Of course, this day brings a new reason to post and poeticize profusely: on April 1st we begin National Poetry Month. No foolin.’
Throughout the next 30 days, I’ll be sharing some new light verse of my own and bringing you a few delicious little discoveries, including wonderful visual poems that meld words and rhythm with moving images.
Today’s post, a fitting end to the Limerick-A-Day challenge and a fabulous kickoff to National Poetry Month, features two verses by one of my favorite up-and-coming young writers: my daughter Ella.
I’ve now got a rich chocolate bunny, And to be quite honest, it’s funny: What I really want Is something to flaunt, And that something is some pocket money.
My younger daughter enters middle school next year. She’s a small girl with a big personality. She’s been feeling a little sensitive about her size compared to her classmates’, who are all undergoing major growth spurts – especially the girls. But I feel confident she’ll fit right in. She’s a pistol.
When she went for an orientation at her new school last week, she spent part of the evening choosing an instrument to learn in band class. Her older sister plays the flute, and there was an assumption that she’d do the same. It was the first instrument the middle school music teacher handed her. She positioned her lips over the mouthpiece and blew a pretty good first note. The teacher looked pleased.
Next came the clarinet. She did okay, but her arms looked awkward grasping the long body. She wasn’t a fan, and neither was I.
The teacher bypassed the trombone (far too big for her to handle) and picked up a trumpet. I’d almost told the teacher not to bother, we’ll go for flute, thanks, see you in the fall.
But when she picked it up and put her lips to the mouthpiece, something remarkable happened. She blew a big, strong, long and brassy note that sounded to the heavens. Her dad, the teacher and I were still for a moment. Then the teacher asked her to try again. She blew another clear note, even longer and stronger.
And so, come fall, my little girl will be making some big noise as she heralds the arrival of the school year with her new instrument.
During a particularly hectic day last week, I tossed my mail on the table by the front door, thinking of it no more until days later, just this afternoon. For some reason, the pile caught my eye and one piece in particular found its way into my hand – a postcard from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, announcing an evening with W.S. Merwin, the United States Poet Laureate. He’ll be reading from and signing copies of his 2005 collection, Migration.
It’s one week from today. It’s free. I’m going. And I’m absolutely giddy about it!
Now, I admit to not being well-versed in details about our esteemed Poet Laureate, but I do know that he’s a two-time Pulitzer honoree and that I like his work – particularly his more recent collections. For me, the looser style is more accessible than the more traditional and formal structure of his earlier works. And the fact that I’ll be able to experience this poetry rock star up close and personal in my own city is beyond belief.
Did I mention that I’m giddy?
This video from Poetry Everywhere gives a brief biography before showing the poet himself reading his poem, “Yesterday,” published in 1983:
My friend says I was not a good son
I say yes I understand
he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know
even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes
he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father
he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me
oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father’s hand the last time
he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me
oh yes I say
but if you are busy he said
I don’t want you to feel that you
just because I’m here
I say nothing
he says my father
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don’t want to keep you
I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do