'very warm, very inviting, very mysterious poetry. Chrissie has a very tender sight,'
'an important, imaginative, totally original contribution to modern poetry,'
'She is a gifted writer,'
'Chrissie Gittins knows just what words can do: she makes them dance, sing, sit still for a moment and then leap across the page with joy!'
'a lot of ripe good ones,'
'A striking play ... deftly written,'
Kate Kellaway, The Observer
'most of (her stories) carry an insidiously discomforting charge,'
Nicholas Clee, The Guardian
'For gentle but often surreal language, little people should sit cross-legged on the carpet with a copy of Chrissie Gittins's latest poetry collection,'
Helen Brown, The Telegraph
‘a true original … she has a genuine gift,’
Jane Yeh, Poetry Review
|‘a wonderful collection,’
|‘a voice refusing to be pinned down,’
|‘a great sense of humour, an ear for what life sounds like,’
|‘weird, interesting and humorous poems that will bear repeated visits,’
Roger Stevens, Poetry Zone website|
|‘a McGough-like flair for idiomatic surrealism,’
Michael Thorn, TES
|‘I very much enjoyed reading your collection of children’s poetry,’
|‘I thought you read beautifully'
Michael Stewart, Director Huddersfield Literature Festival.
Chrissie Gittins was born in Lancashire and lives in Forest Hill in South London. She studied at Newcastle University and St Martin’s School of Art, and worked as an artist and a teacher before becoming a freelance poet/writer. She writes poetry, radio drama, short stories, and poetry for children.
Her adult poetry collections are Armature (Arc, 2003) and I'll Dress One Night As You (Salt, 2009). Her most recent pamphlet collection is Professor Heger's Daughter (Paekakriki Press, 2013). She has read her adult poems at venues including the StAnza, Ledbury and Aldeburgh Poetry Festivals, Wordplay Shetland, the Royal Festival Hall and Cornelia Street Café in New York.
Her children’s poetry collections are Now You See Me, Now You... (Rabbit Hole, 2002) I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle (Rabbit Hole, 2006), The Humpback’s Wail (Rabbit Hole, 2010), Stars in Jars (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Adder, Bluebell, Lobster (Otter-Barry Books, 2016). Both her first two children’s collections were shortlisted for the CLPE Award and three are Poetry Book Society Choices for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf. Her children’s poems have been animated for Cbeebies TV and are widely anthologized. She has read her children’s poems at the Edinburgh, Hay, West Cork, Wigtown and Ilkley festivals, at the StAnza, Ledbury and Wenlock poetry festivals, and at the Poets House in New York.
'Stars in Jars' classroom door at Dwight School, London, March 2017.
Chrissie reads her children’s poetry here on the Poetry Archive:
In 2005 Chrissie was awarded an Arts Council Grant for the Arts to complete her short story collection Family Connections. Her second collection Between Here and Knitwear (Unthank Book, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 Saboteur Awards; it was also chosen by Helen Dunmore as one of her top 2 collections of 2015, and has received 15 appreciative reviews including reviews in The Sunday Times and the Times Literary Supplement. Chrissie has read her stories at Manchester Central Library, at Newcastle and Salford Universities, the Poetry Society, Clitheroe Castle, Brixton Book Jam and on BBC Radio Four. Her radio plays, which include Starved for Love, Life Assurance and Dinner in the Iguanodon, have starred Patricia Routledge, Jan Ravens and Sorcha Cusack.
Chrissie visits schools and libraries giving readings and workshops; she has held residencies at the Refugee Council, Belmarsh Prison, Maidstone Borough Council and at 12 Southwark primary schools. In 2010 and 2013 she was Writer-in-Residence on the Shetland Islands. In 2016 Chrissie received a major Society of Authors’ Authors’ Foundation Award to travel in India for the month of November. She is a Hawthornden International Fellow and is included in the British Council Contemporary Writers database which ‘contains profiles of some of the UK and Commonwealth’s most important living writers’. www.literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/chrissie-gittins
Two page biography, February 2017: Biography (pdf)
Interview with Chrissie on James Nash's website for the April 2011 podcast www.jamesnash.co.uk/podcast
Chrissie is the showcase writer for May 2011 on The Literary Consultancy website www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk/talent/showcase
Between Here and Knitwear
(Unthank Books, 2015)
These twenty-two cleverly linked stories, written over two decades, trace a life from childhood to middle age. Beginning in Lancashire in the ‘60s and ‘70s, they follow a young girl as she becomes aware of what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a lover and a woman.
Adder, Bluebell, Lobster
(Otter-Barry Books, 2016)
'Chrissie Gittins' poems are imaginative snapshots taken with a quirky edge that appeals to children. She crafts the language and surprises the reader; many of the poems would act as creative catalysts for children's own writing. She is one of the best 'children's poets' currently writing and visiting schools.'
Professor Heger's Daughter
(Paekakriki Press, 2013)
Her poems have been broadcast on BBC R4 and the World Service, and published in The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, Quadrant (Australia), Mslexia, The SHOp and Magma.
Chrissie's short stories have featured in BBC R4's afternoon reading slot, and her plays have been produced as afternoon and Saturday plays, including Starved for Love, Life Assurance and Dinner in the Iguanodon.
If you’d like to contact Chrissie or discuss bookings for readings or workshops please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on current bookings please see the dates page
With Children and Young People
Chrissie has worked with children and young people for the Poetry Society, Apples and Snakes, NAWE, LONSAS, NCLL and the Arvon Foundation; her residencies have included prisons, a hospice, and an international school in Bangkok. She completed a Poetry Society Poetry Place at the Refugee Council in 1999 and was Writer-in-Residence with Maidstone Borough Council 2000/1. Chrissie was Poet-in-Residence with twelve primary schools in Southwark 2002/3 and she was Poet-in-Residence with Croydon Libraries 2003/4. In 2005 Chrissie toured ten isolated primary and secondary schools on the western seaboard of the Highlands. She is part of the Poetry Society’s poetryclass training team for teachers.
Comments from colleagues and children
St Thomas's' School, Clapham
October 1st, 2018
'We have been lucky to start our poetry festival this year with Chrissie Gittins who is a wonderful ambassador for National Poetry Day. She read some of her poetry to the children from different books. There was laughter and and everyone was inspired. The children afterwards remembered these poems and wanted to read them themselves. We teachers found the workshops very successful, It was amazing to see how every child was engaged in their own poetry writing , especially some of the more reluctant ones. I think the way Chrissie starts them off is such a good introduction to poetry writing; it feels, even though the children were working hard, almost effort less.'
Franziska Rowley, Librarian
Dwight School, London,
March 2nd 2017
'Dwight School London very much enjoyed World Book Day with special guest of honour - children's poet and author Chrissie Gittins. Children and staff were wholly engaged listening to her read from her poetry books and were animated when joining in with actions and phrases. Through workshops children developed Literacy skills developing their own imaginative poems and will take her inspiration and knowledge of poetry into their classes in future learning. A fantastic experience with Chrissie.'
Claire Pitts, Literacy Co-ordinator
West Cork Literary Festival,
July 19th 2016
'The children were full of enthusiasm about your events.'
Sara O’Donovan, PR and Marketing
Thomas Fairchild Community School,
'The children were entirely engaged by Chrissie's workshops. The poems that they looked at in the run up to the day really sparked their imagination and they couldn't wait to emulate her style!
The teachers also loved the joy that she brought to their classrooms and it has inspired them to read and teach poetry more often.' Alana Wilson
St Leonard's Primary School, Bridgnorth, Shropshire,
April 29th 2012
'We have some very good poetry written by the children as a result of your visit.' Jean Bews, Literacy Co-ordinator
Facebook message re. Sandwick Primary School visit (Shetland Residency) from a parent,
16th September 2010
'My son, Adam, is a pupil in the class which you visited this week and last and really enjoyed having you in school. He loved your poems and I had a lovely evening with him and his older sister reading out from the book he bought. They were both particularly taken with 'World Secrets'. Thank you so much for introducing them to poetry.' Alison Millar
Ocklynge Junior School, Eastbourne, Able Writers' Day
'Chrissie Gittins is/was excellent. The children have had a great day.'
Barbara Robertson, Assistant Head, Head of Year 6 and Gifted and Talented Coordinator.
Canbury School, Kingston Hill
'It was inspirational.' A Year 8 pupil speaking to the secretary after a reading to Year 7 and 8.
The Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School, Hampton Hill,
'Thank you Chrissie for a wonderful day. Since you were here, we have festooned our corridors with poems – either poems girls wrote with you, or ones inspired by your visit, or indeed favourite poems. You were much appreciated, and it was a terrific start to Poetry Week.' Julia Dilworth
Inaugural Poetry Reading at Clitheroe Castle,
In the surrounds of Clitheroe Castle in the beautiful Ribble Valley Chrissie held an audience of 52 captive for well over an hour; not an easy task for such demanding listeners. It was a memorable evening and the feedback has been very good. A great start to our season. Jo Harding, Ribble Valley Poetry Group
NAWE Writing in Schools Research Programme Residency at Husthwaite Primary School, North Yorkshire,
You obviously worked with great sensitivity and generosity of spirit with this group and I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful efforts for and with pupils, staff, school and again the NAWE Research Project. We are very grateful to you for such clear commitment to the Residency. Liz Fincham, Project Manager
Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival, 2007
We are so pleased with the school sessions. Besides being a skilled poet you have a lovely manner with children. Linda Crossley-Holland
Feedback from three of the ten Highland schools Chrissie visited autumn 2005
The children really enjoyed your visit and were very inspired by it. The staff that worked with you that day were most impressed with the way you handled the children and how you pitched the workshop at an appropriate level, which can be difficult with a small composite class. After your visit the children enjoyed reading and listening to your poems. They now demand a poem every day! I would strongly recommend your workshop to colleagues. Many thanks for coming this far north.
Graham Bruce, Head Teacher Durness Primary School
Thanks again for coming to spend a day with us at Kyleakin Primary. The children really enjoyed themselves and learned a lot too. Here is some of the feedback straight from the kids …
We are enjoying your book. Please come back and see us anytime. Jane Fairley and P1-4, Kyleakin Primary School.
- Thank you very much!
- It was great fun!
- The poems we really enjoyed were ‘Government Health Warning’ (particularly the jelly – Danny), the one about the high chair, the hamster, Sam Sam, and Now You See Me.
- They made us giggle.
- We enjoyed writing the poems too. They were interesting and really made us think.
- We liked reading the poems out too at the end.
- Danny felt that he got sore knees sitting for a long time!
(to the Highland Council) I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our visit from Chrissie Gittins last Thursday. The work with the children was very well planned and paced and kept all the stages of children (P3 -7) enthusiastic and involved. It gives the children a taste of wider possibilities when they meet a “real” person who has actually published work, whether prose or poetry. Chrissie Gittins guided the children to produce their own excellent poems, and was a source of new ideas to me as their teacher. I do feel that, particularly for the very small schools, such occasional infusions of fresh ideas and approaches are extremely valuable. Even the most enthusiastic teacher becomes a little jaded after teaching the same children for seven years! Thank you for making this visit a possibility. I do hope it can be repeated at some point. Catriona McCowan, Head Teacher Applecross Primary School.
Arvon residential course with Hayes School Sixth Form at Totleigh Barton, Devon
‘I love listening to Chrissie Gittins read her poems. Her soft Lancashire voice is the perfect vehicle for the vivid imagery of her poems. We’ve used her at Arvon as tutor and guest, and her readings are always mesmerising.’ Ian Marchant, Centre Director, Arvon Foundation, Totleigh Barton.
‘The poetry sessions were superbly put together.’ John Budden, Head of English, Hayes Comprehensive School, Kent.
Launch of Now You See Me, Now You … at Ottakar’s, Bromley
‘one of the best events we’ve ever held,’ Stephanie Bryant, children’s buyer.
Visit to Glenfall Primary School, Cheltenham
‘The children have been talking to me with affection about the afternoon Chrissie spent with us. They are quite discerning in their evaluation of the quality of their experiences. I have yet to hear a negative comment from them – they thoroughly enjoyed the way Chrissie brought her poetry, which appealed greatly, to life. Teachers were also quick to praise the quality of her poetry and presentation and have worked with their classes to produce a wealth of poems in the ‘Chrissie Gittins’ style.’ Anthony Sutcliffe, Headteacher
Arvon residential course at The Hurst, Shropshire
‘The balance of exercises to inspire poetry worked extremely well and as the week went on the girls began to see the transformative effect of sensitive tutorials and constructive criticism.’ Katie Adam, Cheltenham Ladies' College
Visit to Marjorie McClure School, Chislehurst
‘I would like to keep in touch with you, as finding someone who can tap into our pupils’ huge range of ability and needs so readily, and with obvious enjoyment, is rare.’ Sheila Batchelor and all the pupils who participated in your lively workshops
If you’d like to book Chrissie for readings, talks or workshops please email email@example.com. For information about current readings please see the Dates page
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