POET OF THE WEEK: Aileen Fisher

Each week we will briefly introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) a poet whose work is enjoyed by children and/or teens. We will start with the winners of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children before moving on to other poets, past and present. Some poets you will encounter here are already very familiar and popular; others are less widely known yet their poems deserve to be shared and remembered. Links within the profiles will take you to additional information about the poet.

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WEEK 2

AILEEN FISHER
(1906-2002, American)
[With many thanks to Lee Bennett Hopkins and Sylvia Vardell for their words]
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Photo by Marty Caivano

On September 9, 1906, Aileen Fisher was born in Iron River, a small mining town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and died in 2002 at age 96. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1927 from the University of Missouri. She lived in Boulder, Colorado all of her adult life, and her interests included woodworking, hiking, and mountain climbing. During her career she worked as director of the Women’s National Journalistic Register in Chicago from 1928-31; a research assistant for the Labor Bureau of the Middle West in Chicago, 1931-32, and then as a freelance writer beginning in 1932.

Fisher was an award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books, including poetry, plays, short stories, picture books, and biographies. She was the second winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1978.
For a more recent compilation of some of Fisher’s most popular poems, look for I Heard a Bluebird Sing (Boyds Mills Press, 2002). This volume features 41 Fisher poems chosen by children, along with excerpts of interviews with and articles by Fisher about her life and her work. Her simplicity and directness shine through these poems, often reflecting a childlike point of view about the natural world.
In an interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins, Fisher noted, “Poetry is a rhythmical piece of writing that leaves the reader feeling that life is a little richer than before, a little more full of wonder, beauty, or just plain delight.”
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Open House
By Aileen Fisher

If I were a tree
I’d want to see
a bird with a song
on a branch of me.

I’d want a quick
little squirrel to run
up and down
and around, for fun.

I’d want the cub
of a bear to call,
and a porcupine, big,
and a tree toad, small.

I’d want a katydid
out of sight
on one of my leaves
to sing at night.

And down by my roots
I’d want a mouse
with six little mouselings
in her house.

From In the Woods, In the Meadow, In the Sky by Aileen Fisher (Charles Scribner’s Sons). Copyright © 1965 by Aileen Fisher.

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2 thoughts on “POET OF THE WEEK: Aileen Fisher

  1. Yes! A cat with lantern eyes, a raindrop as big as a ladybug…we have been enjoying Aileen Fisher’s lovely, childlike point of view in her poems since our daughters (now in their twenties!) were small. Thanks for sharing her with us again.

  2. I was just re-reading Do Rabbits Have Christmas? recently. You really captured her in “Her simplicity and directness shine through these poems, often reflecting a childlike point of view about the natural world.” So true! Now I’m off to expand my Aileen Fisher library:>)

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