Pure Poetry Week(s):
#1 – 2/23/2011 – Intro & Def Poetry Jam, by Riese
#2 – 2/23/2011 – Eileen Myles, by Carmen
#3 – 2/23/2011 – Anis Mojgani, by Crystal
#4 – 2/24/2011 – Andrea Gibson, by Carmen & Katrina/KC Danger
#5 – 2/25/2011 – Leonard Cohen, by Crystal
#6 – 2/25/2011 – Staceyann Chin, by Carmen
#7 – 2/25/2011 – e.e. cummings, by Intern Emily
#8 – 2/27/2011 – Louise Glück, by Lindsay
#9 – 2/27/2011 – Shel Silverstein, by Lily
Aside from a period of angst ridden obsessions with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton in high school, I do not know much about poetry. I wish I knew more about poetry. This is why Autostraddle is the most amazing and revolutionary website/life-form ever. They are teaching me (and you!) about poetry.
Here’s what I do know about poetry: You are never too old for Shel Silverstein.
This animated version of The Giving Tree, with narration by Shel Silverstein himself, made me cry. Right now. I am crying. It was my favorite book as a child and is still one of my favorites as a 20 year-old college student.
The thing about Silverstein’s poems is that they are not just for kids. They may be accompanied by child-like animation and they may on the surface seem simple and easy, but it is in their simplicity where genius is found. Children see the world in a way that most adults, too consumed with the headaches of life, are unable to easily see. Silverstein writes what children see. He reminds us all of what it is like to view the world in its purest form. A world without stereotypes, biases, and social norms.
As someone who often feels lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood (much like Britney Spears, when she was not a girl but not yet a woman), a read through Where The Sidewalk Ends or Falling Up helps to clear my mind and reminds me that “where I am in life” is not a real thing. There is not a definitive physical timeline for life.
I was only eight when Shel Silverstein passed away but I remember the genuine sadness that came over me when I heard the news. I thought he was going to write me new poetry forever. As an eight year-old I was still pretty sure that some people could live forever and I wanted those people to be Shel Silverstein, Ginger Spice, and me. Unfortunately Shel the person did not live forever (I’m still crossing my fingers for Ginger) but Shel the poetry did.
Top Five Shel Silverstein Books
by a Twelve Year-Old Who Lives with Laneia
Shel Silverstein has been my favorite poet since I was little, basically because of all of the humor and pretty strange pictures. I think I first started looking into Shel’s writing when I was very young and my mom had A Light in the Attic, which is my favorite of his books. Here are the others, in reverse order, plus their best parts.
5. Falling Up
It’s the fabulous castle of Now.
You can walk in and wander about,
But it’s so very thin,
Once you are, then you’ve been—
And soon as you’re in, you’re out.
“Hi,” it said
“Hi,” said the piece.
“Are you anybody else’s missing piece?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Well, maybe you want to be your own piece?”
“I can be someone’s and sstill be my own.”
“Well, maybe you don’t want to be mine.”
“Maybe I do.”
“Maybe we won’t fit….”
The entire book is the best part.
I’ll stir me around with this big wooden spoon
And serve myself up at a quarter to noon.
So bring out your stew bowls,
You gobblers and snackers.
Farewell–and I hope you enjoy me with crackers!
from The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt
Yes, I have an Exactlywatt on a chain!
—–Exactly what on a chain?
Share your Shel Silverstein feelings in the comments!