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Angela Topping
Angela Topping

All About Angela Topping

Angela is a poet. A qualified teacher who worked in secondary school English, she has been a published author since her first collection came out in 1988. She writes for both children and adults. Her poems have appeared in over fifty poetry anthologies for children and she was the only poet to be awarded a prize in the High Sherriff’s Children’s Literature 2012 competition, for her poem ‘Maggoty Johnson’. Angela is experienced as a poet in schools in both primary and secondary schools and enjoys the variety of age groups. She is skilled in using drama, can demonstrate how to create small books and teaches techniques on how to improve the children’s work.

Her poem ‘An Athlete’s Dream: A Modern Myth’ was quoted on 2011’s National Poetry Day postcards and a further quotation was displayed in the Olympic Stadium in 2012. Angela’s work has appeared on the Standards website, the Oxfam website, has been used by OUP, The Open University and The Samaritans. One poem is included in the AQA anthology for English Language and Literature A level students, Food Glorious Food. She was one of the adjudicators of AQA’s first creative writing competition in 2011. Angela has also exhibited her poems alongside artwork by textile artist Maria Walker.
In her own poems, she often likes to mix fantasy and reality, as she does in her well-known poem ‘Witch in the Supermarket’. She also draws on her experience of parenthood, school and knowledge of myths and legends. She firmly believes children deserve the very best and always aims to stretch pupils and to enthuse children with a love of reading and writing.
Angela is based in Cheshire but travels the length and breadth of the land performing her poetry and leading workshops. She completed a six week residency in Denbigh in 2012, where she visited a school one day a week to carry out a transition project with years 3 & 4, in which the children created a book of short stories.

Angela’s School Visits

Angela will work with any age group. For nursery, reception and year 1, short sessions are recommended, which are primarily interactive readings. Year 2 and 3 can cope with longer sessions, including some design work, drama and writing poems together.

From year 4 up to year 6, Angela will offer techniques to improve children’s own writing, poetry games to stimulate imaginations, alongside a short reading. She has carried out many placements for Able Writers, from Newcastle upon Tyne to Folkestone. She also offers pre-Sats booster days, particularly on persuasive writing (through poetry).

Angela has also visited many secondary schools, sometimes working with year 6 pupils who are coming up to the secondary shortly, for example Headlands School, Bridlington, where Angela focused the day on Alice in Wonderland, at the school’s request. She is happy to perform in assemblies or give readings to a year group, as she did in Woodchurch High School, Wirral, but is equally at home in the school library for shorter sessions, for example at Wenlock Poetry Festival, Worcester schools, Upton Hall and many others.

For Key Stage 3: Angela can deliver writing workshops, readings and Q&A sessions.
For Key Stage 4: Angela can offer workshops in reading and writing poetry, to prepare for GCSE’s. She co-edited three textbooks for OUP on how to study poetry at this level and her own poetry has been set for examinations and coursework study. Angela is also comfortable with sixth form and is a senior moderator for a leading examination board at A level. She is happy to discuss her set poems or lead workshops on aspects of creative writing coursework at A level. Angela’s poems are also studied on Creative Writing degrees and by the Open University on their poetry course.
Angela is willing to discuss what a school would like to gain from the visit and tailor her work accordingly. She plans meticulously and is skilled at using ICT in the classroom as an aid. Any visit from Angela will enthuse pupils and sharpen their writing skills.
If there is an interactive whiteboard, Angela will use it. A flipchart is also helpful. A school lunch is appreciated and plenty of cups of tea. She can bring her own laptop, if required, or carry resources on a flash drive. She prefers to complete a whole day at school, though half days are possible if not too far from home. Short residencies are welcomed as these allow more time for drama and book-making.
A typical day would begin with a short introductory reading from Angela and some warm-up games for the pupils, including ice-breakers. After that, Angela likes to get to grips with writing poems, aiming to take pupils’ skills to a new level while having fun. A favourite exercise is to take the pupils outside to work on imagery, following a discussion of poems which use it well. Pupils can expect to have up to four new poems by the end of the day, in addition to a group poem which Angela likes to post on her blog. This activity teaches structure and drafting, as well as collaborative work.

Alternatively, Angela has run different workshops with different classes throughout a days work, starting with a reading in assembly if required. Angela provides a free teaching pack on her book The New Generation, as a gift to every school who books her.

Angela’s Books

The New generation

The New Generation (Salt 2010)

Vampires, witches, fairies, wizards and mermaids: meet them all here in Angela Topping’s poems. She shares her wicked sense of humour about school and celebrates festivals, families and nature in this delightful collection of much anthologised poems now brought together for the first time. These poems have been enjoyed by children of all ages the length and breadth of the country in a variety of venues including schools, libraries and festivals. Enter Topping’s zany world of magic and mystery, where teenage wizards wear doc martens and your auntie is a vampire. You will never want to leave. Angela’s first solo collection especially for children includes many of the poems which first appeared in anthologies such as 101 Favourite Poems edited by John Foster, The Walrus and The Carpenter, an anthology of poems chosen by celebrities for The Children’s Trust (Angela’s poem was chosen by Helen Skelton) and several of The Works, edited by Paul Cookson.

Kids’ Stuff (Erbacce 2011)

This is Angela’s second book of poetry for children. Angela is known for her lively performances and the delight she takes in working with young people travelling round the country as a poet-in-schools. The title poem expresses Angela’s childlike qualities. For her fun is ‘kids’ stuff but I still like it’. She sees magic everywhere she goes, believes in fairies and loves reading children’s books.

Samples of Angela’s Poetry

Kids’ Stuff

Hanging round parks for a go on the swings
your palms smelling of metal off the roundabout
The iron grip of the slide as you launch yourself
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it.

Dipping your fingers in sherbet and licking
Sticking your tongue into your ice cream
Strengthening your suck on a chocolate milk shake
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it

Playing follow-my-leader when no one can see
Tidying your dollshouse and making them speak
Cuddling your teddy when you can’t get to sleep
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it

Reading Narnia books and travelling with Hobbits
Watching E. Nesbit’s books on the box
Curling up in a chair with a book and some chocolate
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it

Making shapes with your bread dough and watching it rise
Making gingerbread men with currants for eyes
Putting smarties on top of little iced cakes
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it

Going to the pictures to watch Walt Disney
Getting sticky fingers from eating popcorn
Sucking an ice-lolly through the second half
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it

People try and tell you ought to grow up
My kids don’t mind having a daft mum
I don’t see why I should stop having fun
It’s kids’ stuff but I still like it.

Reviews and Recommendations

“Angela really engaged and enthused our students, not only by sharing her work with them but by also making them know that their contributions were both valid and appreciated. The pupils listened carefully so that they could respond, but it was as if they had known Angela for years; they were so at ease with her. They had a fantastic time and we were inundated with poems from all faculty areas on the Thursday (National Poetry Day). We were seriously impressed by some of the vocabulary and ideas generated when they produced Kennings in the workshop. Definitely to be recommended, especially if you want to enhance your curriculum and give your students a fun, fresh approach to poetry.” Jo West, Woodchurch High School, Wirral

‘Every girl and boy enjoyed the poetry workshop with Angela. From Kennings to collaborative poetry, we were all given the opportunity to write and explore our own thoughts and feelings. Each child recited at least one poem to the group and they were all well received and appreciated.My girls were desperate to share what they had learned with the rest of the class. Even I was motivated to write possibly the best comparative, descriptive verses I have ever done! Thank you’. Wayne Rhodes, Year 6 class teacher (Tunbridge Wells)

‘Angela Topping is well known for her adult collections such as The Fiddle, I Sing of Bricks, and The Way We Came. She has also, however, made a big splash in the world of children’s poetry with her recently published The New Generation. I had the pleasure of watching her perform a variety of these poems to children (aged 11-14) in two local secondary schools. Her performances are interactive, entertaining, educational and full of nuggets of poetic brilliance and inspiration for the poets of tomorrow. She has a lovely way with students and they warmed to her personable manner. Watching her perform was a wonderful demonstration of what can be achieved when a skilled poet, with a warm personality, meets with students.’ Paul Hughes, Assistant Headteacher in Reading

‘AS English Lang/Lit students were in for a real treat on Friday 27th November as external speaker Angela Topping came in to deliver a workshop on writing monologues.  Angela is the author of an impressive range of published texts, including her own original poetry and critical material on literary texts, as well as being an experienced teacher and A Level examiner. Using her skills as a writer, Angela inspired students to create voices for their monologue characters which will be used in their coursework.’ Helen Chappell, Riverside Sixth Form College

‘It was a pleasure to experience your work and way of being with the children. The way you directed the energy of the more active and vocal children was lovely….warm and skilful…and left them very proud of their achievements. I could see how much respect you gave them as ‘people’ and it showed in their responses/responsiveness.’ Patricia O’Grady, Wenlock Summer Poetry Club

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Angela Topping, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk