November 16, 2006

The Poet Laminate Becomes a Poet Laureate

Jack Prelutsky, a popular children's poet, met then-U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky in 2000.

Prelutsky said, "I'm something you're not."
"What's that?" Pinsky asked.
Prelutsky visits hundreds of schools and libraries where his poems are laminated and posted on the walls. "I'm the poet laminate."

Now, at 66, Prelutsky has been named the nation's first children's poet laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

I know that children's poetry doesn't get much respect from the "grownup" poetry world. They don't get invited to the Dodge Poetry Festival.

But my boys really loved Shel Silverstein and Prelutsky when they were new readers, and even wrote their own imitations, and for that I thank them.

He has published more than 40 books, including Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems, and has more than 1 million copies in print. The folk singer turned poet recites and sings on the audio version of his latest books.

In his 2 years as laureate, he will give speeches, recommend other poets online and, something I don't recall any laureates doing, he plans a contest to give away part of the laureate's $25,000 award. (He'll ask children to write why their school libraries need more books.)

Jack Prelutsky's web site (a work in progress as of now)

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