Jack Prelutsky was born on September 8, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. He was educated through the New York City public school system and graduated from the High School of Music and Art, where he studied voice.
He studied voice at various music schools and sang with summer opera companies in Boston and in the state of Washington. When Prelutsky was 10 years old, his voice was so remarkable that he was often paid to sing at weddings and other events, and had performances booked solid almost every weekend. He was even also given free voice lessons by the Choir Master of the Metropolitan Opera.
Upon graduating from high school, Prelutsky attended Hunter College, which is now the City University of New York. He left school shortly after "to become a beatnik."
To this day, Prelutsky claims to have hated poetry through most of his childhood. In grade school, he had a teacher who left him with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. "I was told it was good for me, but I wasn't convinced."
He rediscovered poetry when he was in his 20's. "I realized poetry was a means of communication; that it could be as exciting or boring as the person or that experience." It was this new outlook that drove him to write about things that kids really cared about and to strive to make poetry fun.
At that time, Prelutsky spent months drawing imaginary animals. One evening he decided to write a little poem to go with each drawing. After seeing his work, a friend encouraged him to show the poems to an editor. That editor turned out to be Susan Hirschman, who thought he had a talent for writing verse. She told him that he was a natural poet and encouraged him to keep writing. She published his first book in 1967 and is his editor to this day.
Writing poetry has not been Prelutsky's only career. He has been a cab driver, a truck driver, a busboy, a bookseller, a door-to-door salesman, a photographer, a furniture mover, a potter, and a folk singer.
Prelutsky met his wife Carolynn when he went to Albuquerque to speak to children and teachers, something he loves to do to this day. Carolynn was the children's librarian assigned to shepherd him around town. "Within five minutes (according to Prelutsky) he had proposed to her; she accepted the next day and they were married some months later. That was over seven years ago.
Prelutsky has a number of interests, including bicycling, playing racquetball, woodworking, and cooking. He also likes metal and kinetic sculpture, inventing word and board games, reading, making collages, and playing tennis. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Carolynn and a vast collection of poetry books and decorative frogs in every shape, size, and form.
He is now the author of more than three dozen collections of original verse and anthologies of children's poetry. He also spends much of his time presenting poems to children in schools and libraries throughout the United States.
Poems - 10 in all
Bleezer's Ice Cream
A pizza the size of the
The Pancake Collector
Super Samson Simpson
Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
Be Glad your nose is on your face