April 12, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2011

National Poetry Month Issue 22

We were driving down a highway -- my father at the wheel, my mother in the passenger seat. I was in the back with my brother, who must have been an infant.

I began to read the advertising Billboards. There were no Bob Books or Dick and Jane Primers. Before that car ride, I understood what letters were, but not what their job was. A magic wand touched my brain. The library fairy visited me. The synapses began to purr. I was reading.

For National Poetry Month, I've been posting a different Maryland poet each day. Here is Maryland poet Margaret S. Mullins with "Kindergarten," a poem that captures the feeling of being new to reading.

by Margaret S. Mullins

She's five and wears a uniform
of khaki pants and dark blue shirts.
She says she's ten and rides a horse;
her teacher says she talks too much.
She's learned now what those symbols do,
the ones in books and on the sings
and in the Sunday New York Times.
They all mean sounds, and she knows how
to pull them with her mouth into
the sounds that make the magic words
that open up enchanted worlds
where princesses and dragons dwell
and she is ten and rides a horse.

Posted with permission of the author. You can find more of Margaret's work here.

Writing Exercise:
We've been talking about transitions in the last two days. Yesterday, Sue Ellen Thompson's poem "Napping" showed the gentle transition of an elderly parent -- out of routine and into the unknown of late life.

Today, Margaret S. Mullins shows a child transitioning, not just from non-reader to reader, but to a person who has a sense of self and some idea about who she will be in the future.

Both poems are portraits. Both use telling details (the afghan in "Napping," the New York Times in "Kindergarten") to help us know the subject of the portrait.

Let's work with the telling detail today. Write a brief portrait of someone you know. It  might be a good idea to begin with free writing -- a big, lumpy paragraph. The revealing detail will sneak in there. When you read over your work and say, "How did a Beta Fish get in there?" you'll know you're on the right track.

Hosting Poetry Friday today is Kate at Book Aunt. Enjoy! There's only one more NPM Poetry Friday left.


Tara said...

I've gone back and forth between these two poems ("Kindergarten" and "Napping"0...they bookend each other in a most lovely way.

Mary Lee said...

How amazing and wonderful that you have a shining jewel of a memory of the first time you read!!