EIF Poetry Challenge #12: The Poetry of Childhood

‘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

Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co

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.

The Challenge

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 experimentsinfiction@protonmail.com 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!

37 thoughts on “EIF Poetry Challenge #12: The Poetry of Childhood

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  1. I loved reading ’twas the night before christmas’ to my kids. I put as much emotion and excitement as I could into the poem. Favorite line:
    As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
    So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
    With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too

  2. Here is my entry:

    Incomplete memories of childhood

    Lost memories of my early childhood
    Are far now from being too clear
    Wanderings as though through a wild wood
    blinking back many a tear

    Then waking up soon with the sunrise
    A morning so brave and so bold
    I gazed slowly upon those bright skies
    And watched as the day did unfold

    I remember some scrapes in the back yard
    Wild flowers beside a brick wall
    I fell on some stones they were too hard
    I picked myself up from my fall

    i remember a dog that scared me
    Almost it seemed near to death
    I stared and felt helpless and lonely
    I struggled with shortness of breath

    I screamed and I cried
    But the dog didn’t bite
    Then I ran back inside
    And shivered with fright

    That’s all that I fear I have left
    Of the first few years of my life
    Alone now and feeling bereft
    Of a time filled with joy and with strife

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