April 04, 2008

Poetry Friday: Youthful Wisdom

I saw the first poem below on the cover of the weekend entertainment section of our newspaper, and then I saw who wrote it: Seth Durrant, age 8, of San Francisco. The Chronicle did a huge feature on children's poetry in honor of National Poetry Month, and all of the posted poems are winners. I couldn't resist sharing two great ones about writing, for today's Poetry Friday.

What Do I Write With?

Do I write with a bloody dagger?
I could write with the atoms of the air.
I can write with a touch of a hand.
I can write with lightning.
I can write with the power of sunlight.
I can write with the water of a sponge.
I can write with an oyster's pearl.
I can write with God's hand.
I can write with life.
I can write with my pumping heart.
But what do I erase with?

--Seth Durrant, 8, San Francisco


What does writing mean to you
With words that gulp and swallow?
A story web is a thin thread
Your heart can always follow.
For words of pencil, not of mouth
Emote all of humanity.
And when a man speaks from his pen,
He's still thought to have his sanity.
Yet when that man speaks this in tongue
It becomes an empty stencil
He should have spoken all those words
With the magic of the pencil.

--Charlotte Constantin, 10, San Rafael

Looking at how kids view the writing process is both enlightening and humbling, to me. It makes me feel like I've forgotten so much, lost touch with a certain clarity of viewing the world. At the same time, it's inspiring--I can remember that sense of play, of the joy of just picking up a pencil and writing or drawing (and often both!). Check out both of these fabulous poems and many more on SFGate.com. And if you just can't get enough, here's a link to more poems by Bay Area kids.

Don't miss TadMack's striking contribution to Poetry Friday, and go cruise by the full roundup over at Becky's Book Reviews.


david elzey said...

"But what do I erase with?"

Dang! I wish I'd written that! Kids write some of the greatest lines. When I was a teacher working on a poetry unit with my seventh graders I had this one kid, the quiet one who was smart but couldn't manage to finish any of his assignments, submitted probably the only poem my brain committed to memory the second I read it.

He left you
I'll leave you to
If you want to be left

I don't know what it was, but it struck me immediately and I've never been able to shake it.

Thanks for sharing these and rekindling the memory.

Kelly said...

Like David, I find "But what do I erase with" just wonderful.

tanita✿davis said...

Ooh, he can write with God's hand? That's a good trick! And I love that words 'gulp and swallow.' That's really quite a description. But oh, -- what a heartbreaking little poem from David's student! Wow.

Sara said...

Just think how much we used to know before we grew up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these both snapped me to attention. I'd love to be a fly on the wall, and see how these kids develop as writiers...

Anonymous said...

I'm reading an amazing anthology right now from Milkweed Editions of poetry by children, who were asked to write about the natural world around them. I hope to post about it soon. Such a great book.

Sara said it right, didn't she?

Anonymous said...

My son Seth Durrant was so proud of that poem, and I am glad that it has gotten out there for the world to read.

He has a very unique life, as he had written that poem while acting as a supernumerary in the San Francisco Opera production of "Macbeth," which I believe added the inspiration for the bloody dagger! He also suffers from a rare medical syndrome called NOMID, so he has faced a lot of unusual challenges in his life.

I had hoped that his amazing "poetry in the Schools" teacher, Sally Doyle would get some recognition for her teaching that opened his mind to poetry, but they did not mention that. I had let them know of her work in the class when I submitted his poem to the Chronicle.

Hopefully there will be more recognition for these poetry programs in the schools in the future.