Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 2, 2011

Gift Tag: Poems for the Holidays

It’s the season in which we think of gifts and try to remember that some can be light enough to slip in a pocket, pure pleasure to track down and pass along. Gift Tag is a digital collection brought together in such a spirit, compiled by Sylvia Vardell, who keeps track of just about everything you need to know about poetry for children and teens (click on her link if you don’t  believe me), and poet Janet Wong (have I ever worked with an editor who’s made me laugh so much? No.)

We were asked to write very short poems, suitable for appearing on small screens, perhaps for people with short amounts of time to read. The poems were based on photographs taken by Sylvia which appear in the collection before the poem. My favorite holiday rituals include making wreaths and baking cookies, so I chose this picture:

And I wrote this poem:


Sift sugar.

Squish butter.

Stir batter.

Shape spheres.

Sprinkle cinnamon.

Set dough on sheets

to swell in the oven.

Smell goodness.

Share sweetness.

We hope readers will be inspired to write their own poems, and teachers will organize similiar games of poetry tag. You can click on this link to learn more about the collection with wonderful short work by Jen Bryant, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Margarita Engle, Douglas Florian, Helen Frost, Joan Bransfield Graham, Lorie Ann Grover, Avis Harley, David L. Harrison, Sara Holbrook, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Bobbi Katz, Julie Larios, J. Patrick Lewis, Pat Mora, Ann Whitford Paul, Laura Purdie Salas, Michael Salinger, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Charles Waters, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, Robert Weinstock, Steven Withrow, Allan Wolf, Janet Wong and Jane Yolen. Maybe it will be a gift to yourself.

For more Poetry Friday links, please visit Carol’s Corner.


  1. Oh, I love your poem! It brings up so much cookie making joy. And what a great idea…though I was looking to see if there were real gift tags with your poems on them. Oh yeah, I would buy them right up!

  2. Thanks, Lorraine. Gift tags with poems — that does sound cool. Though that would be pretty concise. How many words can fit on a tag? I think I’d want a bit more elbow room, but something to consider.

  3. Mmmmm, I smelled this yummy poem all the way from Virginia. Haven’t made those round cookies in awhile (Russian Tea Cakes? Mexican Wedding Cakes?).

    • Hi, Jama, I’m amazed you can smell anything else from your fragrant kitchen. I’m not sure about those cookies, except we can be sure of lots of butter and sugar, and maybe that’s all we need to know. Though I might want to shake on a bit of cinnamon, or add a few almonds…

  4. Thanks for the lovely nod, Jeannine, and your wonderfully delicious poem. I think kids will love performing it with pantomime gestures, too.

    As it happens, I took that photo at a marzipan shop in Germany this summer! So, that is actually handmade marzipan balls. Yum!

    • Marzipan! No wonder my wandering eye stopped there. Yum is right. Almond paste beats even butter. I guess because they fill most of the frame in a pine tree shape I saw them as the size of cookies I’ve rolled before flattening. Good thing we believe in what’s in the eyes of the beholder.

  5. I have such memories of cookies like this that my mom made. (no cinnamon in them, but otherwise the same)!!

    I LOVE Gift Tag and have shared it (and Poetry Tag Time) with my fourth graders via the Kindle app on our 2 iPods and on our new classroom Kindle Touch!

    • My mom was not much of a cookie baker, but 4-H turned me into one. Very satisfying to make rows of circles that can then sparkle or shine. More obedient, often, than words! And they smell better. And I haven’t even gotten to eating.

      Mary Lee, you are the coolest teacher. I wish I could peek at you and the fourth graders peeking at poems!

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