A true original's poetry

Author, Author

October 27, 1999|By Randi Kest

It may be hard to believe children's author Shel Silverstein was unfamiliar with the great poets of his time when he began creating his zany kid classics, but it's true. He said he considered this lack of influence luck because it enabled him to develop his very own style.

Born in Chicago in 1932, Silverstein showed a talent for drawing and verse early on. During his service in the U.S. Armed Forces, he drew cartoons for the Pacific Stars and Stripes. He also dabbled in music and playwriting. In 1980, he produced a folk song album, and his play "The Lady and the Tiger" was produced at the annual festival of one act plays at Ensemble Studio Theater.

What he's best known for, though, are his brilliant poems and stories for children; the most popular of which is "The Giving Tree." Others include "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "Falling Up" and "The Missing Piece." Although Silverstein's books are written for children, all ages can appreciate them. Perhaps that's because he developed his own method for poetry.

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