Good Saturday everyone,
Two days ago a few of us started a discussion on the Adult Word of the Month Poems page that I decided was significant and interesting enough to bring to the “front page” as today’s blog. It started with this comment from Yousei Hime about a humorous poem of mine.
(Yousei) I used to take poetry so seriously. It never occurred to me until much later in life (I can be very slow) that Dr. Suess was a great poet. Fun, humorous poetry is the best. I love serious, dark, even sad. But at least right now, let’s have more sunshine and laughter. Thanks for your poems, David.
(David) Yousei, you raise a good point for discussion. The literary world typically considers writers of serious, big picture issues as “serious” writers. By implication, no one else is. Which includes most children’s writers. Children’s writers in general and poets in particular are considered by many to be less than equal members of the writing community. (I’ve added the following comment to what I originally stated: In his book, Can Poetry Matter? Dana Gioia refers to children’s poetry as “the critically disreputable demimonde of light verse and chidren’s poetry.”) Humor is also suspect. So where does that place the children’s poet of humorous poems? You guessed it. On the other hand, what sort of poetry do children love? Humor. So children’s poets sometimes feel as though they can write “seriously” to appeal to grown-ups or write funny poems that their readers like. Anyone want to comment on this?
And someone did. Here’s Gay Fawcett.
(Gay) David, interesting question! I taught primary children for years. It is true they love humorous poetry, but I also found young children can come to love serious poetry when teachers share it thoughtfully and with their own passion for good poetry of all kinds. In my earlier blog I made a plea to teachers not to limit their classroomn poetry to Silverstein and Prelutsky. Although I love them both I think we underestimate children when we restrict their poetry experiences.
(Yousei) I agree with Gay. There needs to be a balance, and not just for young readers. I’ve also taught, and one of my primary goals was to instill at least an awareness of, if not encourage a love of language. I think a study of poetry is one of the best ways of doing that. One can tell a decent story without agonizing over each word. Poetry demands precise words, wonderful words, the perfect word. Besides, it is so coooooooool when you get it right.
As you can see, the topic seemed too rich to remain off the beaten path so here it is for everyone to consider. My hope is that you will weigh in on this topic on the comments section below so we can gather in one place the good opinions of many readers. Some of you teach, some write, some do both, and some do neither. One thing I’ve learned is that we’re a chatty bunch willing to share thoughts and support and this is a fine place to do both.
Who will get us started?