Qwikpick Instant Poetry Contest

qwkcovertiny1.jpgIn my book, The Qwikpick Adventure Society, the three kid heroes find a lot of odd ways to fight off boredom — origami contests, listening to 70s music, playing Penny Basketball, eating expired beef jerky and, yes, writing poetry about the smell of the sludge fountain at the sewage treatment plant.This last item, I’ve discovered, is a great hook for getting kids excited about my book and poetry, too.Some might turn up their noses at my methods, but I’ve gotten kids shouting, screaming and generally going nuts for poetry. As you can see in these two videos featuring clips from a library reading and a school visit: The Short Version. The Longer Version.

I call it the Qwikpick Instant Poetry Contest. First I read the appropriate, stinky excerpt from my book….Excerpt of the excerpt:

“Every breath was like swallowing poison. It was like there was a poop mist and every time you inhaled, you let more and more into your lungs and eventually you’d drown in it.

We held our noses, but it came in through our mouths!

The problem with typing this up is that you won’t be able to smell what we smelled. However, Marilla had a great idea about how to better record the smell: poetry. She said that poets can make a picture with words, so maybe we can make a smell with words.”

poet.jpgThen I challenge the kids to make a smell with words by writing their own poem entitled “The Worst Thing I Ever Smelled.” I give them only about two or three minutes and offer a highly desirable Qwikpick T-Shirt as the prize.

It’s all so gross and they’re in such a hurry that most of them forget to whine that they can’t write a poem. As you’ll see they CAN write poems. Sometimes really good ones. Sometimes gross ones. And sometimes both. (The spelling? Not so much.)


That last one, in case you can’t read it, is “cow manure smells like poop smoothie.” True, that is revolting, but it’s also an impression combination of words that vividly describes the subject. Recently, a kid won a T-shirt for just two words: “sewage cobbler.” Hard to say what it means, but he definitely made a smell with words.

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