I play cards with a few friends and when it’s Laurie’s turn to deal she always says, “Everybody loves blackjack.” Well, everybody loves haiku, too. Any kid can count out seventeen syllables (5-7-5) and I quickly take away the demands of traditional haiku (the frog, the pond, the inevitable moon) and ask them to write about what’s on their minds. Here’s a beauty from a 6th grader:
That sweater I bought
her, crumpled in the back of
Bobby’s red Corvette.
It’s also fun to take line one from Sam’s haiku, line two from Juan’s, and line three from Victoria’s. These collaborations are usually great surrealistic fun (they rarely make “sense”) and they suggest to young poets that writing might not be such a lonely occupation after all (the blank page, the crumpled drafts, the cold cup of coffee).
Biography of Ron Koertge (pronounced KUR-chee): Koertge is a long-time resident of Pasadena, a former teacher at PCC and a current member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program for kids’ writers. Turned onto poetry at the U. of A. by Gerry Locklin, he’s never stopped writing and publishing poems (FEVER, Red Hen Press 2008). He is also the author of a series of award-winning novels for young adults. An e-trip to the website of Candlewick Press will tell you more about that.