Art of the Week: Shel Silverstein’s playfully absurd poems urge us to tap into our creativity

Put Something In from Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic. Credit: Britannica, Shel Silverstein

By Kaitlyn Scanlon, Alliance Intern from Oregon State University ’26

According to famed poet Shel Silverstein, anything is possible when you get a little silly, try something new, and express yourself in a way that works for you. Put Something In encourages kids to think wacky and wild, to listen to their sillier creative thoughts and create for the simple fun of it. It strongly emphasizes the importance of not placing limits on creativity, a message that remains relevant to this day. It nudges kids of all ages to embrace the silliness that naturally comes to them, to never let go of it even as they physically leave their childhood behind. 

This fun, nonsensical poem is not the only work of Silverstein’s that explores the idea of creating for the sake of creating. “When I Am Gone” from his book Every Thing on It proposes the idea that when he is gone (which sadly he is), when the kids he writes to grow up, they can be the new writers, dreamers, and creators they grew up adoring

His gentle words of support may be just the thing to inspire kids and adults alike to start and never stop creating whatever art they want to see in the world, no matter how silly, absurd, or out-of-the-box it may seem. Shel Silverstein’s books certainly inspired me to do so as a kid, and I hope they touch you in the same way. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *