A poem a day kee kids at play, says p
WHEN Kenn Nesbitt was a kid, car rides didn’t include a Nintendo 3DS and an iPad.
“I have two brothers, and we would fight a lot in the car,” said Nesbitt, who’s 51. His dad learnt pretty quickly what would get their attention, he said.
“He would just start reciting Casey at the Bat,” Nesbitt said of the baseball poem that was written 125 years ago.
That poem and many others fascinated Nesbitt as a child, but he said he didn’t think that poetry could be a career.
He is now the author of 11 poetry collections, and this week the Poetry Foundation in Chicago named him children’s poet laureate.
“I never, never intended to be an author,” Nesbitt said this week from Spokane, Washington, where he lives with his wife and two teenage children. “Even through college, I hated writing.”
Nesbitt studied computer science at university and worked as a software developer.
But as an adult he discovered the poetry of Shel Silverstein, who wrote the popular Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Nesbitt liked Silverstein’s work, but he said the inspiration to write his own poetry came from a four-year-old.
He was out with friends and noticed how their little girl refused to eat her dinner. Later that night, while listening to a Silverstein recording of Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take the Garbage Out), he had an aha moment.
“I thought, ‘I could write a poem about a girl who wouldn’t eat her dinner’.”
got a positive reaction from friends, so he wrote another and then another.
“After 50 or 60 poems, I thought, ‘ Gosh, I should send them to a publisher,’” Nesbitt said.
He soon had three poems published in an anthology.
Nesbitt’s first book of poetry, The Aliens Have Landed, appeared in bookstores in 2001. Two years later he gave up software to write full-time.
Nesbitt said he has a simple goal in writing poetry for kids.
“I just want them to laugh,” he said. “I’m not trying to deliver a message... I want to give them something so funny that they can’t not read it.”
His themes are familiar – school, games, pets and family – with a slightly wacky twist. A recent one called Xbox, Xbox is a love poem to a video game platform.
Nesbitt posts many poems on his website, Poetry4kids.com. Visitors to the site can vote for their favourites. He said online ratings keep him humble.
“If I read a poem to a bunch of kids, they’ll all tell me they like it,” he said. “But if I post it on the website, they’ll tell me what they really think.”
In addition to writing, Nesbitt visits US schools to talk to kids about poetry. Next year he will include stops in China, South Korea and Egypt.
As poetry choos light o An “I w to con should read a before Washi
SURPRISE ENDING: Kenn Nesbitt says he never thought he would be a writer.