“We Are Masters at Childhood”: Time and Agency in Poetry by, for, and about Children

  • Rachel Conrad
Keywords: poetry, time, agency, temporal agency, poetry by young people


This essay considers a selection of poetry by, for, and about children in order to explore representations of time and agency. Reading poems across contexts of writers’ age-related social positions and audiences can illuminate poets’ strategies for representing children’s agency in and over time, since representations of time are infused with adult-child power relations. Only poems written by young people conveyed a conception of temporal agency that encompassed characters’ experiences of time as children. The essay concludes by proposing a notion of children’s temporal standpoints that incorporates agency at the levels of action and social role.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2013.0011

Author Biography

Rachel Conrad

Rachel Conrad is Professor of Childhood Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses that integrate literary and social studies of childhood. Her current project explores temporality in twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry by, for, and about children.

How to Cite
Conrad, R. (2014). “We Are Masters at Childhood”: Time and Agency in Poetry by, for, and about Children. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 5(2). Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/204