How to Write Poems by Joseph Coelho, with illustrations by Matt Robertson, is an activity book full of short prompts, clear explanations, fun examples and lots and lots of bright space to fill with poems.
It covers everything from handy techniques. such as generating word banks and boosters for when stumbling blocks arise (just how do you find inspiration to write a poem?), to breaking down and demystifying a wide range of possible poem structures, as well as a whole host of themed prompts.
Coehlo’s examples and Roberston’s dynamic, colourful illustrations make writing poems seem fun, cool and do-able. Whilst the book is full of invitations to really make it your own and write in it, I especially enjoyed all the invitations to get up out of your seat and be more active with poetry, whether that is walking the streets near where you live asking questions of what you see to find poem prompts, playing running games in the playground to get imaginative juices flowing, or collecting leaves and stones as alternative surfaces to write poems on.
How to Write Poems includes a reference to the Poem Tree in Oxfodshire, a tree in which a poem was carved in 1844 (you can find out more here). Learning about this poem reminded me of another poem, Poet’s Tree by Shel Silverstein, and it is this latter poem that features today in our Poetree Calendar.
Poet’s Tree by Shel Silverstein
Underneath the poet tree,
Come and rest awhile with me,
And watch the way the word-web weaves
Between the shady story leaves.
The branches of the poet tree
Reach from the mountains to the sea.
So come and dream, or come and climb —
Just don’t get hit by falling rhymes.
Here’s an animation of the same poem: