Happy National Poetry Month, Toads! I'm happy to share poetry - both written and spoken aloud - and excited to see what inspiring verses April brings us. Thank you for allowing me to continue to be a part of this rich community of poets, thinkers & dreamers.
Today I'd like to shine a light on children's poetry, because along with music, it is what first sparked a fire in me to read, write, and eventually pursue a lifelong career in the arts. How did it do this? By encouraging me to play, to wonder, to discover, to dream and to express myself. I was a small child, an only child - and when I began school, arguably a quiet and sometimes lonely child. Poems helped me understand a world that was complex and, at times, seemingly un-navigable. They also helped me understand myself, and spurred me to begin writing my own poems.
I know I'm not the only child to feel this way about poetry. Far from it! Indeed, there are many examples of children who have used the power of language (& music, & art, & dance) to become more confident young people. But further than instilling confidence, poetry keeps at its heart an experience of humanity like no other. Through the rhythms & words children hear and speak aloud they experience life at a sensual level. I always thought of poetry as a rainbow of not just colours but feelings, places and people. Today, as I read poems I still also feel and experience them, hear and imagine their images in my mind, taste their words on my tongue & feel their rhythms in my chest.
As a writer, I'm often drawn back to thinking of how poetry makes me feel when I'm contemplating the blank page. We all get stuck sometimes, but it is the magic and wonder of poetry that has the power to spur our writing on. Listen to this beautiful spoken-word performance by young Asha @TedXKids -- "Pick up the Pencil."
Do you ever think of your favorite poems or poets from childhood? Did they inspire you to begin writing or do they inspire you to keep writing today? I am going to guess that the answer for many is yes! As a mother, I now love sharing classic poems with my children from Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Dr. Seuss, Edward Lear - as well as poems from contemporary poets. The poetry book that became my favorite in middle school, and certainly inspired me to write - is Hey World, Here I Am! by Jean Little.
In April of 2016, to celebrate National Poetry Month, I published a short collection of poems I wrote as a child - Canvas of Imagination: Poems. Because I love sharing poetry aloud, I recorded a playlist of some of them on Soundcloud. My hope is that they inspire other young people to read, write and share poetry. I've also recorded some of my favorite children's poems from Shel Silverstein & Roald Dahl, and will certainly be adding more in the future. If you'd like to listen, go to: https://soundcloud.com/stacie-eirich/sets
Children's poetry remains my favorite literary genre to read and perform. As much as I love the tactile experience of holding and reading a book, the chance to act it aloud is thrilling! There are some wonderful collections available that encourage you to listen to & perform children's poems aloud. One of my favorites is by children's poet laureate Julia Donaldson - aptly titled Poems to Perform.
Here is a fun poetry performance video from CBBC kids. It just makes me smile! :-)
For today's poetry writing prompt, I'm challenging you to write - or speak - or act! - or sing! - a poem that harkens you back to your childhood imagination. It may be of any theme or form you choose, but it must be as creative as possible. (And no, it doesn't have to rhyme!) I hope it will be magical or whimsical, quirky or funny, colourful or even nonsensical! Create the kind a poem a child would love to read, hear or act out. And most important, have fun & love what you are creating. :-)
Thank you for reading, participating & visiting Imaginary Garden with Real Toads today. It's been my pleasure & privilege to add my voice to this community. Have a fabulous National Poetry Month! -Stacie