Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Freeing your life with words . . . (TPIB: poetry and writing crafts)

I never wrote a poem,
At least one that I’d share
But if I wrote a poem
Does that mean I won the dare?

It seems like there is not enough poetry in the world today, if you ask me.  I have been doing poetry contests with teens in libraries for almost 20 years and each year, there are less entries than the year before.  It’s almost like you have to dare them to write a poem.  Last year I got creative and ditched the poetry all together and did some sidewalk chalk poetry with my tweens.  In fact, you can look at my April National Poetry Month posts to get some great poetry idea to work with tweens and teens.  Start planning now for April.  But since Christie reviewed Tilt today, and since Tilt is written in poetry, I thought I would share one of my favorite nonfiction books to use with teens.  Next month we are going to be doing a lot with teens, nonfiction and your library, so be sure and check back.  In fact, the week of November 11-17th we are doing a whole week of Zest Books nonfiction reviews, programming and more.

Ellen Hopkins writes her YA novels almost exclusively in poems (see today’s review of Tilt), while others wonder: How do you write a poem?

The Book That Turns Those That Don’t Know it into a Poet

Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life in Words by Susan G. Wooldridge is hands down one of my favorite books about writing poetry.  Inside the pages of this book are a lot of hands on ideas that you can do at home, at school or in a library program to help inspire teens and get them thinking about their life in terms of poetry.

What’s the number one thing you need to write a poem? Words of course.  So get out your poetry journal, take a walk through your neighborhood and collect words.  See that empty bench at the park?  Describe it.  Tell us what you see. Tell us what you feel. Tell us what the bench feels.  Who sat on the bench just 5 minutes ago and why did they leave?

Get some index cards and start labelling the things in your house (or library or classroom).  Sure, I can tell you I am sitting at the table typing on my computer.  Or, I could tell you that I am sitting with both hope and despair filling my lungs as my fingers click click click on the keyboard keys in a melancholy rhythm that looks back into the past to find a hope for tomorrow.  You don’t have to sit down and write a poem every time you think about poetry, sometimes you need to just practice looking at and labelling things.

The truth is, most teens have written some bad break up poetry in their day.  Many of us have written with longing about the dreamy eyed boy that doesn’t know we exist.  Or the cheerleader at the top of the pyramid, either way.  Just become a poem doesn’t work it doesn’t mean you failed; no, you’re failure comes in not writing at all.

And this is the beauty of Poemcrazy, it is a collection of exercises that helps you put building blocks into place and to see the world through a different set of lenses.

Put (Awesome) Pen to (Canvas) Paper

Want some more fun poetry/writing inspired ideas to do with teens? Get some blank notebooks/journals and allow teens to decorate them (markers, decoupage) to be their poetry notebooks.  There are also a lot of fun ways that you can turn ordinary pens into poetic writing utensils: wrap them in friendship bracelet thread and put the occasional bead along the way, use floral tape to wrap the pen and add some flowers to the end of your pen.  In fact, a simple but awesome roll of duct tape can turn an every day pen into an inspiring work of art.

More Poetry: TPIB Poetically Speaking
Karen’s Poetry
Goodreads list of books similar to Poemcrazy