April 12, 2016

Friday, April 23, 2010

NPM 50 State Tour: Alabama

The more I get to know our state poets laureate on our National Poetry Month tour, the more I like them.

In Illinois, we met poet and literary critic Kevin Stein. We're moving on to Alabama -- 22nd state.

Alabama's poet laureate, Sue Brannan Walker, also writes about literature and is the publisher of Negative Capability press. She is a friend to poets, publishing  many new voices. Her own book Blood Will Bear Your Name was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. (Walker is pictured with Alabama governor

I'm sharing Walker's award-winning poem, "Grandfather's Thumb." When I work with elementary schoolers, we do a food poem workshop. (The description is here.)

I ask the kids to go beyond their five senses and think about a person they associate with a special food or foods. Here, Walker mentions the foods she associates with the grandfather to create a sense of comfort and sweetness.

Grandfather’s Thumb

She said
her grandfather’s thumb
was a chapter in the story
of his life, a black digit,
a hammer with which
he sometimes hit the nail,
sometimes not. She remembers
once when she was a child,
she reached out and touched it,
wondering how something ugly
could be a part of something
she loved. She said Grandpa
told her the thumb was hard labor,
and she thought he was tough—
but he was also trips to the bakery,
cream puffs and macaroons;
he was pink grapefruit
served with brown sugar
and games of checkers
on summer afternoons

The rest of the poem is at the Persimmon Tree magazine.


Anonymous said...

What a great poem. I love the question about something ugly being a part of someone we love.

I also think 'Negative Capability Press' is an awesome name.


Author Amok said...

I love poems about those moments of realization we have as children -- when kids begin to see the people they love as real human beings, with faults.

Thanks for visiting, Janet.