Teachers inevitably ask themselves, thinking about children’s writing, ‘How do poems get written?’ This question is often taken to mean, ‘How do I get them to write poems?’ – with an implicit ‘tell me’ or at least ‘advise me’. Just as often, an answer can be provided, either at the level of a ‘this is what I do’ chat in the staffroom, or in the form of conferences or in-service courses or books. In such contexts the response traditionally tends to be a matter of explaining how to do it, what stimulus to begin with, what resources to use as follow-up, what subjects are particularly good for asking children to write poems on, and so on. This is an answer, and there is no doubt that it is a kind of answer that can be helpful. But it is an answer to only one of two different interpretations of the question. That can also mean: what was in fact the story of the origin and development of those poems? what is in fact the nature of the process of their being written? These are different emphases, and the question itself becomes a different kind of question; it is a request not for advice, but for information about the sort of classroom in which poems seem often to be written.