Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Poetry BY Young People

In honor of Young People’s Poetry Week, I thought it might be appropriate to feature some poetry that is written BY children. In general, my goal in sharing poetry with children is to focus on reading, performing, and discussing it, rather than on writing it; on the experience of poetry rather than the production of it. However, many children naturally experiment with writing poetry, particularly when they are immersed in reading and talking about it. (But I continue to be frustrated by the converse: children expected to WRITE poetry, when they’ve had very little experience reading or listening to it.) Sharing poetry BY kids can be appealing because it touches adults with the voices and experiences of our youngest, and inspires children who begin to think of themselves as possible creators of poetry. Here’s one of my personal favorites, gathered and published by poet Sanford Lyne in Ten-Second Rainshowers:

Forever and a Day
By Heather Lachman
Grade 4

I want to go home.
The day is long.
It has been long ever since
I woke up.

From Lyne, Sandford, comp. 1996. Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Several poets who have worked in schools, libraries, and with other youth projects have gathered and edited collections of poetry written by children of all ages. Collections such as Salting the Ocean edited by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow, 2000) or Ten-Second Rain Showers (Simon & Schuster, 1996) and Soft Hay Will Catch You (Simon & Schuster, 2004) both edited by Sanford Lyne, and for young adults, Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps by Bill Aguado (HarperTeen, 2003) and Things I Have to Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls and You Hear Me? Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys (both Candlewick, 2001) collected by Betsy Franco are all beautiful books full of unsentimental and authentic young voices. And for a more humorous look at poetry writing, consider Australian author Gary Crew’s mock journal, Troy Thompson’s Excellent Peotry [sic] Book (Kane/Miller, 2003) which LOOKS like a collection of very personal poems in a child’s own handwriting (although it’s created by an adult). For children who aspire to be writers or who may find personal poetry writing a helpful release, these books are an invitation to see oneself as a writer, to see children as capable of poetic expression, too.

Picture credit:


Bijoy said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks a bunch! Check back any time. I welcome feedback.

joyce said...

Sylvia, I am loving your poetry blogs, especially today's. If guided and exposed to great poetry (and sometimes even if not!) children can write amazing poems. They are natural poets, after all--making connections that we as adults have since lost. Keep up your wonderful, insightful posts!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Joyce, Thanks so much for stopping by. Obviously I agree with you and am always looking for gentle ways to encourage children's poetic expression. These kinds of resources are ideal, aren't they?