Playing with Words

by Meredith Costain ©

Do you like poetry? I love it!

Poetry has always been a big part of my life. I grew up in a house with lots of stories and books. We read and recited poems full of rhythm, such as ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes and ‘Tarantella’ by Hilaire Belloc – who also wrote scary ‘cautionary tales for children’. My favourite was ‘Matilda, Who Told Lies and was Burned to Death’. I loved reading that one out loud, especially to my annoying sister. And I also loved the poems of AA Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh.

I read lots of poetry at school too. My favourites came from a musty old book written by CJ Dennis, called A Book For Kids. Old CJ really knew how to have fun with words, like Triantiwontigongolope.

I started to write my own poems while riding my bike to school. Funny ones about my pets, or dramatic ones about bushfires and other disasters. I even had one published in a newspaper, which earned me lots of money!

I still write lots of poems. I like putting together words that have the same sounds at their starts or in their middles – not just at the end. Or words that mean the same thing as how they sound – like ‘crash!’ and ‘smash!’ and ‘tinkle’ and ‘fizz’.

Sometimes my poems rhyme, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I use real words, and other times I make them up. You can do that in a poem.

Sometimes I write poems when I’m feeling happy, and other times when I’m sad or worried or lonely or angry. They help me to work out exactly how I feel about something. Or someone. Especially my annoying sister. And my even more annoying brother.

What kinds of poems do you like to read and write?

You can find some great poems to read here:

The website of Australian poet, Sherryl Clark, has lots of great information about kids’ poetry – including how to write your own!

US poet Kenn Nesbitt has written heaps of poems with great titles, like ‘I taught my cat to clean my room’, ‘My brother’s not a werewolf’ and ‘The armpit of doom’.

Hundreds of poems to read and word games to play

Classic Australian poems for kids

Audio files of poems on lots of different topics and you can read some of the poems I loved as a kid here:

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