Creating Poetry with Non-Writers

The Earth Spins on Little Cogs

Young children live in a world of poetic ideas.  Their language is filled with poetic comparisons and they see things in fresh, and often charming, ways.

Poet and teacher, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, writes about this in Poemcrazy.  She describes being out in the garden with her preschool-aged son.  As they transplanted a tree from a pot to a hole in the ground he remarked, ‘The world will be its new pants.’[1]

Metaphor and simile seem to come naturally to little children.  The poet Kenneth Koch wrote that, ‘children have a natural talent for poetry… (they are) tuned into their own strong feelings, to their spontaneity, their sensitivity, and their carefree inventiveness.’[2]

I recently went on a walk with some preschool-aged children from Laingholm Playcentre.  As they wandered I jotted down some of their poetic ideas.  The language in the poem is all theirs, all I had to do was order it…

Playcentre Poem

Capturing children’s poetic ideas can be very affirming.  Last night my son Jack requested his own poetry from The Runcible Spoon at bedtime. We read a few poems and he said, ‘Mum, I have a fun imagination don’t I?’  He was proud of his own ideas.

Koch writes that creating ‘poetry makes children feel happy, capable and creative.  It makes them feel more open to understanding and appreciating what others have written.’

Jack and I read every poem on the site.  He lapped it all up, asking for Azzura and Lila’s poems several times.

Just before he fell asleep he said, ‘Mum, can we make a new poem tomorrow?

How fantastic.


[1] Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, Poemcrazy (Three Rivers Press, 1996), p 31.

[2] Kenneth Koch, Wishes, Lies and Dreams (Harper Perennial, 1999), p 25.



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