Poet: Jack Prelutsky
Born: 8 September 1940, New York, USA
Prelutsky is a writer of children’s poetry. He served as the first US Children’s Poet Laureate from 2006-08. Born in New York, USA he was still a baby when a fire killed his family, he was saved by his Uncle Charlie. He claims to have hated poetry when he was younger and after his teacher discovered his musical talents and suggest he attended The High School of Music and Art.
Prelutsky took odd jobs before becoming a writer. In the late 1960s, while singing in coffeehouses under the name of Jack Ballard he met Bob Dylan and the two became friends. Prelutsky loved to draw imaginary turtle animals and a friend encouraged him to send them to a New York publisher. He wrote poems to go with the drawings at the last minute and was amazed when the publishers wanted his poetry that took two hours and not the drawings that took six months to draw. He was 24 at the time, and the poems appeared in his first book, A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems, in 1967.
Prelutsky has authored more than 50 poetry collections, including Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep in 1976, and Something BIG Has Been Here in 1990. He has also compiled a number of children’s anthologies. He has, on the audio versions of his anthologies, set his poems to music, and often sings and plays guitar on them. Prelutsky was named the inaugural winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award in 2006. Prelutsky has gained many awards throughout his career including citations for the New York Times Book of the Years, Library of Congress Book of the year, Parents’ Choice Award, and American Library Association Notable Children’s Recording. In 2018 his poem ‘Homework! Oh, Homework!’ featured in a commercial for Apple’s iPad.
The Creature in the Classroom
It appeared inside our classroom
at a quarter after ten,
it gobbled up the blackboard,
three erasers and a pen.
It gobbled teacher’s apple
and it bopped her with the core.
“How dare you!” she responded.
“You must leave us . . . there’s the door.”
The Creature didn’t listen
but described an arabesque
as it gobbled all her pencils,
seven notebooks and her desk.
Teacher stated very calmly,
“Sir! You simply cannot stay,
I’ll report you to the principal
unless you go away!”
But the thing continued eating,
it ate paper, swallowed ink,
as it gobbled up our homework
I believe I saw it wink.
Teacher finally lost her temper.
“OUT!” she shouted at the creature.
The creature hopped beside her
and GLOPP . . . it gobbled teacher.