Respect is Fatal, Isn’t It?

Michael Rosen 1946-

Michael Rosen
Born: 7 May 1946, Harrow, UK
Nationality: English

Rosen is a children’s author and poet; he has written over 140 books. He was the Children’s Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009. He has also worked as a political columnist and TV presenter. He was born into a Jewish family with roots in Poland, Russia, and Romania and family connections to the Arbeter Ring and the Bund. His middle name is honour of Wayne C Booth who was billeted with his father at the US army university in Shrivenham Oxfordshire.

Rosen’s father was born in Massachusetts, and from two years old grew up in the East End of London. His father was a professor of English at the Institute of Education in London and published extensively on the teaching of English to children.

Rosen’s parents met in 1935 at the age of 15 when both were members of the Young Communist League. As a young couple, they settled in Pinner, Middlesex, England. They eventually left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1957. Rosen never joined; however, it is this background that influenced his childhood. At about eleven years old Rosen began attending Harrow Weald County Grammar School. He also attended the state schools in Pinner and Harrow and Watford Grammar School for Boys. By this time Rosen’s mother was working for the BBC, producing a programme that featured poetry, she encouraged Rosen to write for it and some of his writing was submitted.

Rosen graduated from Oxford in 1969 and became a trainee at the BBC. His work included WALRUS (write and learn, read, understand, speak), a series for BBC Schools television, and scriptwriting for a children’s reading series Sam on Boffs’ Island. He found working for the BBC frustrating and limiting to his creativity.

Rosen made no secret of his left-wing politics when originally interviewed for a post with the BBC, however in 1972 he was asked to go freelance, effectively being sacked along with several others that failed the BBC’s vetting procedures at the time. A practice only revealed in 1985 and when Rosen asked to access his files, they had been destroyed.

“Mind Your Own Business,” Rosen’s first book of children’s poetry was published in 1974. He established himself with subsequent collections of humorous verse for children such as “Wouldn’t You Like to Know,” “You Tell Me,” and “Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here.”

Rosen was influential in opening access to poetry for children, through his own work and with anthologies such as “Culture Shock.” One of the first poets to visit schools throughout the UK, Australia, and Canada his tours enthused and engaged children about poetry in our times. Rosen gained an MA in Children’s Literature in 1993 from the University of Reading, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of North London.

A well-established broadcaster, presenting a wide range of documentary features on British radio, Rosen is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth, a regular magazine programme looking at the English language and how it is used. He was given the Exceptional Award for the Best Children’s Illustrated Nooks by the English Association in 2004 for “Sad Book”. It deals with bereavement and follows “Carrying the Elephant: A Memoir of Love and Loss” (2002) after the death of his son Eddied aged 18.

Rosen collaborated with his wife, Emma Williams, in 2011 to produce the film “Under the Crates” with Rosen providing the original screenplay. It premiered at the Rio Cinema in Dalston, London in April 2011 as part of the East End Film Festival

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Rosen was admitted to hospital in March 2020. He was moved to the ICU and back to the ward. He was again moved to ICU and after 47 days he returned to the ward, finally leaving the hospital in June 2020. In the following March Rosen released the book “Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death, and the NHS” telling his story of being hospitalized with Covid-19 the previous year.

The News by Michael Rosen

Here is The News:
‘Two incredible shoes.
Two incredible shoes.
That’s The News.

When it rains
they walk down drains.

They glow
in the snow.

They grizzle
in a drizzle.

They sneeze
in a breeze.

They get warm
in a storm.

They go soggy
when it’s foggy.

They’ve even hissed
in a mist.

(sad to say)
there came a terrible frost.
This is what happened:
they got lost.’

This is The News.
Two incredible shoes.
Two incredible shoes.
That was The News.

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