I celebrated National Poetry Month as a writer, teacher, and reader this year. What a thrilling April 2018 it has been. Between two of my own poems published in honor of this whimsical month, and my third-grade students blowing me away with their abilities for our “Poem in your Pocket” day at school, my heart was full.
My poems are at the bottom, but first, I would love to share with you some pretty amazing poetry from the mouths of babes, (eight and nine-year old’s, anyway):
The road between our house and store
Beholds the ocean shoreline
The egrets standing stick still in the salt
The marshes and osprey circling
Hunting fish at tide high
Waves sparkle under the wooden bridges
And I can guess the tide even before I see it
Just by closing my eyes
And breathing the air
Through the car window
A screaming high pitch
A loud noise
A source of a yucky doo-doo
Changing a diaper
I don’t want to talk about it
~~~By B. R.
Big Family (A Tanka)
Taking all my stuff
Breaking all of my new toys
Lots to fight about
Even though we’re not alike
We are having lots of fun
~~~By A. G. (independent from A.G.G. above)
Imagery, humor, family diversity… I don’t think we can ignore the wisdom of our youth any longer. They may be considered children, but they have much to say. I could share many more poems from my students, and they would truly move you. Some, of course, might offend. They are the scribbles of random words, some even the dreaded potty-mouthed, shock and awe sort. But here’s the deal; they are children learning to throw down their thoughts in new found freedom. There are no rules… and any rules we do learn (i.e. iambic or haiku type rules) are meant to be broken.
I don’t know why more teachers don’t start with poetry at the beginning of the year and then weave it through to the end. Unfortunately, if it’s taught at all in younger grades, it’s one form of rhyming poetry in June. Well, my friends, when you unfold the many facets of poetry to children and then let them go, watch out for surprises that actually bloom into their other genres of writing. It’s truly a win-win.
I am also pleased to have two of my own poems published this month. One was for the Limerick Writers’ Centre in Limerick, Ireland. They posted poems each day for Poetry Month along the Grey Stone Wall, hundreds of years old, down the road from King John’s castle (as an Irish writing friend, also published there, explained to me). I wish I could have gone to see it in person, but the picture was something. My poem is entitled, Poetry Falls.
rain on the window
Renewed thoughts roll
winding their journey
a c r o s s
turn in hollows, already
there, reflective only
~~~By Celaine Charles
Published by Limerick Writers’ Centre, “April is Poetry Month in Limerick,” Ireland 2018
Just this past Friday, the Sunlight Press surprised me by publishing my poem, White Blossoms, as their close to National Poetry Month.
I look ahead to my daughter,
When did she grow
from vines of Sweet Autumn
as she ascends.
I drink in her fragrance,
like a potion,
to lean on,
And I watch her inhale
a piece of sky,
a bite of courage
amongst tiny morsels
that once stirred
in my womb.
Maybe even then
she knew who she would be –
Maybe even then
she felt her sun beams stretch
to tree limbs –
White blossoms in the wind.
~~~By Celaine Charles, Published by Sunlight Press, April 26, 2018
It was written about a year ago after a hike with my college-bound daughter. The words flowed out and it became more sentimental than anything. Interestingly, I sent other pieces to be published and needed to add one more poem in the bunch. I threw this one in as a last minute choice. The others were not received, but this one was. It goes to show you never know what words will connect with what readers. This helped me to see that rejections are just that, rejections for that moment. It doesn’t mean a poem isn’t good. It just didn’t reach that reader at that time. This experience also taught me not to be afraid to share my true sentimental feelings. I often write personal poems for only my eyes, and maybe I need to share those more often.
My favorite complements about poetry are things like, “I don’t typically follow poetry because I don’t understand it, but this one made sense to me.” Or, “I don’t usually like poetry, but I could really sense what you were trying to say.” It’s important to me to write poetry that anyone can enjoy. I want to un-complicate prose and verse. It doesn’t have to be some clandestine message for only a small élite group to comprehend. Let’s open poetry up to all who like celebrating thoughts and words. And there is no perfect age for that!
Happy April 2018 ~ Always National Poetry Month to me.
Writing Advice: Keep a Poem in your Pocket
Find a book store in your town, preferably a brick and mortar style. Then, without asking for help, sleuth out the poetry section. Hint: It will probably be small and hidden in the back. Think… somewhere forgotten.
Once discovered, run your fingers along the rows (or one tiny row) of book spines, find a chapbook that stands out to you, and flip through it. Find a poem or two that catches your eye. Don’t worry about understanding the whole poem. Just read some words. If you hate it, or there is no connection, put it back and grab another. If you can find one book with one small poem where even just a few words grab you – buy it!
Typically, paperback and bendy, chapbooks are inexpensive and fit easily in a purse or bag. Carry it with you and when you find yourself at a bus stop, or dentist’s office, pull it out and read that one poem again. After that, read another. Keep reading here and there and everywhere. You’ll be surprised how much you start to pick up just re-reading a poem over time. You may find you like a particular theme or style. Maybe you find more books from one author. Or if anything, you clarify what you don’t like in poetry. Box checked.
I encourage ALL people (writers and non-writers) to find a piece of poetry that speaks to them. If you can’t carry the book around, jot it down on a sticky-note and fold it into your wallet. Keep a poem in your pocket at all times. Pull it out and read it often, and more than that, share it with others. It will change your view of the world… I’m practically positive.
P.S. I just wrote a review of a haiku book, When Dragons and Angels Collide, by Ann Christine Tabaka that would make for a great start to your new collection. *Review under C.W. https://www.amazon.com/When-Dragons-Angels-Collide-Traditional/dp/1546974571/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524950143&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=when+dragons+and+angels+collide+by+tanaka
By Celaine Charles, Steps in Between
www.limerickwriterscentre.com (Poetry Falls & Wall Picture from Dominic Taylor)
https://bit.ly/2I1o2pR (White Blossoms poem)
https://petalsandwings.blog/2012/09/19/clematis-sweet-autumn/ (picture of autumn clematis)
https://www.pinterest.com/margotdempster/poetry/?lp=true (poem in your packet)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444519425693869472/ (poem in pocket scrolls)
https://juniperbooks.com/store/american-poetry-set/ (poetry book spines)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Knowledge-sharing.jpg and Creative Commons, (sharing thoughts & knowledge)
Categories: Thoughts on writing...