Archive for January 21st, 2014

January 21, 2014

Connecting to Nature Through Poetry: Brod Bagert

by Melissa Harding


Connecting to Nature Through Poetry is a segment of the blog featuring poets who inspire their readers to establish strong connections to nature and community. An appreciation of poetry and art is connected to achievement in science and success in adult life; however, there is no need to be an expert on poetry to enjoy it. Poetry is for everyone.  As Plato once said, “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history”.  

“I believe the fire of poetry, ignited in the child, will burn in the adult and pass from generation to generation” – Brod Bagert

There is a tendency among adults to look down on literature made for children. However, writing in the voice of a child, and doing it well, is far more difficult than one might imagine. Childhood is more than just pictures of rainbows and school buses; while the development of a child can be full of joy and wonder, it is also complicated and full of pathos. Writing for children does not require heavy-handed moralizing and simplistic ideas, but rather an empathy with the experience of childhood. Understanding the authentic voice of a child needs to take all of that into account. Enter Brod Bagert. Bagert wrote his first poem as a favor to his daughter, who needed to recite a poem in school. Upon realizing that there were very few poems written in a child’s voice, he decided to do it himself. Many books later, he is credited with revolutionizing the way that children’s poetry is written and taught. With a focus on teaching poetry performance in schools, he is instilling a love of poetry as both a written and oral art form in children all over the country.

While Brod writes about a number of subjects, his nature-related poems are spot on. Any science teacher can attest to the things children say about the natural world, many of them inaccurate. However, Bagert also captures the wonder that children feel when faced with nature, from caterpillars to creek beds and everything in between.

They came like dewdrops overnight
Eating every plant in sight,
Those nasty worms with legs that crawl
So creepy up the garden wall,
Green prickly fuzz to hurt and sting
Each unsuspecting living thing.
How I hate them! Oh, you know
I’d love to squish them with my toe.
But then I see past their disguise,
Someday they’ll all be butterflies.
Bagert’s poems are infused with the raw emotions of childhood, written in such a way that they allow children to relate to his words and the ideas behind them. Children love to read Brod’s poetry because it has meaning to them. “I believe the emotions of childhood are a serious matter,” he writes. “I also believe that poems are best experienced when read aloud, so I try to write poems that encourage children to perform.” This combination of understanding and wit are what makes his poems so successful, for children and adults alike.
Yesterday’s Magnolia
I walked outside this morning
And saw a strange man climbing in my tree.
How nice that he would like
To do the same fun things as me.
But when I heard his chain saw growl
The tears rushed down my face,
He was about to use it
To chop down my favorite place.
I yelled, “Wait!
Don’t cut another branch!”
Too late.
The only tree that I could climb
And now . . . there’s just a hole.
I feel so sad and angry
But I don’t know who to blame.
No matter what you do in life . . .
Nothing ever stays the same.

Read a full biography of Brod Bagert and find selected poems here.

To read about using poetry to connect children to nature, check out our blog post.

Why is poetry important to science education? Find out here.

The above photo was taken by Cory Doman.


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