When Kids Learn to Love Poetry

I admit it, poetry was never my favourite thing.

In fact, it’s easy and honest to say that I’ve spent pretty much no significant period in my life reading any sort of rhythm or rhyme.

For a long time, I dismissed such musings outright.

Who wants to read stuff that you have to guess at the meaning?

Rhyming, whatever!

I’m a novelist, not a poet!

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Then, of course, came children.

I read SO MANY RHYMING BOOKS when my kids were little, and I started to realize the true cantor of words. Then, how spoken word carried a lyrical quality when written well. Then, how writing poetry could help me become a better long-form writer.

I was hooked and slightly ashamed at my willingness to dismiss such a gorgeous art form.

As I started teaching creative writing, I used it as a way for kids to develop their descriptive writing skills. The results are often amazing

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This past week, I introduced my wonderful Grade-1 student, Rickie, to this sort of magic. He got to take home a copy of the lovely Children’s First Book of Poems with illustrations from Cyndy Szekeres.

He pored through it for the last week, and got to pick out the one that made his heart sing.

It was, indeed, a lovely tale about a lonely puffin who traded eating fish for making friends with them (and got to eat pancakes instead, bonus!).

 

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We spent time today learning how to use descriptive words to write a rhyming puffin poem of his own, and it turned out so great.

In the end, though, the biggest win from all of this poetry was receiving an inspired text from his mom over the weekend with him reading a newly minted poem written by Rickie himself. Then, I got to see the hard copy of it today:

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On Why Writing Is So Damn Hard

Let me be clear, I breathe the written word. It is my life force, my prana, my life purpose, my escape, my clarity. It is also my most complicated, vicious, taxing, and painful relationship. Nothing comes even close to the challenge a devotion to writing inflicts upon me at every turn.

Writing is so damn hard.

While that may come off as me prepping for a whiny diatribe on the travails of the writer’s life, it actually constitutes me launching into a bit of a love poem (I SUCK at poetry and do not pretend to have any training in it whatsoever. So, indulge me):

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Oh word that I write

Bringing to life so many wishes.

Oh word that I write

How you keep me from doing the dishes.

Every day I sit and stare and think of a million other things to do.

Then, with a whisper, a pull, and a shove, you force me to feel something that draws me back to you.

No laundry is done. Take-out pizza for dinner again tonight.

I made my kid walk home by herself

because you and I are having a fight.

Characters haunt my dreams

Settings drive me to call my travel agent friend.

Yet we all know the balance of my bank account

means that little fantasy has to end.

Oh word that I write

does it count to make a writing playlist on Spotify instead of banging out Chapter 3?

Oh word that I write

It’s been eight hours staring at you. I have to pee.

Why do you tease me like this?

Why do you always get your way?

Oh word that I write

How I need you

To make sense of my life every day.