I Was a Child Poet. And a Bad One.


Good morning, Hank. It’s Tuesday. Why is this fellow, given to me by a Nerdfighter in Germany, doing his happy dance? Because Amazon.com just named The Fault In Our Stars one of the ten best books of 2012. I don’t mean books for teenagers, I mean overall books, like I’m right behind Dave Eggers and inexplicably ahead of Junot Diaz. Hank, as an novelist, I really believe in the power of the precisely-chosen word. So all I can say about this news is SMURGAPURG. In other news, hold on, I have to change shirts, I’m feeling anxious without my collar. That’s better! So, Hank, over the last few days, the Yeti and I have been on an organizational BINGE. And this has allowed me to come across all kinds of things I haven’t seen in years, like this Venn diagram from Brotherhood 2.0. And also much of my early work, like The Best New Years Resolution Ever Happy New Year Streamers. I found misprinted EcoGeek business cards from back in January of 2007, and I also found books that other people have written. Like, Q and the Three Tubs of Vaseline, which really does not make sense unless you’ve read Paper Towns. And Debby Kitto’s Pants Power and his Power Pants. I found old high school literary journals, featuring a story by me in which the main character dies, a story by me in which the grandfather dies, and a story by me in which the main character dies. And I found a Book About Me And My Fun Times. Here is a picture of me travelling in a space ship. It’s also a picture of a man with no torso who has been imprisoned in a triangle. I also found lots and lots of report cards. ‘Incredible potential as an English student, but he has reached a juncture where he just can’t mail it in anymore.’ ‘It is safe to say that John underachieved this year. If he takes French 3 next year, he will need to take much greater care in his daily preparations.’ ‘John went into a tailspin in this course during the last 6 weeks.’ ‘While John has a wonderful capacity to convey empathy for people in the past, her analyzing of historical writings has room for improvement.’ Well, I think your pronoun use has room for improvement. This is essentially what my report cards look like all the way back to, like, elementary school. Then I came across this one from third grade, and I was really excited because I got all A’s, yeah, it’s Hank Green’s report card! Dangit! But that’s not nearly as embarrassing as my book of peaceful and amusing poems. I don’t know when I wrote this, Hank, but, ah, here is my biographical poem. I’m gonna say that I was, like, eight, in my defence. So this is called Bio-Poem. ‘John. Nice. Peaceful. Visionary. Joyous. Lover of peace, hope, and Jennifer.’ It must’ve been, ah, fourth grade, because that’s when I dated Jennifer Keane. So. I guess I was older. That’s. Boy. I was ten! Oh, God. ‘Who believed that world peace could someday be? Who wanted good grades, high moral standards, and world peace.’ -in case I have not already mentioned that- ‘Who used his money, his love, and his writing, who gave his money, his love, and everything he had, who said, “visualize world peace, it could happen.” Green.’ I don’t know why the first line of the poem is my first name and the last line of the poem is my last name, but I’m worried that it’s because I wanted the middle of the poem to be my nickname, you know, like Sunny “Night Train” Liston, or Ricardo “The Bunsen” Berna? I think I might’ve wanted to be known as John “Nice-Peaceful-Visionary-Joyous-Lover-Of-Peace-Hope-And Jennifer-Who-Believed-That-World-Peace-Could-Someday-Be-Who-Wanted-High-Moral-Standards- And-World-Peace-Who-Used-His-Money-His-Love-And-His-Writing-Who-Gave-His-Money-His-Love-And-Everything-He-Had Who-Said-Visualize-World-Peace-It-Could-Happen” Green. So, Hank, the reason the Yeti and I have been going through this stuff is that I’m donating all the drafts of my books, along with correspondence with my editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel to the de Grummond children’s library at the University of Southern Mississippi which means that all the manuscripts will be archived there forever, which is awesome, partly because it means I will be sharing a room with the manuscripts from, like, A Wrinkle in Time, Peter Rabbit… They have, like, thousands of famous manuscripts, but I am greatly honored that the de Grummond Collection is including my work in their library. I’m so psyched! Hank, DFTBA, Nerdfighters I will see you on Fri- I did that wrong, it’s Nerdfighers, DFTBA… everybody, DFTBA, and then, Hank, I will only see you on Friday. Nerdfighters, I will see you in comments.

100 Replies to “I Was a Child Poet. And a Bad One.

  1. So that's just not me who noticed that John Green had an obsession to kill off the main characters RIGHT FROM HIS CHILDHOOD! Right??

  2. Actually the poem was probably supposed to look like that I remember doing a similar assignment around that age it's like your name and who you are then your last name

  3. I have seen the gif for 1:29 SO MANY TIMES, but I was waiting for so long before I actually found the video! 

  4. OMG THIS IS SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY OTHER COMMENT!! I GO TO SOUTHERN MISS, AND AS SOON AS JOHN SAID DE GRUMMOND, I STARTED FREAKING OUT!!!  I know we have his stuff, but I never thought he would mention it in a video! I'M SO EXCITED RIGHT NOWWWWWW!!!!!

  5. Who….occurs in a similar way to the way who appears in Howl. ….Did you watch a ton of beauty pageants or something though?

  6. From one of my report cards: "Scott does not know how to interact with others, except in ways they don't understand. Such as, he barks at them".

  7. I don't know where it is, but I remember as a fifth grader I was assigned to write a story about the thanksgiving turkey I crafted in class. Everybody was suprised by how insane my imagination was. Some boys gave it a zero and I am now writing.

  8. I know this is a few years late, but I'm a current junior at The University of Southern Mississippi, and I can't thank you enough for your contribution. I know I'm only a student here, and I realize that you probably won't see this, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. The Du Grummond Collection is one of USM's most loved features, and it is always wonderful to see such fantastic and influential artists as yourself contribute.

  9. First name, stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff, last name is a poem format. I do not know the name of this poem but it is a type of poetry I promise. Little John was on to something

  10. Why only on the door knob, I never understood, even if they did lather it on all the doors, wouldn't there be enough to collect one last revenge (for lack of a better word) thing?

  11. Thank you for that shot of encouragement reaching to me through time from three years ago. Hearing about your report cards is shockingly like mine. This is especially encouraging as I am just starting out in my own writing career.

  12. I remember writing those poems… You had to make the first line your first name, fill in the middle and then your last name. It was always so hard to come up with ideas for the middle..

  13. I remember that when we had to write bio poems, it was required to have our first name be the first line and our last name be the last line. Anyone else?

  14. Question: Do you or do you not like Sci-Fi (Books, Movies, or TV shows)? Also do you think Interstellar is still a good movie aside from the not-being-ripped-apart-by-the-giant-wormhole thing?

  15. Amusingly, you have used your money, love and writing to make the world a better place!! <3 Well done 10-year-old John Green you did it!

  16. I'm sure someone has already told you this, but what that poem sounds like is a "fill in the blank" poem, in which you basically write about something with adjectives or verbs or any infinitive number of different types of description. When describing a thing, you begin the poem with that things name and end it with a synonym, but when writing it about a person, you typically start with their first and end with their last names. Usually these types of poems are filled in by 3rd or 4th graders.

  17. I would like to point out, after today's podcast, that this video was a mini middle school poetry jam (though you were a little younger), and now you, John Green, should definitely agree to having a full length middle school poetry jam.

  18. I've been binging vlogbrothers videos for like the past month and I just saw the actually video that, that diagram came from like a week ago.

  19. i wrote bio poems in my english classes and the reasom you wrote your first and last name is because that is the structure of a bio poem. just like haikus have 5 syllables then 7 then 5. it is one of the defining features of a bio poem.

  20. Hahaha, for some reason my sound cut out just as he started reading his poem and I thought he cut out the audio on purpose.
    This is both amusing to me, as well as "What the hell? Why did my sound card suddenly crap out?"

  21. If I ever get the chance to go home soon, or even during summer vacation, even though I'll probably be really sad cuz I like college (I know, I'm a nerd, but I love my major), I might be able to dig up some old report cards/evaluations of mine.

  22. This comment might never be seen but did anyone else realise that the lines, 'who used his money, his love and his writing / who gave his money, his love and everything he had' have totally come true. Like that is exactly what John does- he gives his money, his love and his writing- from supporting AFC Wimbledon, supporting refugee camps and writing books which change people's lives to saying DFTBA at the end of almost every video. I just noticed it and thought it was a nice sentiment.

  23. Biographical poetry, at least in 4th grade poetry, begins with your first name and ends with your last name.

  24. We had to write those autobio poems in like every class from second through fifth grade. In one of them my sister said her favorite song was Clumsy by Fergie.

  25. this is an old video, but about the poem starting with your first name and ending with your last name: I believe that was a common format for elementary school poems and it was a structure enforced by teachers. so that part wasn't you.

  26. John green makes something as simple as a 4th grade poem sound like something that was crafted by shakespreare himself. OMYGOSY IM SO PROUD THAT TOOK ME AN HOUR TO MAKE SURE IT SOUNDED FANCY. ALSO TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN IS THE BEST.

  27. 'incredible potential as an english student' –amazing foreshadowing, john's former english teacher, good on you!

  28. I was dying the whole time you were reading your poetry. I am 100% positive that I have similar incriminating poems stashed in the back of my memory box…

  29. Make sure they store your papers on an upper floor. It's going to get pretty wet in southern Mississippi in the future.

  30. Atleast we know two things,
    1.) John killed characters, even as a child and
    2.) If John Green killed characters when he was young, atleast there is still hope for me XD

  31. watching this in 2018 and slightly freaked out that he mentions that his drafts will be sharing a room with a wrinkle in time AND peter rabbit – both just got movies not too far apart in release…. were u sayin sumthin john????

  32. "Well I think that your pronoun use has room for improvement!" I've been laughing at that for five minutes.

  33. I love being subscribed to a channel in which they use lines like "Man with no torso who has been imprisoned in a triangle."
    This is exactly what i need in my life.
    Thank you

  34. “Who used his money, his love and his writing. Who gave his money, his love and everything he had.”

    I mean, you weren’t that off.

  35. Proof positive that you must be an effective poet in order to be a successful prose writer. Note that I did not say you have to be good at it. You just need for it to be good to you.

  36. Hmmmm, in the beginning I wasn't really sure if this man was TRULY the Godfather of Tumblr, but after further inspection…. Yes, he IS truly, the Godfather of Tumblr.

  37. That poem basically predicted your work on Project For Awesome, so your writing may have improved but your aspirations most certainly have not.

  38. The biographical poem is of the same template that they told us to write in 3rd grade Language Arts with a bunch of other stupid poems.

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