come to life when I read my poems is priceless. I think poetry opens up our imaginations, encourages reading and gives children access to a universe of books for life. Poems can make you happy when you’re sad or give you a different understanding of the world. If you love poetry, it’s a gift you’ll have forever.”