Living Out Your Dreams

An interview with
Darren Sardelli
 
Darren Sardelli (a.k.a. “The Funniest Poet in School”) is an award-winning poet and children's book author. He loves to entertain people with his funny poetry and humorous stories. Darren teaches poetry classes in Smithtown, NY, visits schools throughout the year, and performs his funny poetry in libraries, hospitals, and bookstores. Aside from writing, Darren coaches high-school ice hockey, plays sports, and loves to travel. His poems are featured in Dinosaur Poems (Scholastic, UK), Read Me Out Loud! (Pan Macmillan, UK), Rolling in the Aisles (Meadowbrook Press USA), Dinner with Dracula (Meadowbrook), My Teacher's In Detention (Meadowbrook), Peter, Peter, Pizza-Eater (Meadowbrook), Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Tot (Meadowbrook), I Hope I Don’t Strike Out! (Meadowbrook), and BUSES TO BOOKS (ABDO Publishing, USA).

Q: When did you start writing poetry?

DS: Before the age of 20, I wasn’t a big fan of poetry. In fact, I wasn’t a big fan of reading and writing, either. English was always one of my worst subjects, and I disliked doing homework. Even though I didn’t like these things, I still worked hard! I completed all my assignments, studied hard for all my tests, and always handed in my homework on time. When I was a junior in college, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. For some strange reason, writing children’s books popped into my head. I got excited about this idea and truly thought it would be a fun and exciting career for me. That night, I had a dream that inspired me to start writing. Since then, I have written over 300 poems and have visited more than 100 schools. I guess I’m living proof that dreams do come true!

Q: Why do you write poetry?

DS: Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss are the two main reasons why I started writing poetry. I used to think poetry was dull and boring, but when I started reading their books, I discovered that poetry could be fun and exciting. Once I started writing, I quickly developed a passion for it. I love the challenge of writing funny, rhyming poetry. I also enjoy seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they read my poems. Whenever people smile, giggle, or laugh after reading or hearing my poetry, I feel as though I am making a positive difference in the world. To make a long story short, that’s why I write poetry!

Q: Do you write anything other than poetry?

DS: Absolutely! I think it’s extremely important for all writers to explore other kinds of writing. Besides poetry, I write short stories, song lyrics, screenplays, young adult fiction, children’s picture books (rhyming and non-rhyming), and TV commercials. Although poetry is one way to express yourself, I encourage every writer to step out of his or her comfort zone and try new things!

Q: Has anyone ever inspired you to write a poem?

DS: I have been inspired by many people, but one person definitely stands out from the rest. This person stood up for what he believed in and never gave up. He is a true inspiration to people all around the world! This is the poem that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to write:

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Dr. Martin Luther King
    did a real courageous thing.
    He helped people reach new heights
    when he fought for civil rights.
    He protested unfair laws.
    He helped people see their flaws.
    Martin never used his fists.
    He just simply used his wits.
    In his speech, I Have a Dream,
    he said we should be a team.
    Martin said we wouldn’t win
    if we judge by race or skin.
    People cheered for Dr. King
    as he yelled, “Let Freedom Ring!”
    Please remember this man’s name.
    This man showed us we’re the same.

    Copyright © 2005 Darren Sardelli

Q: What was your most embarrassing moment at the schools you visited?

DS: Luckily, I have never had an embarrassing moment during a school visit, but I have seen embarrassing things happen to teachers and principals! Last year, I was doing an assembly for first-, second-, and third-graders in the gym. The students were seated on the gym floor, and the teachers were sitting on folding chairs around the students. In the middle of my assembly, I read one of my poems and watched the crowd break into immediate laughter. One of the teachers laughed so hard, she lost her balance, fell off her chair, and spilled coffee all over the assistant principal. The assistant principal wasn’t amused by this embarrassing moment, but the students loved it!

Q: Of all the poems you have written, which is your favorite?

DS: It’s hard to choose one, but here is one of my poems that I really, really, really like:

    A Colorful Character

    My left leg is silver.
    My right leg is blue.
    My shoulders are yellow
    and lavender too.

    My right arm is turquoise.
    My left arm is red.
    I have specks of purple
    and pink on my head.

    My ankles are golden.
    My belly is black.
    My fingers are green
    like my nose and my back.

    My elbows are orange.
    My forehead is tan.
    I shouldn’t have thrown
    all this paint at my fan.

    Copyright © 2006 Darren Sardelli

Q: What are you working on now?

DS: I’m working on two books that I’m really excited about! One book is called The Day It Rained Up. This humorous book of poetry contains 25 of my most popular poems that students and educators have raved about. It makes poetry and learning fun for people of all ages. Another book I’m currently working on is called I Made My Teacher Disappear. This book contains 25 humorous school poems that show the funny side of school. My goal is to make this book of school poems stand out from the rest! Here is one school poem that will appear in my upcoming book:

    Cupid’s Arrow

    When I was in the lunchroom,
    eating cheery pie,
    Cupid shot an arrow
    that hit me in the thigh.

    I looked up at the ceiling
    and saw him with his bow.
    He took a second arrow
    and shot me in the toe.

    Another arrow struck me
    and knocked me off my seat.
    My body felt a tingle,
    which made me shake my feet.

    I landed on an apple.
    The apple looked so cute.
    I simply cannot help it,
    I’m now in love with FRUIT!

    Copyright © 2005 Darren Sardelli

Q: Do you have any advice for young writers?

DS: Yes! Even if you don’t like writing, WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS! If you start writing down your ideas now, it will give you a major advantage in life. Whether it’s an idea for a poem, book, movie, business, invention, painting, TV show, design, or anything else, write it down so you can build on the idea! Always remember that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE and YOU CAN DO AMAZING THINGS WITH YOUR IDEAS! When I was a junior in college, an idea popped into my head: writing children’s books. It took me a while to make my idea become a reality, but I did it!

IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!

A few more pieces of advice for everyone:

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE CHANCES!

ALWAYS WORK HARD FOR THE THINGS YOU WANT!

NEVER GIVE UP!

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