On the Move


Michael Rosen’s poems about migration begin with narratives of his own family, from his parents and grandparents, to his cousin Michael. He was put on a train as a teenager, sent to safety by his parents, and never seen again. Thereafter, his cousin Martin was betrayed and sent to the camps, while Oscar and Rachel, seeking safety in Nice, were captured by the Gestapo. All of these members of Michael’s family were migrants.

His poems remind us of England’s migrant history, from the construction of our English literature, up until present day, as we seek refuge in Spain, away from ‘the immigrants’. Thereafter, we consider what migrants have brought to Britain, their histories and sacrifice, the silent indifference.

On the Move  is a stunning collection of poetry. These poems are compassionate, informative, contemporary and vital. Throughout them weave Quentin Blake’s evocative pen and ink drawings.


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On the Move

Poems About Migration

Michael Rosen, with drawings by Quentin Blake

(Walker)– hardback

It seems that humans have always been On the Move. Michael Rosen’s Poems About Migration are personal, retelling stories of his family’s migration. This is a subject he entered with his biography, The Missing.
Thereafter, he leads us into the minds and feelings of contemporary migrants, who:- ‘might suddenly find ourselves/ in a wrong place at a wrong time// – needing to get out,/ move, find a safe place.’
We consider the passage, from times past to current times-  ”Ships that they once knew. Ships they talk and talk about.’ Thereafter, we ‘keep the water out./ Don’t drown./ Call for help/ Don’t drown’.
Michael Rosen reminds us of the anomaly of  ‘this place used to be like a village./ It’s full of foreigners’- ‘I’m going// Where?-/ Spain’. And then about the migrants who form what we know of and take pride in English Literature.
On the Move is a history, a narrative, biography, contemplation and declaration. Throughout Quentin Blake’s pen and wash drawings ‘are never static, butmove us. They are sparse, dense and brilliant. On the Move is a reminder of Michael Rosen’s storytelling, compassion and skill. This is an outstanding book of poetry.

CLiPPA poetry winner, 2021


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