POET OF THE WEEK: Karla Kuskin

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.


(1932-2009, American)
[Special thanks to Sylvia Vardell for providing the biographical text from her book Poetry People: A Practical Guide to Children’s Poets]

“Poetry can be as natural and effective a form of self-expression as singing and shouting.” — Karla Kuskin

Karla Kuskin was born on July 17, 1932, in New York City. Encouraged by her parents and teachers, Kuskin began writing poetry as a young girl. She attended Antioch College and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Yale University. Her first book, Roar and More, which she both wrote and designed, developed from her senior thesis and was published in 1956.
Kuskin went on to become a prolific writer and illustrator of more than 50 works of children’s poetry, storybooks in verse, easy readers, and even nonfiction. Her many awards include American Institute of Graphic Arts Book Show awards, American Library Association Notables, International Reading Association Children’s Choice distinctions, a National Book Award nomination, and the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1979 (see her design for the award below).
Karla Kuskin’s pictures and poetry are brimming over with the experiences of children growing up in a big city. For a wonderful compilation of poems from several previous works as well as new poems, look for Moon, Have You Met My Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin. She shared further insights in her autobiographical picture book, Thoughts, Pictures, and Words.

Write About a Radish…
By Karla Kuskin

Write about a radish
Too many people write about the moon.

The night is black
The stars are small and high
The clock unwinds its ever-ticking tune
Hills gleam dimly
Distant nighthawks cry.
A radish rises in the waiting sky.

From Moon, Have You Met My Mother? by Karla Kuskin (HarperCollins Children’s Books). Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “POET OF THE WEEK: Karla Kuskin

  1. I love it when I can read all the Scholastic Pages and pretend that I am a child poet.
    And I love it even more when Amazon lets me order with 1 click… a hardcover book for $.01 with $3.99 shipping.
    I wonder if the mailman resents all these books that don’t fit in the box?
    Bless him with big tips!
    Thank you, Karla, your cat, and Butterflies!
    Jeanne Poland

  2. Pingback: Interview with poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins « Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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