It’s Poetry Friday and I’m glad to be back. Last week I missed posting on Friday – but I had a really good excuse. I was in Singapore, attending the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), as well as checking out this amazing city, which I had not visited before.
At the AFCC I participated in two panel sessions, ran an eight hour masterclass (on the subject of book reviewing) and also presented a one hour session on the value of poetry and verse novels. So, because it’s Poetry Friday, I thought I would share a poem which I shared in that session, and talk a little bit about why I shared it.
This is my first published poem for children which appeared in the School Magazine in 2002:
(Copyright Sally Murphy)
I shared this poem in my session for two reasons: firstly, because it is special to me as my first published children’s poem, and secondly, because I was talking about why we share poems with children.
My feeling is that, even in the educational setting, poetry should be fun. Summer Salad could be used for lessons on healthy eating, or alliteration, or even to begin a writing exercise (crafting a list poem).
But, when children read it, what I hope is that first and foremost they will enjoy the way it plays with words, using vocabulary which is interesting and, perhaps, unfamiliar. Words like ‘luscious’, and ‘delectable’ might be new to child readers, and so the poem invites them to find out what they are, to enjoy playing with these words.
If all we want to do is use poetry to teach stuff, then I may as well have written:
Eating healthy salad
Is very good for you
You should go and find
A lettuce leaf to chew!
(copyright Sally Murphy)
Bleh. Writing poetry (and sharing it with children in or out of the classroom) should not be a cynical exercise in force feeding them poetry OR salad.
If we write poetry that invites readers to connect with the topic, with the language, with the emotions expressed, educational benefits are likely to follow. But the pleasure should be foremost!
Have a great Friday. You can see more poetry posts at the roundup, which this week is hosted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.