Getting Hooked on Poetry

An interview with
Dave Crawley
 
Dave Crawley is a feature reporter at KDKA-TV (CBS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Occasionally he produces a story in rhyme, in the style of Charles Osgood of “CBS Sunday Morning.” Dave’s reports can be seen on kdka.com. He recently published Dog Poems, the sequel to his popular Cat Poems book, and his poetry appears in an anthology called I Invited a Dragon to Dinner. Dave's poetry has also been featured in several Meadowbrook Press anthologies, including Peter Peter, Pizza-Eater, If Kids Ruled the School, Rolling in the Aisles, Miles of Smiles, and more. He also enjoys reading his rhymes and sharing his writing technique with school groups.


Q: What first got you interested in poetry?

DC: Friends and co-workers tried to convince me to write children’s poetry, but I never really considered it until I interviewed Jack Prelutsky for a TV story. Shortly afterward, a close friend persuaded me to attend a conference sponsored by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. From then on, I was hooked.


Q: When did you start writing poetry?

DC: I wrote my first poem in the fifth grade. Then I started writing poems for classmates in return for bites of their ice cream sandwiches. That’s the only payment my poetry earned for many years to come.


Q: Where do you get ideas for your poems?

DC: Since my job involves writing and reporting four or five TV stories a week, I have learned that I can’t wait for “inspiration” to strike. I take the same approach to writing poetry. If I’m writing school poems, for example, I make a list of humorous things that can happen in school, and then write about them. Sometimes, though, a single line will pop into my head (like “I invited a dragon to dinner”) and I’ll write a poem to go with it. It’s an example of “the tail wagging the dog.”


Q: Of all the poems you’ve written, what is your favorite?


DC:
One of my favorites is “My Hand Was in the Cookie Jar.” I also like “I Will Not Tease Rebecca Grimes,” which appears in If Kids Ruled the School and on GigglePoetry.com.


Q: Who are your favorite poets?

DC: Dr. Seuss was my inspiration growing up. The first poetry book I read was To Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Now, I would have to give the nod to Jack Prelutsky.


Q: How many books have you written/appeared in?

DC: My first book, Cat Poems (Wordsong), was published in 2005. A companion book, Dog Poems (Wordsong), came out in 2007. Thirteen of my poems appear in five Meadowbrook anthologies: If Kids Ruled the School, Rolling in the Aisles, My Teacher's in Detention, Miles of Smiles, and Peter, Peter Pizza Eater. Three poems, including the title poem, appear in I Invited a Dragon to Dinner (Puffin), and I also have a poem in Ladybug, Ladybug (Puffin).

Q: What are you working on now?

DC: I'm continuing to write poems, especially relating to silly things that happen in school. Recalling my own school days provides me with plenty of material!


Q: What has helped you the most in your writing?

DC: I belong to a children’s writers group that meets every other week. We critique each other’s work—it spurs me on to have something new each time we meet. It keeps me from getting lazy!


Q: Are there any other questions that kids often ask you?

DC: The second most frequent question is, “Where do you get your ideas?” But the most commonly asked question is, “How much money do you make with this stuff?” I answer the first—but not the second.

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