I run Ninth House, a creativity school with 6- or 8-week Brooklyn-based poetry classes for children aged 10-12, as well as individualized 1-on-1 courses throughout the year.
As a practicing poet, I am driven by the unencumbered creativity of children as poets.
I believe that young children are just as capable of unpacking complex ideas in poems as adults. My pedagogy is shaped by college-level creative writing workshops, which I adapt for children as young as nine years old.
Before poetry was written for the page, it started as stories within an oral tradition. Poetry was always made to be gifted this way between people: to be spoken, to be read aloud. This is the way children are poets: they have something to say.
When a child tells me they don’t have a poem to share, I say: it can be about anything, and you can make it up. Sometimes a child will tell me “I know real poems, but this is not a real poem” and I say “This is a real poem!” - I like this idea that no matter how old something is, no matter how old or seemingly fixed a poem is, someone at some point made it up.
I guide poetry workshops with a combination of play and advanced craft. Adapted for children from the original Iowa Writers’ Workshop model, we read and discuss contemporary poetry, write in class, share work aloud, and learn how to edit drafts.