Jack Prelutsky - Author
For over 30 years, Jack Prelutsky's poetry has induced giggles, chuckles, and guffaws from children all over the world. He has written about suspender-wearing frogs, sun-sized pizzas, and eraser-eating creatures, among others. In 2006, he became the first Children's Poet Laureate of the United States.
RIF: You have a collection of more than 3,000 frog figurines and cards. Why do you find frogs so ribbit-ing?
Jack Prelutsky: I've always wanted to be a singer, but when I sing, it sounds like I have a frog in my throat. So I thought if I collected frogs, then the frog in my throat would see how nice I am and leave my throat.
RIF: Are you still crazy about frogs?
JP: Not as much as I used to be. Now I'm into watching and photographing birds. I live on an island in Washington state and I love watching the great blue herons, red wing blackbirds, and bald eagles on the island. My favorite flying birds are pelicans; they remind me of pterodactyls.
RIF: How does it feel to have the honor of being the first U.S. Children's Poet Laureate?
JP: I like it; it's like I've been elevated in stature, although I'm a short guy [at 5'8].
RIF: What do you like most about poetry?
JP: I like the way words work, the way you can weave them together like no one else has. I especially like how you can create a world in a few words.
RIF: What was your favorite poem as a child?
JP: Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. It helped me realize that poetry could be silly and fun and about an imaginary world.
RIF: You are well-known for writing silly and funny poems. How do you do it?
JP: I don't try to be funny, I just am. I used to try to write love poems and they'd always come out funny.
RIF: Where do you get ideas?
JP: From everywhere. For example, I came up with the idea for Scranimals in the middle of the night. I was eating a banana while watching a documentary on anacondas when I came up with the idea of an undiscovered animal called a bananaconda. The poem begins:
Oh sleek bananaconda
You longest long long fellow,
How sinuous and sly you are,
How slippery, how yellow.
RIF: What advice would you give to a young person who wants to write a funny poem?
JP: I'd say, don't go out of your way to be funny. Just write from your heart. Write what you know.
That being said, one way to write a funny poem is by pretending you are a reporter interviewing something silly, like a boneless chicken. Then ask the silly character normal questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how. The answers will inevitably be silly and you can use those answers to write a funny poem, like Ballad of a Boneless Chicken:
I'm a basic boneless chicken,
yes, I have no bones inside,
I'm without a trace of rib cage,
yet I hold myself with pride,
other hens appear offended
by my total lack of bones,
they discuss me impolitely
in derogatory tones.
Want to read more funny poems by Jack Prelutsky? Check out these links: