Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Poetry Matters

My Beloved Book
One of my earliest childhood memories is of me at home "reading" and chanting along to a record of a short rhyming picture book. The book, “Over in the Meadow,” illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats and based on the original version by Olive A. Wadsworth, was a gift from my grandparents and uncle. It begins: “Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the sun, lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one…” I don't know what happened to the record, but I still have that much loved book. At its simplest, it’s a 391-word counting poem that showcases meadow animal mothers and their babies, but to me it’s much more. This tiny gem of poetry tapped on my heart and my mind beginning my love of rhythm and rhyme. That led to a love of stories and poems and prompted my interest in reading, and that grew into my interest in writing my own stories and poetry.  

April is National Poetry Month and this seemed like a good opportunity to think about poetry’s influence in our reading or writing lives. I’m sure that some of us read and/or write a great deal of poetry, while others of us may read or write poetry a little or not at all. Whether or not you are a current fan of poetry, though, I bet you can remember a favorite lullaby, prayer, schoolyard chant, campfire song, story in verse, nursery rhyme, picture book, or poetry collection – some tiny gem of poetry that a caring grown-up or an older sibling introduced to you that tapped on your heart and your mind, that you invited in and you have kept with you for all these years, and as it turns out, is more than a tiny gem of poetry because it is partially responsible for inspiring you to love rhythm and rhyme, or reading and stories, or writing and storytelling. What tiny gem of poetry inspired you when you were young?

If you’d like to know more about National Poetry Month, click here and celebrate poetry!  

Tamera Will Wissinger reads and writes poetry and stories for children. Her novel in verse, tentatively titled GOING FISHING, will arrive from Houghton Mifflin in Spring 2013. Visit Tamera at: 


  1. Congratulations on your forthcoming verse novel! I am a huge fan of poetry and can remember so vividly my father reading to my Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out." I invite you to join in Poetry Friday roundup fun that happens all over the Kidlitosphere on Fridays. Your post would be a perfect addition for today! Google Heidi Mordhorst My Juicy Little Universe to find today's blog.

    1. Hi Irene,

      Thanks for sharing your memory of your father reading “Sarah Cynthia Sylva Stout.” What a wonderful recollection. Thanks also for your good wishes on my novel and your invitation to join in Poetry Friday. I’ll find Heidi & see what happens.

  2. Let me try this again. Blogger chewed up my first comment, ugh!

    I know Shakespeare is a playright, but his words, conveying his emotion had such a lyrical style that up to this day I still read Romeo & Juliet at least once a year! :)

    1. Hi Jack,

      I think Shakespeare is a playwright and a poet – he does have an elegant style. It’s great that you enjoy Romeo & Juliet so much that you read it no less than annually. Thanks for posting what you love.

  3. Two words, Tamera: Shel Silverstein.


    Great post!

  4. Agreed. Poetry definitely does matter. I am always in awe of those who can write poetry. So much emotion in so few words.

  5. Thanks Liz. It is amazing how much poets can convey with such an economy of words.