We think poetry should be accessible to all - and that includes kids! Look around this page and find fun facts, links, exercises, listen to poems read aloud, and see what Nicola recommends.

A Piece of Music That Has No Words

Listen to a piece of music that has no words. While you listen, freewrite what you imagine is happening in the music. Is there a war going on? Is someone falling in love? What colors are there? Do they change as the music gets faster or slower, louder or softer? When the piece ends, write a poem using your freewrite. Try to remember the pace of the music for different parts, and see if you can make your poem slow down and speed up.

I Always Remember

Faith Ringgold starts her book Tar Beach with the sentence “I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge.” What will you ALWAYS remember? Is it something that really happened, or something you imagined really well? Start with the line “I will always remember…” and write for ten lines, starting each line with that phrase.

I Wish

Write a Wish poem. Every line begins with the phrase “I wish…” It can be big wishes or small wishes. Wishes for yourself or others or animals, birds, or things like rocks and trees, the planet earth, moon and stars.

I wish the stars could sleep on my pillow at night
I wish all dogs loved all cats
I wish I had long green hair and a big top hat

Line After Line

Write a line in response to each line in the following list:

Two lines to be buried
Five lines written for different kinds of wind
One line to be wrapped in a T-shirt
Four lines to be swallowed
One line to be written in gravel
One line to be written in sand
Three lines to be given to ducklings
Five lines to be written and given to trees
Four lines to be hung on branches
One line thanking the cherry blossoms
One line that will always be underwater
An invisible line
Four lines written to people or things who are no longer here
A line specifically for ants
Two lines to be burned
Three lines written to be carried over the ocean
Four lines to be inscribed on pillows for travelers
Two lines to be written in deep sleep
One line to be attached to the chain of a lightbulb
Two lines for President Obama
Four lines made of glass
A line meant to be melted
A line for a lonely skunk
Two lines that are a secret confession to the Beloved
A line to be said on the top of a mountain
Three lines to be told to a train
Three lines specifically for socks
A line written for an elephant
Two lines made of clouds
Two lines mentioning flower petals
Four lines  about the love of chocolate cake
Five lines about a flooded basement
One line made of meat
A crazy line
A long line written to be sewn into a baby’s blanket
One line addressing your  nose
One line filled with hands
One line written for ice
One line written for a race horse

Rhythm

With a partner or two, start a rhythm using snapping, clapping, or other sounds. Keeping the rhythm consistent, take turns making up lines to a poem that follows your rhythm. You can just shout words, and it can be total nonsense! Afterward, see if you can remember some of your favorite lines.

Tall Tales

Think of something big. Really big. How big is it? As big as a refrigerator? As big as an elephant? As big as a particle collider? You’re describing this big thing to your friend and, well, you might have exaggerated a little. Write a poem about this thing, starting with the words “It was as big as a __________!” and just getting bigger and bigger. Try it with a small thing, an ugly thing, a gross thing, a sharp thing, a heavy thing.

The Tiger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Please write a poem where you ask a list of questions to an animal that you think is
mysterious and beautiful. Make the poem six questions or six stanzas. No need to rhyme.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,

The only moving thing

Was the eye of the blackbird.



II



I was of three minds,

Like a tree

In which there are three blackbirds.



III



The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.

It was a small part of the pantomime.



IV



A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a blackbird

Are one.



V



I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of inflections

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

The blackbird whistling

Or just after.



VI



Icicles filled the long window

With barbaric glass.

The shadow of the blackbird

Crossed it, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An indecipherable cause.



VII



O thin men of Haddam,

Why do you imagine golden birds?

Do you not see how the blackbird

Walks around the feet

Of the women about you?



VIII



I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.



IX



When the blackbird flew out of sight,

It marked the edge

Of one of many circles.



X



At the sight of blackbirds

Flying in a green light,

Even the bawds of euphony

Would cry out sharply.



XI



He rode over Connecticut

In a glass coach.

Once, a fear pierced him,

In that he mistook

The shadow of his equipage

For blackbirds.



XII



The river is moving.

The blackbird must be flying.



XIII



It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The blackbird sat

In the cedar-limbs.




Write a "Thirteen Ways" poem of your own.  Pick anything or anyone that interests you and write 13 different ways you could relate different, even random, life experiences to that thing or person.

We Real Cool

We Real Cool



We real cool. We

Left school. We



Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We



Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We



Jazz June. We

Die soon.




Gwendolyn Brooks wrote this poem after noticing a group of kids who probably should have been in school.  Think about a person or a group of people.  You don't have to know them.  Write a poem in the voice of that person or group, starting each new line with the word "I" or "we."

What You Love, What You Don’t

Write a poem about a kind of food that you love or really don’t like. Please use wild exaggerations in each line. For example, “I am madly in love with fried squid.” Or “I cannot abide with peas.”