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. Jen has published more than a dozen poems 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 prestigious 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 offers children’s writing classes at San Diego Writers, Ink; 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 graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College and is a former Wall Street banker (who filled spreadsheets with poetry-ideas for years and didn't try to hide it!) Her most frequent 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 believes that there is nothing quite like poetry — the right words at the right times — for creating deep and joyful connection between people; and that fresh young minds are naturally gifted at this kind of connection-making. Her favorite children's poem just might be "Smart" by Shel Silverstein.
IFAQ's: Infrequently Asked Questions
Do you like ice cream? - Ryan B.
Hey, Ryan. I love ice cream... don't you?! My favorite flavors are Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Baskin Robbins' Chocolate Chip. Feel free to share these with me any time!
Hello There! I am Sydney! I liked your poems. You inspired me to write a poem. I have a question though, what is a Jitterbug? - Sydney D.
Hi Sydney! A Jitterbug is a made-up creature which not only loves to dance, it has wings to help it do all kinds of amazing flips and tricks! I did not invent "the Jitterbug", though - it's an energetic dance that was super-popular in the 1930's and '40's. Here is a video of dancers from Dancing With The Stars doing the Jitterbug. It's no accident that dancing is an important part of J is for JITTERBUG! Tony Perrin, the illustrator, is a professional dancer as well as artist and jewelry designer. Look closely at the Jitterbugs on the cover, and you'll see one wears a cursive "J" for Jen, the other a T for Tony.