If you were to ask this elementary teacher of thirty-three years what poet has had the biggest impact on students, the thumbs up winner of light verse is Shel Silverstein. (Light verse being defined as “poetry that is playful or humorous and usually rhymed.”) Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up or Every Thing On It. Each one is full of quirks, surprise rhymes, fantastic endings, and free verse. The light verse is music to soul of most elementary students and adults.
Children love the poetry books of Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst, Bruce Lansky, Jeff Moss, and Kalli Dakoa. At first glance their poems look easy to write. Just pick a topic – any topic – from apples to zebras, and write a poem.
Oh, yes, when writing these poems, poets draw heavily from the palette of their essential tools – similes, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia. Shel Silverstein certainly did in his poetry. Of course, whether the poet is a professional or a student, it will take more than one sitting or class period to finish a polished poem – that is, one worthy of posting or publication. Although it may seem easy to create a short or even medium size poem, we know it isn’t.
Expensive gifts frequently come in small boxes, just like short gems of poetry. Many hours can be poured into the making of a short poem that sparkles. Don’t be fooled by the number of lines. Light verse, in the hands of those who love it, is a labor of love. Much time will be spent picking the right words, metaphors, and more.
All of the light verse children’s poets, mentioned above, are very good at writing light verse. You might even call what they create: lightning verse because it cracks, snaps, and pops in the minds of young students. The words of gifted children’s poets are ignited by a piece of conversation, an old photo or whatever sizzles, and they explode across the yellow paper or the well-lit monitor, shocking the poet into paying attention to the cosmic images, voices, and feelings! Words are written or typed with zest that tell a little unforgettable story or communicate with humor the joys and challenges of being a child.
Shel Silverstein was the master of his craft. One measure of Shel’s success is the number of books he has sold over the years. According to HarperCollins, his longtime publisher of record, he has sold more than 29 million hardcover books. Yes, 29 million books! Anyone poet compared positively to Shel Silverstein is in excellent company.
Do yourself a favor today, if you don’t have any of his books on your reading shelf, purchase one for your inner child so that you can laugh like a kid again.
Source by Joe Sottile