“I Am…” Poems and Other Resources for National Poetry Month

This is a guest post by Megan White, Visitor Services Specialist at the Library. 

As National Poetry Month comes to a close, we wanted to share a few resources and ideas that could keep kids and teens engaged in poetry throughout the year.

Teens can check out our most recent live poetry slam, which was held at the 2019 National Book Festival and the Favorite Poems Project, developed by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky, which consists of short videos of Americans reading their favorite poems and sharing how the poems affected them. This video with Seph Rodney reading “Nick and the Candlestick,” by Sylvia Plath is a particularly powerful place to start.

Younger kids may be inspired by another former U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, whose bilingual illustrated poem, The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon, was created with input from third graders. You can find all past projects of the U.S. Poets Laureate here.

Colorful image of a young girl holding a book

Opening page from The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon

As a family, you can also use the simple “I Am…” poem form to create poetry together. Start with the simplest version, which grounds young people in their senses and helps them to pay attention to the small details that make poetry come alive. Simply complete each sentence stem, noting that the first and last lines always repeat, no matter what variation you follow.

  • I am _______________________________________________
  • I hear ______________________________________________
  • I smell ______________________________________________
  • I taste ______________________________________________
  • I touch _____________________________________________
  • I see _______________________________________________
  • I am __(repeat first line)_____­­­___________________________

Then move to a more conceptual version, such as:

  • I am ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________
  • I wonder _____________________________________________
  • I worry ______________________________________________
  • I get angry when ______________________________________
  • I understand __________________________________________
  • I hope _______________________________________________
  • I am happiest when ____________________________________
  • I love ________________________________________________
  • I am _________________________________________________

Then combine the two poems. This elevates the sensory version by including more complex thoughts and emotions, while grounding the conceptual version in concrete details.

For another twist, you can use this format for perspective taking by asking your children to write the poem as if they are someone else, or take on the perspective of an animal or some element of the natural world. You can use this last model to create one together.

  • We are ______________________________________________
  • We have fun when ____________________________________
  • We laugh when _______________________________________
  • We try to ____________________________________________
  • We get angry when ____________________________________
  • We cry when _________________________________________
  • We feel best when ____________________________________
  • We can _____________________________________________
  • We will ______________________________________________
  • We are ______________________________________________

These are deceptively flexible forms that young children can enjoy or a high schooler can use as a jumping off point for a personal manifesto or slam poem.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your creations in the comments!

One Comment

  1. cheryl best
    April 29, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Love this kind of poetry! Children need to know that their words can create beauty too. This is a marvelous form to create individual poems.

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