Jen Laffler is an award-winning poet, author, and educator who firmly believes that there’s genius in every one of us. Her children’s book J is for Jitterbug: A Fanciful Animal Alphabet, illustrated by Tony Perrin, was published in 2016 (JALG, Ink). Jen's poems have appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies. Her poem The Matzoh Ball was adapted into a short play for Straight from The Page, the 6th Annual 5 Minute Play Festival, in 2019; she performed Bring on the Brainstorm, her tribute to student-activists, at the 2018 March For Our Lives Rally in Encinitas, CA. Jen’s latest project, Where Did All the Towels Go?, is an illustrated collection of family-friendly, kid-inspired poems. In March 2021, she was awarded a Poetry Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing for her poem The Night-Shark.
Jen served as Director of Children’s Programming for the inaugural San Diego Writers Festival and directed the KidsWrite! San Diego Children’s Writing Contest for three years. She teaches children’s writing classes at San Diego Writers, Ink and on behalf of Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual. She also teaches Creative Cursive Camps; speaks at school Author's Nights, and hosts her very own traveling writing game, "So You Think You Can Write!".
Jen is a graduate of Wellesley College. Before focusing on writing and teaching, she was a Wall Street investment banker (who filled spreadsheets with poetry-ideas for years and didn't even try to hide it)! Her chief inspirations are her three young daughters, fun/loving husband Bob, and their extremely handsome Labrador Retriever, Funston. She speaks fluent Spanish, lousy but enthusiastic German; and believes in magic — the magic of Pablo Neruda.
Jen loves how poetry can create deep and joyful connection between people, and believes that fresh young minds are naturally gifted at this kind of connection-making. Her favorite children's poem is probably "Smart" by Shel Silverstein. Favorite grown-up poem? That changes all the time, but she keeps coming back to one almost unbearably special one: "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop.