A Life of Poetry

An interview with
Kenn Nesbitt
Kenn Nesbitt is a children’s poet from Spokane, Washington. You’ll find his hilarious poetry in When The Teacher Isn't Looking, Revenge of the Lunch Ladies, The Aliens Have Landed at Our School!, Kids Pick the Funniest Poems, Miles of Smiles, No More Homework!, If Kids Ruled the School, Rolling in the Aisles, Dinner with Dracula, My Teacher's In Detention, and other anthologies published by Meadowbrook Press.

Q: What first got you interested in poetry?

KN: As a child, I loved reading classic children’s books such as The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. When reading Lewis Carroll's books, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, I fell in love with his nonsense poetry. Ever since then, I have been fascinated with humorous poetry, such as that of Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, and Jack Prelutsky.

Q: When did you start writing poetry?

KN: I started writing humorous children's poetry in 1993. I wrote a few poems a year for the first four years or so. Beginning in 1997, I started writing more regularly. Now I try to write one or two new poems every week.

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

KN: I can’t say that I have a single favorite poem. I like some more than others, but I couldn’t pick just one that I like better than all the rest. Among my favorites are "The People of Bleen," "The Aliens Have Landed," "Mithing Tooth," and "Talented Family."

Q: Who are your favorite poets?

KN: My current favorite poet is an unpublished writer from Spokane, Washington, named Derek Moss. Mr. Moss is very talented and prolific, and I expect he will be a widely regarded poet someday. My favorite children’s poet, without a doubt, is Jack Prelutsky.

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

KN: I have written four books (two forthcoming), and a fifth is in the works. My poems have appeared in four anthologies of funny children's poetry and in at least six school textbooks.

Readers’ Questions

Q: Do you worry more about what a poem says or how it says it?

KN: When I write, I am concerned equally about what the poem says and how it says it. Most of my poems are like rhyming jokes. They tell a story that has a funny ending. When writing a joke, the object is to make the reader laugh. I feel that in order to write a good joke that will make readers laugh, you must be concerned about both what the joke is and how it is delivered. So when writing funny poems, I think first about the funny idea the poem will convey and then about how I can write the poem to deliver that funny idea most effectively.

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