For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking some time off from designing. I started taking a poetry class at the end of January, and I’ve enjoyed shifting my creative focus for a bit. I never in my life thought the words “I’m taking a poetry class” would come out of my mouth. But when I started writing a story for Falafel the Llama last spring, I realized that I really enjoy writing in rhyme. I loved Shel Silverstein when I was younger–so much so that I made my own handbound book of poems and illustrations. But for some reason, I completely lost interest in poetry after elementary school. It wasn’t until I started creating stuffed characters who needed stories that poetry (and writing in general) really piqued my interest again.
When I was writing Falafel’s Garden, I only knew how to write in one type of meter–and I wasn’t even sure which meter that was until working with my editor, Renée LaTulippe. So when I found out she had a course on writing children’s poetry, I jumped at the chance to enroll in her winter session. Sadly, the course is almost over. But a few weeks ago, Renée informed my class about an upcoming annual children’s poetry competition, Madness! Poetry, and recommended we enter. The tournament, created by Ed DeCaria at ThinkKidThink!, is similar to March Madness. The game involves 64 poets, or “authletes,” who go head-to-head and write children’s poems that include specific assigned words.
I was selected to participate and received my first word, “curlicues,” Sunday evening. With only 36 hours to submit my poem, I got right to work coming up with ideas. The first thought that came to mind was curly-haired guinea pigs–specifically the ones with long bangs who wander around aimlessly. But then I started thinking about curlicues in scrollwork, which made me think of woodwork and beavers. Since I recently made a new plush character, Chompers the Beaver, beavers were the winning rodents. Perhaps I’ll revisit blind guinea pigs at another time!
For round one, I’m going head-to-head with the talented Gayle Krause, whose assigned word was “fiasco.” You can read my poem about Chompers the Beaver as well as Gayle’s poem right here! You can read the poems on mobile but will need to log in with Facebook on a desktop in order to vote. Polls close at 7 pm EST on Thursday, March 9!
++March 9 1:40 pm EST: Voting on mobile devices has been enabled.++