My son told his mother he was going to be a poet. He explained how he was going to grow a goatee, wear his glasses, and always have his notebook handy for the writing. I cannot confirm whether or not he intends to drape himself all in black; however, his current favorite jeans to wear are indeed black. The boy is seven.
Now I thought this was a fantastic idea, other than the whole, “how-do-you-expect-to-make-a-living-from-the-humanities-in-the-21st-century” problem. And this doesn’t come as a total surprise: the boy likes Shel Silverstein and has had those books read to him and re-read them several times. Like many, he was reared on Dr. Seus.
Also, he just likes words. The telling of jokes, an early affinity for basics puns, etc. We consider this a good sign. His older sister has had a hand in this as well, having written (an illustrated) several stories for him and setting an excellent example as a constant reader.
Of course we were wondering when we might see the fruit of his labors. He then revealed he’d already begun work on his first collection and showed us his little black notebook. The wife confirmed he’d been scribbling in that notebook just after getting out of bed the previous few days (always a good idea to get some writing done first thing). He had six or seven drafts complete.
They are alliterative in structure and included a set number of animals involved in an action of some sort (often eating). No rhyming structure to be found – someone has instructed him that poems need not rhyme (something I didn’t figure out for many years). They are laid out by number and letter and included small illustrations. Like many seven-year-olds, he has opted for alternative spelling.
The B Poem
Billions of babunes
bike their blue bikes
on balloons BBBBBB.
Having committed himself to this structure, I became concerned that he’d find it too restrictive – get boxed in by his own rules. Again, thanks to Dr. Seus and Animal Planet he’s familiar with creatures for every letter in the alphabet. But what about numbers? That can get tricky… Fortunately, he has a solution:
An excerpt from The G Poem
Gozillions of gorillas…
I’m not sure how many zeros there are in a gozillion. Same question with a ‘habillion’. But I like where this is going. I also like the commitment. Sure, he may not get to 26, but he has nine so far. I knew folks in college who took half a semester to write nine whole poems!
When we asked him where he came up with the idea, he scratched his chin thoughtfully and talked about a word-game played with grandma, his sister, and an older cousin (who himself has shown some promise writing and drawing comic books). I should have known. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s lucky enough to attend a school that includes and emphasizes the arts.
At some point I will have to advise him that fiction writers have better earning potential and are generally more sane, but for now we’re pretty excited by his interest in words and the follow through to write them down.
Fortunately has a solid backup plan to support his poetry: soccer player.