#MPF17 Wrap-up: “On Beyond Giggles: Writing Poetry for Children”

In my sixth year of attending the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, I once again listened to amazing poets that were new to me, reconnected with friends and colleagues, and came away with several pages of thoughts on poems I want to write (even a few scribbled draftlets!).

I also led two workshops on Sunday morning of the festival, the first of which was “On Beyond Giggles: Writing Children’s Poetry.”

Several of the folks in the room currently write poetry for children, others were interested in getting into writing for a younger audience, and all of us spent a little time thinking about who we were as children to get in the right mindset for the rest of the workshop.

Who were you when you were five years old? What did five year old you like to play? Who were your friends? Did you have a favorite toy or hideout or joke? Did you have siblings to play with, fight with, or play jokes on?

Who were you when you were seven? Did you have the same friends or new ones? The same fights? The same favorite color?

Who were you when you were ten? Were you out exploring your neighborhood? Getting into reading or sports or board games? Who were your friends? What were you afraid of? What made you laugh?

After calling our kid-selves back to the surface, we looked at some examples of great and effective children’s poetry, and talked about the poems we remembered from childhood ourselves, or from our kids’ favorites. Then we wrote, inspired by several prompts from one of my favorite kids’ poets, Jack Prelutsky.  People came up with some fantastic verse, rhyming and free verse, inventive and imaginative, silly and sweet (and bittersweet too).

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The slides from the workshop are here below.  Thanks to all the hardy folks who attended on an early Sunday morning to talk and write playful poetry with me!

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