Daily Archives: April 24, 2015

Reflections on Children’s Poetry, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Lorax

By Stacy Parish, Children’s DepartmentShel_Silverstein_-_Where_the_Sidewalk_Ends

One day several years ago, when my children were small, it occurred to me that perhaps I was letting them watch too much television. I had this particular epiphany after an episode of Teletubbies led me to idly speculate what sort of expensive pharmaceutical usage had led to the invention of the aforementioned pudgy nonsense-spouting creatures, and if the ensuing commercial success of the Teletubbies then enabled the program’s creators and producers to be able to afford more of whatever controlled substance had been instrumental in bringing Dipsy, Po, Laa Laa, and Tinky-Winky into existence. And then there’s Caillou. (Which translates to “small smooth pebble” in French. You’re welcome.) Do not get me started on that whiny, round-headed little twerp. * Even hearing his name all these years later makes me immediately start casting around for a sharp object. If an animated children’s television show inspires such sinister thoughts, it’s probably not a great idea to let your kid watch a ton of it.

I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet—

And you know what I tell you is true.

He loved to watch his TV set

Almost as much as you.

                                                     –Shel Silverstein

 I’ve always been a bookworm, and I read to my kids (okay, technically I suppose I was reading to my burgeoning midsection, but you know what I mean) even before they entered the world, but maybe it was time to step it up a notch from Eric Carle and Lucy Cousins to something a little loftier. Poetry? What a great idea!

Between the dark and the daylight,

When the night is beginning to lower,

Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,

That is known as the Children’s Hour.

                                           –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So. Where to begin? At the library, of course, after a brief detour to the local ice cream parlor. (It’s merely a suggestion. If you prefer active culture frozen yogurt with organic mix-ins, go for it. Just don’t judge me.) Here we go–Shakespeare, Silverstein, Seuss. Nesbitt and Nash. Milne, Moore, Millay. Prelutsky and Poe. In case you’re wondering, and I really hope you aren’t, those beautiful, haunting verses created by Edgar Allan Poe may ignite a fire in your adult soul but are generally not appropriate for– or amusing to– your average preschooler. That old saw about knowing your audience definitely holds true when diving into the poetry pool with your child. In other words, if you decide to make a foray into poetry with your kiddo, don’t overthink it. Whether you choose The Giving Tree or Green Eggs and Ham, or something else entirely, enjoy the exploration of a new genre with your child. And . . .

When called by a panther/Don’t anther.

                                                          –Ogden Nash

Suggested sources for children’s poetry, in no particular order:

  • Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
  • The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash
  • Shout! Little Poems That Roar by Brod Bagert
  • Here’s a Little Poem collected by Jane Yolen
  • Treasury of Poetry selected by Alistair Hedley

 

*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.

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Guest Post: Why this Doctor Writes Poetry

Brian Christman, MDMedicineBy Brian W. Christman, professor and vice chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Medicine as well as chief of medical service at the Veteran Affairs’ Tennessee Valley Health Care System

It is always a bit of a challenge to explain why a physician, a person so intensely interested in the well-being of other people, would move away from the world and craft a few lines about a scene, an observation, or a thought. Sometimes it comes from a sense of obligation, the feeling that someone should think a bit longer about a solitary widow taking a shaving bag home, or a veteran patient smoking and telling stories at sunset, or the obvious but unspoken respect of a granddaughter for the recuperating patriarch. It seems to me that doctors are privileged to be with people during critical episodes in their lives and should not remain unmoved by events and interactions.

Occasionally there is just a snatch of nature, like the endlessly erasing shoreline at sunrise, begging in an undescribed language for translation. Often there is just a phrase, or part of a story, that resonates with a previous experience and sculpts a partial memory into something new.

But this explanation claims too much high ground. Sometimes I just like to noodle around with words and phrases about a topic until something comes together with its own rhythm, rhyme, and silence. It feels good to distill.

Guest Post: Medicine and Poetry, Not so Far Apart after All

By Hester-DougDouglas Landon Hester, an anesthesiologist whose academic work focuses on airway management and resident education

I suspect I’m a poet and a physician for the same reasons. In both, small details define major issues. In both, precision matters. In both, the right word in the right way can help someone. In both, I believe I’m using talents as a steward. In both, there is a wonderful tension between science and art.

In both, relationships are ultimately the bottom line. Whether I am offering a specific drug or procedure or I am trying to connect with a reader I have never met, it is the common humanity between us that allows me to be a physician and a poet.

Medicine and poetry are, for me, about people. I’m blessed to do both.

 

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