Friday, May 6, 2011

A Southern Child's Garden of Verses and Poetry Month

This is poetry month. I hope you will consider picking up a copy of A Southern Child's Garden of Verses for your little ones. This project is one of my favorites. We intentionally went for the old fashioned picture book look instead of the modern "computer generated" look. The book is a mix of funny and nostalgic poems for children. Herb Leonhard is a master artist and the book makes a good coffee table book for adults too. The art by itself is worth the price of the book.

Lots of my picture books are based on the books I loved as a child. A Child's Garden of Verses was one of them. I played around doing funny Mad Magazine type parodies of poems and songs as a kid. The first time I really remember trying to write something "serious" was in the 8th grade for Mrs. Cobb at Roger's Junior School. You could get out of some sort of work if you wrote your poem instead of just reciting one. Being basically lazy, I opted for that route. The poem earned me a good grade and got my mind thinking along poetic lines--especially stuff like Ogden Nash. He was my favorite. I loved his humorous pieces.

I always had a knack for satire and parody. It got me in trouble at Highlands High School. Especially that day in Mrs. Sun's class. She introduced us to Walt Whitman's poem, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking. She asked us to try to write a poem using Walt's style. My poem was titled "Out of the Sewer Endlessly Spewing."

She was not amused.

I think I got three days in detention hall for that one.

The truth is that I DID love Leaves of Grass and lots of other poetry, but in those days a love of poetry could get you beat up on the school yard. As the years went by I appreciated poetry more and more. I write some "serious" poems, but I still love parody,. My mind runs that way. What's a guy to do?


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