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, April 6, 2012

A Year

In September, I got a new blue backpack to start school.
In May, a wren built a nest in the planter outside my window.  I heard the birds sing.
In November, Grandma sent me a new pair of soft red mittens.  I lost them before the new year.
In June, I went swimming in the cold water of the lake.
In January, I didn't celebrate my birthday, the snow was too deep.
In August, Grandpa took me fishing, I caught my first fish.
In October, Daddy took a trip to Texas and brought me back a t-shirt.
In February, my younger sister stole $5 from Mom's purse to buy books at the book fair.
In July, I ate six ears of buttered corn at the Fourth of July picnic.
In March, the frogs croaking down by the creek were so loud they kept me awake.
In December, I got a bicycle for Christmas and was so happy.
In April, it was National Poetry Month when I wrote this poem.

     Here is another list poem based on the months of the year.  I've mixed up the months to keep the poem more interesting and less predictable.  What line do you think is the most interesting?  I've tried to include the five senses--smell is probably the weakest in this poem.  What would make a better line to feature smell?
    So here is your assignment.  Write 12 lines of poetry based on the 12 months of the year.  Try to include your five senses.  Make one line a negative line of something you didn't do or something that didn't happen.  If you have a sibling, make one line about something your sibling did or likes.  Do you have a pet, devote one line to your pet. Start by making a list of things you've done, seen, received--that sort of thing, and then pick some interesting ones to shape into your poem.  Have fun.  Please share your creations with me in the comments below, or at least share your most or least interesting line.  Write on.


  1. Fun idea for a poem, Joy. I like February (took me by surprise) and May. Also drooled at July and like how you ended with April.

  2. Hmm...I'm thinking this would make a good end-of-year holiday letter...

  3. I like the way you mixed the lines up. And...really...SIX ears of corn? I can only imagine the flossing you had to do after THAT!

  4. Thanks for sharing, Joy! No birthday party in January? I have a January birthday but grew up in Florida, so we didn't have to contend with snow! ;0)

  5. Thank you all for dropping by and for taking the time to leave comments.
    Thanks for letting me know that this poem worked for you.
    Remember that the job of the poet is to write a good poem. Perhaps I should have included in the directions to make one line a lie.
    So here are my confessions and secrets. My birthday is not in January. It is in May. I share my birthday with Theodore Roethke--he is my birthday poet. I think everyone who writes poetry should have a birthday poet. I've learned a lot from reading everything I could find about him. Roethke wrote MY PAPA'S WALTZ and he has a pretty good instructional text. My books on Roethke share a whole book shelf with my small collection of books on Robert Frost.
    Now here is the second secret. Like many people, I like to shop at Thrift Stores. I especially like to look for books there. A few years back I started collecting the abandoned/re-cycled diaries of children that end up in the thrift store. Somehow I find it slightly titillating to think that I'm reading the private thoughts of a young person whom I've never met and by the time I'm buying the diary, the child is much older. So the February line about stealing $5 from Mom's purse came from one of these journals--I paid 50 cents for that line.
    But this poem was written for children and I think it does give kids lots to talk about and plenty of ideas for their own poems.
    If the children you are working with are not up to a 12 line poem, this format can be used with the days of the week for a 7 line poem. I first did this exercise with adults where we used years instead of months. (I learned about this exercise from an excellent poet Steve Kowit who I believe took it from Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio THE POET'S COMPANION. If you are not familiar with Addonizio's poem The Red Dress, you must go look it up http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16213 )

  6. When I wrote the above, I couldn't put my hands on my copy of ON POETRY AND CRAFT by Theodore Roethke. I finally found it in a bag that I'd thrown together to take with me last week to sit with my father-in-law while he had surgery for a skin cancer. The book has a foreword by Carolyn Kizer, one of the really great modern female poets. The section on "Words for Young Writers" is worth the cost of the book itself. Published in 2001 by Copper Canyon Press, you might be able to find this one in a thrift store. Enjoy your treasure if you do--or check it out from the library.

  7. Joy,

    Never, ever let your birthday pass again without celebrating. I don't care if the snow covers the roof. You are too special not to have a birthday celebration each year, even if you can't get out the door. Now, can you tell which line stirred my emotions? This was great!

    Linda A.

  8. Oh Linda,
    What a fantastic start to a poem.

    Never, ever
    let your birthday
    pass again without
    celebrating. I don't care
    if the snow
    covers the roof.
    You are too special
    not to have a birthday
    celebration each year, even
    if you can't get out the door.

    (You could continue with all the lengths you'd go to wish Happy Birthday--all the things you won't let get in the way. And then at the end to get yourself out of the poem, you could have a few lines like--
    I promise I'll NEVER forget your birthday.
    Your twin sister.)

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