Dear Friends and Poets,
Authors Take Action — founded by author and poet Padma Venkatraman, is organizing a community poetry project for kids. We are planning this endeavor for National Poetry Month and Earth Day, both in April.
I invite children’s poets and authors (YOU!) to create writing prompts for the project. The idea is to provide a month of daily poetry prompts on our theme. Children and classrooms will generate poems based on a new prompt every day—or choose a prompt to write in response to for Earth Day, April 22.
This year’s theme is CLIMATE.
When creating a poetry prompt, interpret this topic loosely. CLIMATE can be:
rain, snow, drought
a favorite place,
home for living things,
in the news,
To give you an example, these were some favorite prompts from my group in 2020, when WATER was the theme:
- a creepy creature (real or imagined) that lives in the water;
- photographs of specific places: Crater Lake in Oregon, Elves’ Chasm at the Grand Canyon;
- vernal ponds;
- sound clips of water;
- paintings with water elements;
- a picture of a fogbow; (https://earthsky.org/earth/what-is-a-fogbow)
- or use poetic forms such as acrostic.
(Many of you contributed prompts for my 2020 Water Poem Project, so this will sound familiar. Unfortunately, those posts were affected by a hack. Some of them exist without their graphics and others have disappeared.)
If you would like to contribute a prompt, please reply to me by leaving a comment here or by email. I will send you the #ClimatePoemProject graphic and further instructions for posting your prompt on your own website or blog.
(You’ll find the text of a model post below.)
All of the prompts will be linked to the Authors Take Action website, where we will have a CLIMATE POEM PROJECT page. Thank you! I hope many of you will join in and get involved with Authors Take Action.
Please let me know if you are interested by Friday, March 24. If you have any questions, send them along.
MODEL POST (You are welcome/encouraged to dig into climate activism more than I have done here.)
I’m participating in the Authors Take Action #ClimatePoemProject. You can find links to climate poetry prompts from your favorite children’s authors and poets here.
Let’s try one of my favorite forms: the opposite poem.
Write a two stanza poem exploring two opposing views of rain — or any climate-related opposite.
Some ideas for this poem are:
- Rain in the summer vs. rain in the winter.
- What rain feels like when you’re alone and what it feels like when you’re with a friend.
- A rainy day in the city and a rainy day in the country.
- Rain that feels comforting versus rain that feels scary.
And to help put you in a rainy mood, check out the picture book I AM THE STORM by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple or these poems about the rain “Weather” by Eve Merriam and Langston Hughes’ beautiful, “April Rain Song.”
If you’re doing the #ClimatePoemProject with a group, be sure to share or post your rough draft, read other people’s poems, and cheer for their efforts. Or leave your poem here, in the comments.
Laura Shovan is a novelist, educator, and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her award-winning children’s books include The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and the Sydney Taylor Notable A Place at the Table, written with Saadia Faruqi. She is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council and teaches for Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her latest poetry collection for kids is Welcome to Monsterville. She likes to knit, bake bread, and doodle robots.
That sounds cool, Laura. I look forward to reading the poems that come from this challenge. I’m pretty sure I spotted a vernal pool today, so I’ll have to ponder that, poem-wise. Thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks, Susan. I’m excited about the project. Vernal pools — so much life!
This sounds great, Laura. I’ll think about it when I’m more awake! Thanks for the offer!
Thanks for considering it, Linda!
Thanks for the invite, Laura. I will think about this. There are endless topics for kids to think and write about nature.
I appreciate it, Janice. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
What a cool project, Laura! Not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but after putting my thinking (snow) cap on, I came up with:
Draft a letter poem from an endangered species (ie. polar bears, etc).
To whom would this species write and what would they say?
That’s a great prompt, Bridget! I’m asking all participants to post their prompt on their own blog or website — along with the #ClimatePoemProject logo. Send me the link when you’re ready and you’ll be good to go!
Laura, thank you for the opportunity. You have explained the process well. I would like to write a prompt for the #ClimatePoemProject. Thanks!
Thanks, Denise. Let’s be in touch by email.
Laura, I love this! I will definitely be emailing you a prompt. I’ve been working on getting a tree-watering group together in anticipation of the summer’s heat… maybe I’ll come up with a prompt related to that… I’ll have to mull a little bit, but this is so exciting. I can’t wait to write poetry off of other prompts, and spend some time reveling in climate poetry. Thank you!
Thanks, Sarah. A tree watering group sounds like a wonderful project — and possible inspiration to do some kind of climate action in their own communities. Talk to you by email soon!
Thank you for this opportunity. Here’s an optional climate poem prompt:
What does the desert sound like? OR The desert sounds like…
Thanks, Patricia. I’m asking all participants to post their prompt on their own blog or website — along with the #ClimatePoemProject logo. Send me the link when you’re ready and you’ll be good to go!
Great project idea Laura! I’d like to write a prompt, here’s a rough of my prompt:
Write a poem on an endangered pollinator. Perhaps your poem will be a concrete/shape poem and include a picture of the pollinator. Visit the Xerces Society for examples of many, including butterflies, bumble bees dragonflies, and more. Looking forward to this, thanks!
Hi, Michelle. I love this idea. It’s important for kids (and adults) to recognize that we have wonderful pollinator diversity beyond honeybees. Let’s talk by email.
What a wonderful plan, Laura. I participated in your water month in 2020, and I really loved some of the writing that came out of that! <3
I did too, Laura. I’m sad that so many of the posts were affected by the GoDaddy Hack.
This is a fantastic project! The more we focus on climate, the more we focus on nature, the more we love our world, the more we want to work to save it!
Thanks, Mary Lee. I hope you’ll consider participating!
Oh, you know I am IN on this one, Laura–very cool that you’re sharing the opportunity and the project widely! Looking forward to noodling a prompt…
Hi, Heidi! I was hoping you’d find this post. Send me an email and I’ll follow up with details soon.