When I was young, I wanted to write. I wish I’d found a book like Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher (HarperCollins, 2002). In this book, Fletcher writes for kids, directly focusing on what poetry is and what young writers can do to learn to write it. I loved his basic approach to teaching writing as finding the “spark” inside of you and then nurturing it. I’ll talk briefly about these two sections in his book.
The first section, called “Lighting the Spark,” gives ideas about what to write about. Fletcher shares personal examples of how poetry are “emotional x-rays,” images of familiar and loved people, places, or things, and other places to seek out inspiration. The personal stories and children’s poetry examples are the best part of this section.
From this beginning, Fletcher goes on to help budding writers learn how to keep the interest going. He talks about revision, form on the page, word choice (“wordplay,” in his words), and ideas about how to improve poems that don’t seem right. He also closes with ideas of what to do with poetry once it is done.
I especially love that his suggestions for use do not stem right back to hoping to get published! It’s true that all young writers hope to be published; but that chance is slim and I think emphasis on the process and sharing with loved ones is certainly what is important.
I picked this book up for April’s poetry month. I am delighted to see that Fletcher has also written three other books about writing. This is what I needed as a kid. I hope that sharing my thoughts now help the kid (like I was) find what he or she is looking for.