What if your pet could write a poem—what would they say? In today’s poetry prompt, we’ll be exploring the barking, purring, whinnying world of animal voices in poetry! Plus, read on for a pet-themed poetry contest to enter once you’ve written your poem.
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Let’s begin by imagining a conversation with one of your pets. What kind of voice does your pet have? Maybe it’s got a scratchy, low voice, or perhaps it’s has a whispery high voice. What would your pet tell you? What are they thinking?
If you don’t have a pet, start by picturing your dream pet. Think about what type of animal it would be, what its eating habits are, and what its personality might be like. If you’re feeling especially daring, try dreaming up a really wild pet. What would it be like to have a pet phoenix, or even a manticore? What would you do if a dragon decided to become your pet?
Once you have a general impression of your pet’s voice and what’s going on inside of their head, it’s time to pick a specific moment to write your poem about. If you pick one particular memory, your poem will be more detailed, specific, and memorable. So go ahead and dig through your memories to decide on the perfect event, whether it’s the first time you met your pet or an adventure you had together.
Then, you need to pick what voice you’ll be using in your poem.You can either write from your own perspective or you speak in your pet’s voice, imagining what they are thinking and feeling.
Now, it’s time to start writing. Free verse works well for writing about your pets, since you can adapt it to sound like any voice. You can make each line really short with only a few words or even a single sound on the line, if you’ve got a pet that speaks in really short bursts. Or, if you think your pet would give long speeches, try writing longer lines full of big words and lots of punctuation!
Once you’re finished with the first draft of your poem, let it sit for a few days, then go back and revise it. How can you use words to echo the sounds your pet makes? Choose words that sound growling, barking, whinnying, or meowing. Make sure to add lots of sensory details like smells, tastes, sounds to make your poem come alive!
If you really like your finished poem, you can even submit it to a contest! Check out this Pet Poetry Competition, open all year, by Young Writers (it’s a UK competition, but open to young writers from around the world).
And that’s it! So go talk to your pet and start writing!
Books to Get You Thinking about Pets
Little Dog Poems, by Kristine O’Connell George
Pet Crazy, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Stella Unleashed: Notes from the Doghouse, by Linda Ashman
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot
Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs, by Douglas Florian