Q: Why do you write poetry for children?
A: When I was a kid, I loved poetry; especially silly, nonsensical poetry. As an adult I discovered I had a talent for writing the sort of funny poetry I enjoyed so much as a child. Now I can share with kids that same pleasure I discovered when I was in elementary school.
Q: Where do you get ideas for such hilarious poems?
A: I'd like to say that my ideas come from someplace mysterious and secret where only poets can find them, but the truth is that ideas are all around us constantly. We just have to look. For example, right at this moment, I am in a room with a mirror, a telephone, a refrigerator, a wastebasket, a pen, an alarm clock, and several other things around me.
To come up with a funny idea, I just pick something and then ask myself "what's funny about that?" Let's take the mirror as an example. What might be funny about a mirror? It might be funny if I bought this mirror just today, but was so unhappy with the way I looked that I returned it for a refund. Or it might be funny if I thought I was the most handsome person on the planet until my reflection cracked the mirror. Or perhaps I might re-imagine the conversation between the evil queen and her mirror from the story Snow White.
And those are just three ideas from one object. If I came up with five ideas for each object in the room, I'd have a hundred ideas or more. The hard part is trying to pick the funniest ones from such a long list.
Q: Your bio on the cover of "When the Teacher Isn't Looking" says that you’re from the fourteenth dimension. What planet are you from, really?
A: I'm from the Planet Mirth. (It's just like the Planet Earth, only sillier.)
Q: How did you get started in the poetry business?
A: Isn't "poetry business" an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence?" Just wondering.
Actually, my poetry began as a hobby. Two or three times a year I would dash off a new silly poem just for fun. One day I realized that if I set my mind to it I could probably write an entire book of poems. So instead of two or three poems a year, I started writing two or three poems a week. Since then I have written six collections of poetry, and had my poems published in dozens of anthologies, magazines and school textbooks. It's amazing what you can do if you just make up your mind to do it.
Q: What is your favorite topic to write about?
I have two favorite subjects. The first is things that are obviously impossible and self-contradictory. In other words, I like to write poems that are the verbal equivalent of M.C. Escher optical illusion. The other is food. Maybe it says something about my personality, but I never get tired of writing poems about pizza, soup, chocolate, peanut butter, vegetables, noodles, hot peppers, and every other kind of food I can think of.
Q: Why do you visit schools?
A: Writing books for children is fun, but it doesn't compare with the joy of sharing poetry with kids in person. For me, visiting schools is a way to show children just how much fun they can have with a book, and just how easy writing can be. Seeing kids get excited about my books is really the best reward there is.
Q: What makes a good poem?
A: In my opinion, a good poem always makes you feel something. A great poem can make you smile and cry at the same time. I hope to write poems like that someday.
Read Kenn's funny poetry at www.GigglePoetry.com
If you'd like to invite Kenn to your school, click here!
4/7/2006 12:14:14 PM