Amazing Words Wednesday: My Words

This summer I took a month-long vacation from blogging on Wednesdays. Last week, I returned to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what we can find.

But today, I’m not talking about grammar, punctuation, or language in general. Since I’m a writer and want to share words and stories, I have decided to take the first Wednesday of each month and share something I’ve written. It might be a poem, a flash fiction piece, an excerpt from a novel, song lyrics, or middle-of-the-night, insomnia-driven ramblings–but one way or another, I’ll provide something here for readers to get a taste of my words. Which may or may not rise to the level of amazing, but we’ll see.

Let me start off very simply, with the first poem I ever wrote. Or at least, it’s the first poem that I wrote down and remember. I was 9  years old and looked like this:

3rd grade photo of Julie

I know what you’re thinking: Clearly, I was one of the cool kids. 😉 (Okay, fine, I was a shy kid who spent as much time as possible riding my bike and reading books.)

The mockingbird is the state bird of Texas, so that was my inspiration for the poem. I don’t know if I’d ever actually seen a mockingbird in my yard. But this is how my 9-year-old poem goes:

Mockingbird
Photo by Ken Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons

Sweetly sings the mockingbird
In a green-leafed tree
He sings a song I’ve never heard
The mockingbird and me

That’s it. Short and sweet.

These days, I have seen many different birds in our neighborhood, including red cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, owls, red-tailed hawks, blue herons, and yes, mockingbirds. But I haven’t yet written poetry about any of them.

Did you write when you were a kid? Have you kept anything you wrote from childhood? Feel free to share your young-yet-inspired work in the comments.

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Poetry You Actually Like

After my Limericks post, I realized how true it is that people who swear they don’t like poetry actually might. Plenty of people enjoy limericks, and that’s poetry.

What other poetry masquerades as something fun rather than something you must study for that one stupid unit in English class? For Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, let’s look at some children’s poets who appeal to kids and grownups alike.

Shel Silverstein

Poet Shel Silverstein authored 12 books. Some of his most popular were A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and The Giving Tree. He wrote about silly stuff but also stuff to which we relate. He described feelings that we all have with words that entertain. For instance, here’s the beginning of “Sick” from Where the Sidewalk Ends:

 

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?”

The poem continues with all of Peggy Ann McKay’s reasons for not going to school – which we can relate to as a student or a parent.

Here’s a silly one from Shel Silverstein made into a video:

 

Dr. Seuss
You’ve heard of him, right? Theodor Geisel, or pen name Dr. Seuss, wrote 47 children’s books. I don’t know any adults who don’t enjoy Dr. Seuss as well. Geisel was great at playing with language, but he also taught some important concepts in his poems. For instance, in Yertle the Turtle, an arrogant turtle king turns his fellow pond dwellers into minions who must serve his desire to gain more and more power. That is, until one particular turtle speaks out on behalf of everyone:

That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a little bit mad
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king.

reprinted from www.seussville.com

It’s about a bunch of turtles, but also about equality and fair treatment in society.

My own favorite from Dr. Seuss, however, is Horton Hatches the Egg. Merrie Melodies did a version of the tale in 1942. It’s enjoyable to watch, but I’ll give you advance notice that it is almost 10 minutes long.

 

Jack Prelutsky
Jack Prelutsky was the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate, named by the Poetry Foundation in 2006. However, Prelutsky said, “There was a time when I couldn’t stand poetry! In grade school, I had a teacher who left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. I was told that it was good for me, but I wasn’t convinced” (from Scholastic). As a young man, he enjoyed drawing and started adding a poem to each of his pictures. Now, he has written more than 50 poetry collections for children. Here’s a sample:

Ma! Don’t throw that shirt out,
It’s my all-time favorite shirt!
I admit it smells peculiar,
and is stained with grease and dirt,
that it’s missing half its buttons,
and has got so many holes
that it might have been infested
by a regiment of moles.

Yes! I know that I’ve outgrown it,
that it’s faded and it’s torn,
I can see the sleeves are frazzled,
I’m aware the collar’s worn,
but I’ve had that shirt forever,
and I swear that I’ll be hurt
if you dare to throw that shirt out —
IT’S MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE SHIRT!

reprinted from www.jackprelutsky.com

I missed Halloween by quite a few days, but here’s another, spookier one called The Ghoul:

So what do you think of poetry? Do you enjoy children’s poetry? Who are your favorite children’s poets or favorite children’s poems?