This is my playground for poetry written for children with ideas and inspiration for writing your own poems. Come on in. Sit for a spell, have a cup of words to swirl around and make your own cup of poetry. I'm so glad you are here. I hope you'll find the Kingdom of Poetry a fun place to be.

Friday, May 15, 2015



from a Sequoia
long, thin
pine needles

poke and jab
make us slightly

like the Indian legend
of talking leaves
genius, clever, brilliant

let me remark
upon his native intelligence
taught himself

to read--first in English
then devised script
for his Cherokee

taught his daughter
to read and write
in her own tongue

with his daughter
showed the Chiefs
usefulness of written words

convinced the Cherokee nations
to learn to read and write
and to understand
the power
of talking leaves.

    Michelle Barnes has a poetry challenge this month on her blog Today's Little Ditty suggested by Nikki Grimes. Nikki supplied ten words for writing poems. One of the words was leaf and this got me to the story of talking leaves, how Sequoia convinced the Cherokee nations to learn to read and write. The tall red wood trees that grow along the Pacific Coast are named after him.  I think it is a pretty amazing story. I know stories about dogwood trees, apple trees, willow trees, and even a Davie poplar tree on the campus of the University of North Carolina.  Do you know any stories about trees?  Would you like to make up your own story? Can you write your own poem about a tree, leaves or even one leaf today?  Have fun writing.

  Today is Friday and Diane Mayr is hosting the Friday Poetry Round Up on her blog Random Noodling.  You can read more poetry at her blog and take a tour of all the blog sites featuring poetry today.


  1. What a wonderful story. What a wonderful poem! I love how you carried us from the poking pine needs at the beginning to "the power of talking leaves" at the end. Nicely done, Joy!

    1. Thanks, Michelle. Did you see Tabatha Yeatts bio poem today? She used a mentor poem (Helen Keller by Langston Hughes) to write hers on Louis Pasteur. My next task is to see if I can take the Sequoia information and put it into her format. I hope I can do this in 12 lines!

  2. Joy, how interesting this poem is. Its development reminds me of a story unfolding. I like Michelle enjoyed the ending. I would be interested in how you transform the words into a biography poem.

    1. Carol,
      For me it is a process of distillation. I gather the facts I need to include, consider the words, consider what I can leave out, think about the ending, and then see if a form emerges. The triplet fell out of this one and I was able to hold to that until the last stanza. Check tomorrow and see how I dropped the daughter out and cut the poem to 12 lines with some rhyming--using the mentor poem of Tabatha Yeatts Louis Pasteur (The Opposite of Indifference blog), and Langston Hughes' Helen Keller as the models. I do enjoy biography poems, they naturally tell a story. The tricky part is finding a satisfying ending.

  3. Love this biography poem! I can't wait to see your revision. I love that you took a challenge word and created a story. An important biography too! You are so amazing!

    1. Linda,
      I think the revision of this poem is going to be a long time coming because there are so many parts to it. Maybe I should think of doing a verse novel on Sequoia's life.

  4. I love this poem Joy, and the use of the form to share a biography is clever.

    1. The amazing thing to me about this story is that once the Chiefs agreed that the Cherokee should read and write, it only took about 18 months for everyone to become literate. Do you know how many people in the US still can't read and write in English.

  5. I just love the talking needles aspect of this story! I encourage you to continue your idea of a verse biography, Joy, and I like how this grew out of the DMC challenge--a great twist!