Poetry You Actually Like

After my Limericks post, I realized how true it is that people who swear they don’t like poetry actually might. Plenty of people enjoy limericks, and that’s poetry.

What other poetry masquerades as something fun rather than something you must study for that one stupid unit in English class? For Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, let’s look at some children’s poets who appeal to kids and grownups alike.

Shel Silverstein

Poet Shel Silverstein authored 12 books. Some of his most popular were A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and The Giving Tree. He wrote about silly stuff but also stuff to which we relate. He described feelings that we all have with words that entertain. For instance, here’s the beginning of “Sick” from Where the Sidewalk Ends:

 

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?”

The poem continues with all of Peggy Ann McKay’s reasons for not going to school – which we can relate to as a student or a parent.

Here’s a silly one from Shel Silverstein made into a video:

 

Dr. Seuss
You’ve heard of him, right? Theodor Geisel, or pen name Dr. Seuss, wrote 47 children’s books. I don’t know any adults who don’t enjoy Dr. Seuss as well. Geisel was great at playing with language, but he also taught some important concepts in his poems. For instance, in Yertle the Turtle, an arrogant turtle king turns his fellow pond dwellers into minions who must serve his desire to gain more and more power. That is, until one particular turtle speaks out on behalf of everyone:

That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a little bit mad
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king.

reprinted from www.seussville.com

It’s about a bunch of turtles, but also about equality and fair treatment in society.

My own favorite from Dr. Seuss, however, is Horton Hatches the Egg. Merrie Melodies did a version of the tale in 1942. It’s enjoyable to watch, but I’ll give you advance notice that it is almost 10 minutes long.

 

Jack Prelutsky
Jack Prelutsky was the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate, named by the Poetry Foundation in 2006. However, Prelutsky said, “There was a time when I couldn’t stand poetry! In grade school, I had a teacher who left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. I was told that it was good for me, but I wasn’t convinced” (from Scholastic). As a young man, he enjoyed drawing and started adding a poem to each of his pictures. Now, he has written more than 50 poetry collections for children. Here’s a sample:

Ma! Don’t throw that shirt out,
It’s my all-time favorite shirt!
I admit it smells peculiar,
and is stained with grease and dirt,
that it’s missing half its buttons,
and has got so many holes
that it might have been infested
by a regiment of moles.

Yes! I know that I’ve outgrown it,
that it’s faded and it’s torn,
I can see the sleeves are frazzled,
I’m aware the collar’s worn,
but I’ve had that shirt forever,
and I swear that I’ll be hurt
if you dare to throw that shirt out —
IT’S MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE SHIRT!

reprinted from www.jackprelutsky.com

I missed Halloween by quite a few days, but here’s another, spookier one called The Ghoul:

So what do you think of poetry? Do you enjoy children’s poetry? Who are your favorite children’s poets or favorite children’s poems?

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13 thoughts on “Poetry You Actually Like

  1. I actually LOVE all types of poetry and until I changed formats on my blog I was featuring a 'Monday Morning Poetry' post every week. Maybe I will get back into it. I loved this post because it really does open people's eyes to see that poetry is hiding in lots of work they already love!

  2. Poetry, for the most part, is the literary equivalent of liver to me. Perhaps even gizzards. I do like some of Shel Silverstein's work. Were you aware he wrote some pretty popular songs? One of the few poets I actually enjoy is Charles Bukowski. He had such a bleak (and true) view of the world. One other thing. I love songs. Isn't that a form of poetry? Sort of? If so, Jim Morrison is a favorite. LOL

  3. Great post. I always swear I'm not a poetry person, and I love children's books like Dr. Seuss. Plus, I love music. What are songs? Really just poetry set to music.Poetry can be daunting for me, so I think that's why I avoid it. I need to embrace it in pieces until I gain a true appreciation.Thanks for the inspiration to do just that.

  4. I'm not a big poetry reader, but I love children's poetry. It's such a great way for them to learn sentence structure and cadence, and of course, rhyming. Dr. Seuss was the master at that, and he made it so much fun. And I can remember reading Where The Sidewalk Ends over and over.

  5. I'm one of those people who never liked poetry that much but I'm going to confess that I never appreciated Dr. Seuss until a few years ago!!! And that poem about the favorite shirt was priceless. I think I'm going to go to Amazon and buy some poetry.PattiTHANK, JULIE.

  6. Just to show how much of an impact these amazing poems can have on a kid, I swear, I remembered "Sick" so vividly when I started reading it in your post here, including the rest of the poem, and I probably haven't even read it since I was nine! I've always loved that one, though!What a great post. The wonderful thing about these poets is how their whimsical wit can make anyone of any age's day a little bit brighter with their clever words.

  7. Great comments! I'm finally getting back on here. Songs are definitely poetry set to music. Also, this post made me think of the poem my dad told me growing up:I'm a poetI didn't know itBut my feet show it'Cause they're LongfellowsHas anyone else heard that one?

  8. I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan and I usually pick up one of his books whenever I need to get my brain moving while I write. I love poetry and wrote it long before I wrote bigger posts. I don't know if I'll get back to it, but I find it interests me when my brain is tired.

  9. Hello everyone,
    First, this is a great blog! I love reading blogs that center on poetry, especially poetry for children. Hmmm, it seems there are quite a few who’ve commented who don’t particularly like children’s poetry. I can honestly say, there are some wonderful children’s poets “out there”, if you’ll just do a search on Google. As a children’s poet/author, I can vouch for many of them. Author’s Den is a good place to find some, and I have several links on my website to some worthy children’s poets, as well.

    Again, love your blog. You keep writing, I’ll keep reading.
    Your friend in poetry,
    CJ Heck

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