Picture a poem you really love, one that makes you laugh or cry or full of joy. Now, think about who wrote it. If they were in front of you now, what would you ask them? What do you think they'd say? Today's your chance to dream big and write a letter to a poet.
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One of the annual traditions during National Poetry Month is the "Dear Poet" project hosted by the Academy of American Poets. Kids write letters in response to one of eight featured poems for chances to be published on Poets.org or to receive a reply from one of the poets.
While we love this idea, and we encourage your family to participate, we want to approach letter-writing in a different way with today's poetry activity.
Today, you'll be writing a letter to a poet. But not just any poet—you'll be writing to the person who wrote your favorite poem of all time.
- Do you love Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"? Perfect.
- Can't get enough of A.A. Milne's "Now We Are Six"? That works too.
- Love nothing better than Kwame Alexander's The Crossover? Well go ahead and settle in!
If you don't have a favorite poem or book of poetry, don't worry. Take your time to flip through some poetry books and see what catches your eye. We recommend the Random House Book of Poetry for Children for a great collection of poems.
Choose a poem that makes you laugh out loud, or one that makes you think about something you've never imagined before. Pick one that sparks your imagination and tells an incredible story.
Pick something you love.
What's next? Settle in and re-read the poem. Remind yourself why you enjoy it so much.
Then, close your eyes and imagine that the author just sat down in the armchair across from you. You're sipping a cup of tea together, and now's your chance to talk.
Keep your eyes closed and think about what you would say. What are you curious about?
- Where did they get their inspiration from?
- Did poetry help them through any problems or hard times in their own life?
- How did they come up with such interesting words and rhymes?
Once you've had a chance to think, take a few minutes to freewrite about your imaginary conversation. What did you ask the poet about and what did they say? Did you talk about your own life? Did you ask them about theirs?
Then, go ahead and write a letter to the poet. Take some time to craft a letter that shows the poet how much you care about their work, and be sure to ask what you'd like to know.
If your poet is still alive, you can actually send them a letter or an email. Most poets have email addresses on a personal website or Facebook fan page. Others direct their mail through their publisher.
Mail it off and see if they respond!
No matter who you write to and whether or not you receive a response, you've already had a conversation with a poet just by reading their poem. That's the power of poetry: it connects people across time and distance to share together in laughter, sadness, and joy.
Now let's go read more poetry together today.