‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse…’
These are the opening lines of ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas‘ written by Clement C. Moore in 1823: a true children’s classic Christmas story told in verse.
Childhood is (or certainly should be) a magical time. And Christmas (for those who celebrate) can be one of the most magical parts of childhood. For this week’s Christmas/festive challenge, I want to explore the poetry of childhood.
Children and poetry
Children have an automatic connection to poetry. It’s no coincidence that some of the most popular children’s stories are told in verse. Rhyme schemes and regular metre make stories easier to remember, even for very young children who might not understand the meaning of the words. I think there’s also a childish delight in hearing this type of verse. One of my own childrens’ favourite stories is ‘The Gruffalo,’ which is told in simple rhymes from start to finish. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s Julia Donaldson’s description of the Gruffalo:
He has knobbly knees and turned out toes
and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose:
His eyes are orange, his tongue is black
he has purple prickles all over his back!
Even without Axel Scheffler’s wonderful illustrations, you get the picture, painted by these simple yet dramatic words.
As a child, one of my favourite poems was ‘The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo’ by Edward Lear. Read the opening lines and I challenge you not to read further:
On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò...
Of course there are many other fine examples of the poetry of childhood, and I’m sure you have your own personal favourites.
For this EIF Christmas Challenge, I want you to write a poem of childhood. You may interpret this how you please: a nursery rhyme intended for children, a poem about your experience of childhood, or if you are a child, simply write about what inspires you most. As this challenge is open to children, please keep your poem family friendly. If you are under 18 and wish to enter, please tell us your age so we can take this into account when judging. If we receive enough entries from children, these will be judged separately from the adult entries.
How to enter
I want the challenge to be open to all, so you may enter in any of the following ways:
- Write a blog post featuring your poem and link back to this post. You can also include the tag ‘EIF Poetry Challenge.’
- Enter your poem in the comments below.
- Enter via email to firstname.lastname@example.org using subject line ‘EIF Poetry Challenge.’
- Enter via Twitter tagging @Experimentsinfc.
- Enter via Instagram tagging @experimentsinfiction.
This week’s challenge will be judged by twice-victorious Nick Reeves, who won the Free Verse Challenge with his poem ‘A Loose Tally.’ Deadline for entries is midnight on 22 December. Results to be announced as soon as possible after that time.
May the Muse be with you!