The Kids

Hannah Lowe


Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are ‘The Kids’, her students, the teenagers she nurtured. 

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ISBN: 9781780375793 Category: Tag:


Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are fictionalised portraits of ‘The Kids’, the students she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London.

Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race – and their fundamental intersection with education – are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. These boisterous and musical poems explore the universal experience of what it is to be taught, to learn and to teach.

‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids is a book to fall in love with – it’s joyous, it’s warm and it’s completely universal. It’s crafted and skilful but also accessible… You will love it!’ – Reeta Chakrabarti, Chair of Judges, 2021 Costa Book of the Year

The Kids is the real deal. A page turner about the experience of teaching and being taught, it made us want to punch the air with joy… A contemporary book that buzzes with life while re-energising the sonnet that Shakespeare would recognise. All readers will find something of themselves here.’ –  Costa Poetry Award Judges Rishi Dastidar, Ian Duhig and Maya Jaggi

‘Hannah Lowe’s brilliant and entertaining book of sonnets, The Kids, is one of the most humorous and tender collections of recent times.’  – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times (The year in verse: the best poetry of 2021)

‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids, inspired by her time teaching in an inner London sixth form, is a series of sonnets full of joy. The book is generous in its compassion, and in love with the idea of learning, in the classroom and outside it.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian (Best poetry books of 2021)

The Kids by Hannah Lowe. This book reads very much like a labour of love. Anyone who commits to writing, and asks the reader to commit to reading, 66 sonnets has got to have plenty to say. These poems never flinch and the best of them (‘The Only English Kid’, ‘In H&M’, ‘Janine I/II’) leave us caring for the kids as much as she does.’ – Carl Tomlinson, Poetry News (Best poetry books of the year 2021)

‘The first half of Hannah Lowe’s sonnet sequence The Kids is an affectionate portrait of her time teaching a class of struggling students (“Each page we read is a step up a mountain/ in gluey boots”). The second reflects on family and her own schooldays, with memorable lines on messy adolescent desire: there’s a boy whose “voice was like a shirt unbuttoning”. Lowe’s social conscience, grounded register and frank humanity recall Tony Harrison…’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph, on the 2021 T S Eliot Prize Shortlist

The Kids asks awkward questions about institutionalized education, but retains an unshakable faith in the kids and the joy they derive from learning and from their world and, because of this, it imagines a bright future.’ – John Field, for the T S Eliot Prize

‘Hannah Lowe’s previous two collections, Chick and Chan, focused on her relationship with her Jamaican-Chinese father, alongside coming-of-age recollections. The Kids marks a departure: an introspective book of modern sonnets, it offers a glimpse into her experiences of teaching in an inner-city London sixth form. The collection includes homages to her own teachers, and concludes with a sequence lovingly written for her young son… This is a playful yet moving collection that will make the reader frown and laugh, sometimes both at once.’ – Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian, best recent poetry

‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids combines formal skill with a rare bravery, and bears a lightness of touch that is often virtuosic. This book of sonnets is deeply enjoyable to read… The sequencing of the sonnets is brilliant, so that the book unfolds and deepens with every new page.’  – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times

‘Hannah Lowe’s third full-length collection The Kids is a book of loose, light-touch sonnets about growing up and growing old, parents and children, teaching and learning.’ – Andy Croft, Morning Star

‘Lowe’s skill at working with traditional forms has been strongly in evidence from her debut collection Chick onwards. She has an easy, conversational take on the iambic pentameter line, and is skilled at finding both full and slant rhymes that don’t come across as forced. This results in poems that feel contemporary, yet still have a sense of the language being heightened into song.’ – Alan Buckley, The Friday Poem, on The Kids

‘Always, we are in the hands of Lowe’s singular, effortless voice, and reminded that all good education should be an education in class, in the legacies and histories of empire and in the self.’ – Andrew McMillan, Poetry Book Society Bulletin

‘Chick was a hard act to follow. In this painfully aware, complex and very dynamic collection, Hannah Lowe has more than succeeded. Anyone entering teaching would do well to read it. As would everyone else.‘ – Beth McDonough, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts) on The Kids

‘The poems in The Kids fizz and chat with all the vitality and longing of the classes they conjure. Funny, moving, sometimes painful and always questioning, they capture teachers and their students learning life from each other in profound and unexpected ways. A joy to read.’ – Liz Berry

‘These sequences of stories are a refreshing update to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and To Sir with Love. Each of Lowe’s sonnets is a blackboard chalked with the tales of earnest teachers, of cheeky and lovable students, of being mentored to become a poet and of motherhood and learning to instruct again. Lowe makes the sonnet exciting for our age through its urgent, its compassionate, its wonderfully humorous address of the personal and the social.’ – Daljit Nagra

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