January 14, 2007|By Ted Kooser | Ted Kooser,Special to the Sun

Newborns begin life as natural poets, loving the sound of their own gurgles and coos. And, with the encouragement of parents and teachers, children can continue to write and enjoy poetry into their high school years and beyond. A group of elementary students in Detroit, Mich., wrote poetry on the subject of what seashells might say if they could speak to us. I was especially charmed by Tatiana Ziglar's short poem, which alludes to the way in which poets learn to be attentive to the world. The inhabitants of the Poetry Palace pay attention, and by doing so earn the stories they receive.

- Ted Kooser

"Common Janthina"

My shell said she likes the king and queen

of the Poetry Palace because they listen to her.

She tells them all the secrets of the ocean.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06. Copyright 2006 by the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. Reprinted by permission from Shimmering Stars, Vol. IV, Spring, 2006. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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