Nasen, which benefits from sales of this book, is the leading UK professional organisation dealing with special educational needs, and the nasen Inclusive Poetry Competition was established to allow young people to express their feelings on inclusion. Several of the competition winners feature in this collection, compiled by Roger Stevens – a poet, writer, musician and artist whose award-winning website www.poetryzone.co.uk provides a forum for young people to publish their poetry online.
Does Your Face Fit combines the work of some of the best-known adult poets in the UK writing for children today with winners of the nasen competition, as well as poems from young contributors to the poetryzone website. There are no author bios so a bit of research is required to establish author identities, and the young contributors’ work stands up strongly to that of the professionals.
One of the most memorable poems is Respect – a marvellously upbeat rap by teenager Lewis Armour, one of the nasen prizewinners. The collection is divided into three sections: Love and Friendship, Work and Play, and The Meaning of Life. The umbrella theme of exclusion/inclusion covers the full spectrum of teenage concerns, from spots and crushes to bereavement, isolation and alcoholism. Far from being an angst-overload, the collection is well-balanced and self-aware – acknowledging the real traumas of the teenage years while also recognizing the adolescent tendency to over-dramatize. The slim format and roomy lay-out is user-friendly, and will not intimidate newcomers to poetry. This collection could also be a good introduction to the poetryzone website for teens keen on publishing their own poetry online.