Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Poetry Challenge

Spring has arrived and summer is on the way here in Illinois. Children don’t have to bundle up in boots, gloves and heavy coats to go outside with their friends. The playground beckons.

Sometimes we are nostalgic about playgrounds, as in the poem below:

The Playground

It happens every time.
I enter a playground
as if walking on hallowed ground.
Birds chirp, boys spring
from the jungle gym.
Little girls swing
like a fast spinning top.
Children go down
the slide in magnetic
attention, the joy
of the moment
their only thought.

If only I could
re-enter that world,
emerge anew
and let my past go.
I need to listen to the whispers
of yesterday’s ghosts,
let myself be tackled,
play freeze tag on the lawn.

With one big whoooosh
I could spring
into the frenzy of youth,
and remember how to dream

~ Caroline Johnson

From Where the Street Ends A Poetry Chaptbook, Poetry by Caroline Johnson, Paintings by Darlene Norton (Jupiter Publishing, 2010), p. 19. © Caroline Johnson. Used by permission of the author.

A less nostalgic look at a playground, more specifically at a boy on a swing, is “Playground” by Adrian Mitchell. The poem was written during the invasion of Iraq, so the boy may be a boy in a war zone. It is also possible to imagine that the child is a homeless boy in North America. The poem is posted at

Frank O’Hara looked back on the playground of his childhood in “Autobiographia Literaria,” another poem lacking in nostalgia. See

You can find two playground poems for children at Another children’s poem, “The Dragon on the Playground” has been posted at

May Challenge

The challenge for May is to write a playground poem. Your poem can be literal or metaphoric (or both). You may reflect your experience as a child on the playground or share observations/reflections as you watch children play. You may want to focus on just one piece of play equipment, such as the slide, swing or sandbox. Visit a playground—literally or in your imagination—and let a poem emerge.

You may write in free verse or in a form; if you write in a form, please specify the form used. Specify if your poem is primarily for children or for adults. The winning poem or poems will be published on this blog.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send your poem to wildamorris [at] ameritech [dot] net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for [dot], and don’t leave any spaces). Be sure provide your e-mail address. Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog, if it is a winner. The deadline is January 15. Copyright on poems is retained by their authors.

© 2011 Wilda Morris