Tag you’re it! Poetry tag for teens!

When I was approached to contribute to this exciting e-book project by the great children’s Poet  Janet Wong and literary taste maker extraordinaire Sylvia Vardell  I jumped at the chance. I had heard of their first project, Poetry Tag Time and thought it an amazingly innovative idea. After I read some of the poems from that first project I knew they were on to something big!

The rules for this poetic game of tag are brilliant in their simplicity:

a poet is tagged
*the poet chooses a photo from the photo library here
*the poet writes a poem inspired by the photo
*the poet must incorporate 3 words from the poem prior to his or her poem to keep the poems connected
*the poet writes a short prose “connection” piece explaining how the poem came to be
*the poet tags another poet
*the game continues

The list of contributing poets for the P*tag (Poetry tag time for teens) reads like a “who’s who” of today’s  best poets for children including current Children’s poet laureate J. Patrick Lewis!!

And the poets are:

Arnold Adoff, Jaime Adoff, Kathi Appelt, Jeannine Atkins, Jen Bryant, Margarita Engle, Betsy Franco, Helen Frost, Lorie Ann Grover, David L. Harrison, Stephanie Hemphill, Sara Holbrook, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Paul B. Janeczko, Michele Krueger, Julie Larios, JonArno Lawson, J. Patrick Lewis, Kimberly Marcus, Heidi Mordhorst, Naomi Shihab Nye, Michael Salinger, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Sonya Sones, Charles Waters, April Halprin Wayland, Steven Withrow, Allan Wolf, Janet Wong, and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Photographs by Sylvia Vardell.

What an honor to be included among all of these wonderful poets!

In addition to this collection being just plain fun to read, this anthology could be  a great jumping off point for teachers to try this concept with their students.

Well, enough of the preamble here’s my poem , enjoy!

Reluctant Reader

(slight return)


You call me


I love to read

but where are

the good books

for me?

Where I live

there are no






They must live on the other side

of town.

I live in the real world

the real America.

You know the one

where folks are all shades

of brown

and mostly don’t have

the green

to spend on all those fancy things


gold-plated stakes


diamond crusted



Your dystopian fantasy

is my forever reality

kissing you on your

metaphorical lips.

Your fingertips have yet

to tell

my story.

*Photo: Flashlight:

This picture brought back memories of those nights of reading under the covers by flashlight. When you were so excited by a book that even darkness couldn’t separate you from the pages. That absolute exhilaration of finding that one great book that was written especially for me. Sparking the larger question of this poem, who are the me’s that “we” are writing for? And why are so many hues and truths left out of the equation?

The three connecting words are:  forever, kissing, you.


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