Let’s Talk Poetry: Children’s Poet Laureate

July 28, 2013

Neil Carpathios

Contributing Columnist

Many people know that every year a professional and accomplished poet is selected to be the ambassador of poetry for our country. The title given is Poet Laureate of the United States. But how many of us knew that recently—four years ago, to be exact—a new annual poetry position was created dedicated to children’s poetry?

The Poetry Foundation, an organization that promotes poetry through publications, public programs, and various awards, created the post of Children’s Poet Laureate to “raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.” This year’s Children’s Poet Laureate has just been chosen, and his name is Ken Nesbitt.

Ken Nesbitt worked for many years as a computer programmer, but found himself writing poems in the middle of the night when he was restless. The poems tended to be silly, humorous, and wildly imaginative—perhaps drawing inspiration from the dream hours and mindscapes of sleeplessness. Eventually, he would fill many books with these children’s poems and gain a devoted following of readers. He states that he wants “to get kids excited about reading and have as much fun with books as is humanly possible.” He goes on to say that, “children’s poetry can distill an idea or an emotion into a short and memorable package that can broaden a child’s perspective on the world.”

Here are two of his poems:

I Think I’m Related to Bigfoot

I think I’m related to Bigfoot,

though nothing has ever been proved.

I sort of suspect he’s a cousin,

just seven or eight times removed.

It’s not that I’m apelike or hairy.

It isn’t the size of my feet.

It’s more on account of my family.

We’re all fairly far from petite.

My sister is kind of a Bigmouth.

My brother could go by Bigsmelly.

My mother is known for her Bighair.

My father? You guessed it: Bigbelly.

And as for myself, I’m attractive.

You might even call me a cutie,

except for one obvious feature…

my family all call me Bigbootie.

Swimming Ool

Swimming in the swimming pool

is where I like to “B,”

wearing underwater goggles

so that I can “C.”

Yesterday, before I swam,

I drank a cup of “T.”

Now the pool’s a “swimming ool”

Because I took a “P.”

If you are looking for some fun children’s poetry, check out more of Ken Nesbitt’s work. It is sure to put a smile on a young person’s face.

Address poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).