Guest Blogger

Poetry is Alive and Well

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.

We all know this Eugene Field poem, don’t we? The rhythmic rocking of this language does a great job taking us back to when we first heard it, read it, maybe even memorized it.

I was ten when I tucked this lullaby away in memory. It was fanciful, beautiful, and surprising. It caused my body to sway, slowly, with anticipation for the next cadenced line. What I knew then: this poem made me feel. What I didn’t know then: I was participating in the long and impressive tradition of poetry.

Along with a few other poems, I read Wynken, Blynken, and Nod to a group of twenty four 7, 8, and 9 year olds during a mid-July program. At one point, I became very aware of the silence in the room; while looking around I saw their collective mouth agape, their summer-bodies bent forward, hanging on every single one of these herring fish. And there we were, on the floor, engaging in a poem written in 1889.

My program was called Poetry. Simple, right? The kids got to eat up little morsels of poems and after my public reading, we broke into three different activities: Spine Poetry, Nature Poetree, and Imagery Rainbows. These were a hit!

For Spine Poetry I gathered a bunch of old chapter and picture books, gave a brief explanation: try to make beautiful language with just the titles; they may or may not make sense. (Talk about a fun and library-centric found-poetry exercise.) Next, I created a POETREE where I hung nature themed poems. I encouraged the group to pluck off a poem, read it, and write one. My intent of the POETREE is to create a display of these nature poems in our 811’s. Lots of poems were donated for the library poetree. Lastly, Imagery Rainbows combined bright construction paper and an easily approachable take on metaphor and simile. This was the most populated activity and the grown-ups even created a few!

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The whole intention of this program, and many like it, is to make poetry amiable, approachable, and enjoyable. The rate of poetry consumption is going down* in this country and I have taken it as a personal mission in my little corner of the world to take steps in the opposing direction.

So, if that old moon asks me:

Where are you going and what do you wish?

I have my answer at the ready.

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Photo courtesy guest blogger
Photo courtesy guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Erica Anderson-Senter. Erica is a Children’s Librarian in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the Allen County Public Library system. She has her MFA in Poetry, her favorite color is sunshine, and a Belted Kingfisher is her spirit animal.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

2 comments

  1. Sylvia Vardell

    I share your passion for poetry and love how kids enjoy it along with me. Kudos to you for incorporating poetry so successfully into your summer program and thanks for sharing your ideas. If you write about this further, I hope you’ll reach out. I blog at PoetryforChildren.Blogspot.com and would love to hear more. Best wishes, Sylvia Vardell

  2. Kris

    Wonderful. Amazing. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your ideas and your talent!

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