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“Poetry, Ahhhh!” –Not “Poetry, Arghhh!”

I’ve always been in love with poetry –but I loved words at a very young age, and my first experience being told to write a poem was a very positive one. My grade one teacher took us to the local arena, and when we returned, she asked us to write an “expressive limerick” about it. Then she explained that meant, “just write what you felt.” I wrote down, “I felt grand!” and away I went, titling the poem, “At the Arena.” Now an avid inline skater and a published poet, I’d like to think I was a natural at both skating and poetry (and I actually come up with a lot of my ideas for my poems while inline skating along the river.)

I also think the way poetry was first taught to me gave me such a positive experience that I didn’t ever fear it. All of my creative writing teachers let me be expressive. They didn’t force the rules. They taught me what I “should” do for a certain type of poem, but let me throw in my own style, too.

I’ve met (or cyber-met)  a lot of people from many walks of life while on this journey of writing and promoting my poetry. Many tell me they didn’t think they liked poetry–feared it, even– until they came across mine –and somehow, it spoke to them, and they realized it wasn’t as intimidating or as dull as they’d imagined.

Do you remember the first time you were told to write or recite a poem? Tell me about it. Were you intrigued, or scared out of your mind? Thinking about your experience, what do you think teachers and poets need to do to excite children about poetry, so that feeling stays with them for a lifetime?

I’ll be visiting some schools this year as part of the League of Canadian Poets’ ‘Poets in the Schools’ program, and I think your stories will help me keep the children engaged.

I’m asking this question on my Facebook Author Page too–come join in the discussion!

Heather Grace, 5, "At the Arena"

6 thoughts on ““Poetry, Ahhhh!” –Not “Poetry, Arghhh!”

  1. My kids have to memorize & recite a poem every two weeks (grade 1 & 2!). My daughter loved it from the start, my son warmed up when we started acting out the poems and telling them to each other like they were secrets – whispering them back and forth at bathtime, in the checkout line. Now he is a big word fan, telling me about cool phrases he’s heard, quoting whole stanzas to make a point.
    Neither of them has written one yet, but I’m going to suggest it soon, maybe after a fun day like your first grade teacher. As you say, I think it’s key for kids to see creating as fun, and as powerful. And, for my two at least, it really helped to get to know particular poems in depth, via learning them. There’s something about the feel of the words that comes through more and more the longer you live with them

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  2. So… I’ll have to confess, I don’t really enjoy poetry.
    I was a true poetry-kid. Loved writing it and performing it, always was at the top in school contests. It was my thing.
    And now that I think about it, somehow, that experience turned me off poetry as an adult. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it again at one point, but for the past 15 years it just hasn’t done anything for me. I don’t hate it, I’m just not really moved by it. Even though I can appreciate a good writer no matter the genre and I love words, I’m just not inclined to read or buy, much less write, poetry anymore.
    I don’t know if that’s useful in anyway, but may be something to think about.

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  3. I was never into poetry until I read Where the Butterflies go. I found your style refreshing and very emotional. You have a connection to the world around you that comes through in your writing and really touches me. Leap for me, took it to another level. Not to mention the personal connection to the book, You seemed to have developed an even deeper connection with your surroundings and you bring a very beautiful perspective to the reader.

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