Childhood Poetics: Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Write Poetry (and How to Do It)

You need to teach your kids to write poetry. That’s right: to write, not just read, poetry. Don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Poetry gets a bad rap. Somewhere between Beowolf and T.S. Elliot’s The Wasteland, the word “poetry” became compounded with “confusing.” Sure, some poetry requires analysis and perhaps the aid of a thesaurus to understand. But you know what else is poetry? Nursery rhymes. Ad jingles. The Broadway hit musical Cats. Seriously, the lyrics to those songs are taken from poems by…guess who? T.S. Elliot! Poetry is everywhere. In fact, the human mind is naturally poetic. We use poetry to remember things. Have you ever made up a rhyme to remember where the poles face? That’s poetry. We are naturally […]

Elizabeth Brico on grammar and flexibility

Is Your Obsession With Grammar Hurting Your Writing?

First, a disclaimer. It is absolutely necessary to understand the basic tenets of grammar for the language in which you plan to write. I’m not saying you need to be able to teach it to other people…Hell, I’m not even sure that I could walk into a class right this second and competently teach grammar to other people. You do, however, need to know what you’re doing. Basic mistakes, like the infamous your/you’re or their/there/they’re errors, can really screw up what may otherwise be a decent piece of writing. If I read an improper “there,” I mentally file that story as “not very good.” After that, you pretty much need to be writing on the level of Ken Kesey in order to redeem yourself. If […]