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Questions About Kenn

Frequently asked question about children's author Kenn Nesbitt.

Are you rich?

I’m afraid not. It’s pretty hard to get rich writing poetry. I’m more of a “starving artist.” I’m not actually starving, but I have to work pretty hard at this to support myself and my family.

Can you help me get my poems published?

I am an author, and not a publisher, editor, or literary agent, so I can’t personally help you get published. However, I can recommend the following resources:

If you have written poems that you would like to have published, click here here for a list of places where kids can get their poems published online.

If you would like to get your poems published by a traditional children’s book publisher, I recommend the following resources:

Also, for most prospective children’s poets, I recommend you read a good book on meter, such as this one:

Can you visit my school?

I visit schools all over the country, and I would love to visit your school, but in order to do so I must be invited by someone who works at the school, such as a teacher, librarian or principal.

If you would like your school to invite me to visit, please let your teacher, librarian or principal know about my website, and encourage them to visit the School Visits page for information about my assemblies, workshops and other programs.

Can you write a poem for me?

I’m sorry, but I can’t write poems on request. My schedule is always very full, and sometimes it is difficult just finding the time to write new poems to post on the website.

I recommend you read the Poetry Lessons section of the website to learn how to write your own poems.

Did you have any jobs before becoming a poet?

Yes. Before I became a poet I was a computer software developer. At the time that I wrote my first funny kid’s poem, I was working for Microsoft. I worked there for two years, from 1992-1994. After that I was self-employed, creating Internet software and other programs. Now I am a full-time poet.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Yes. I am the middle child of three boys, so I have an older brother and a younger brother. My older brother’s name is Ross and my younger brother is Danny.

Do you have any hobbies?

Not exactly. Because I have two children at home, and because I write books, manage this website, and visit schools all over the country, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies. However, I do enjoy going to the movies every once in a while when I find myself with some free time. I also enjoy cooking. But I’m not sure that cooking and going to the movies count as hobbies.

Have your poems won any awards?

My poems have not won any awards that I know of, but I won the most prestigious award in children’s poetry, the Children’s Poet Laureate award (now called the Young People’s Poet Laureate), in 2013. This award is given every two years by the Poetry Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting poetry in American life.

I’m writing a report about Kenn Nesbitt. Where can I find biographical information?

You can find biographical information about me on my Biography page. You can also find links to several interviews with Kenn Nesbitt in the links section. If you have any questions that are not answered there, please feel free to send me and email and I will be happy to answer whatever other questions you might have.

What is your favorite poem that you have written?

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a favorite poem. I have written so many hundreds of poems that it would be impossible to pick just one as my favorite.

I do like some poems more than others, though. For example, while most kids seem to like my poems that involve bodily functions, such as Swimming Ool, I tend to prefer poems that are more imaginative and impossible, such as I Dreamed I Was Riding a Zebra, and tongue twisters such as Shelley Sellers.

What was your greatest influence to begin writing children’s poetry and books?

My first children’s poem — Scrawny Tawny Skinner — was written in 1994 after having dinner with a friend whose 4-year-old daughter did everything she could to get out of eating her dinner. That evening, after hearing a recording of Shel Silverstein reading his poem “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,” I decided to try my hand at writing a poem like that.

Later I was influenced to keep writing when I read Jack Prelutsky’s book Something Big Has Been Here. I was so impressed by his poetry that I decided to try to become equally skilled and writing funny poems.

I have also been influenced by the works of Ogden Nash, Dennis Lee, Bruce Lansky, and many other humorous poets who write for children.

Where did you go to school?

I went to John Muir Elementary School in Fresno, California from Kindergarten through third grade. For fourth through sixth grades I attended Kirk Elementary School, also in Fresno.

In 1973 my family moved to San Diego, California, where I attended Pacific Beach Junior High School, followed by Mission Bay High School and La Jolla High School.

I took classes at San Diego Community Colleges before attending National University, where I majored in Computer Science.

Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas for poems come from many different places, including:

  • Things I see around me
  • Things that happen to me
  • Places I go
  • Things I like
  • Things I don’t like
  • Things from my imagination

If you would like to see how you can come up with your own ideas for poems, try reading some of the poetry-writing lessons on this site.

Which book is this poem from?

Not all of the poems on this website have appeared in books, and many of them never will. I post poems to the website as I write them. It takes a long time to publish a book, so it may be a couple of years before a given poem appears in a book.

If a poem on the website has been published in a book, the book title — and a link to more information about the book — will appear right below the poem. If there is no such link, that means the poem has not yet been published.

If you need a poem for a recitation contest, but the poem must have been published in a book, please have a look at the Books section of my website for more information about my books, including online ordering.

Why do you write poetry?

I guess I have this strange notion that anyone can change the world if they really want to. Even you. Even me.

I know it always makes me feel good when I read a funny poem or hear a funny song. So, in my own small way, I’m trying to do my part to help people laugh, and just maybe make the world a happier place.