Theatrical Performances of King County Poet’s Work for Children

Seattle—Childhood’s everyday moments come to life with poet Erik Korhel’s new rhyming picture book The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache and Other Nostalgic Companions. Told from an elementary schoolchild’s point of view, the poems focus on the fun, puzzling and poignant moments of being young. “I write my poems for children, but I know adults relate to them. I see them smile and know they are remembering a feeling from long ago,” says Korhel, whose latest book includes tales of having a brand-new bike stolen, science projects, pranks, braces, babysitters, haircuts and the intricacies of catching a fast-moving Ice Cream Man before he is sold out.
“Elementary school was the best time of my life and writing about my experiences gives me the opportunity to re-live it—even the embarrassing things,” says Korhel who spent his early school years in the South King County town of Covington.
His first book of children’s poetry, My Tooth Fell in My Soup (2009), impressed New York City’s Education Department so much, it’s listed as a “must have” for teaching poetry to 3rd through 5th graders.
My Tooth Fell in My Soup also inspired Kent’s South Side Dance Force director Joselito Castillo to turn all 21 poems in the book into a show! The troupe appears with Korhel at book stores to act out titles such as Sleepover, Saliva Napkin and First Love. Their live-action collaboration has also toured local schools, libraries and a hospital.
Korhel and Castillo are now working to turn The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache and Other Nostalgic Companions to poetry in motion. The performance debut for their latest work is currently scheduled for April, which is National Poetry Month.

By Erik Korhel
Sometimes my shoes don’t match
Or my curls bounce from not brushing my hair.
I’m at ease sitting under this shopping cart
Even when the clerk gives me an uncomfortable stare.
I don’t mind my fingernails growing too long
That grass stains show up on my shirt,
How the holes in my jeans expose two bony knees
Or that grime from those conquered piles of dirt.
The peanut butter and jelly needing to be scraped from my coat
How the elastic from my underwear appears and shows.
Whether my pajamas are backwards and inside out
How snot is drying and crusting all around my nose.
Fun is at the top of my list.
With everything else, I rarely think twice.
“What was the question again,
Something about me wanting to look nice?”

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