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It’s Poetry Month!


Read any good poems lately?  April is National Poetry Month, first designated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, and is the largest world-wide literary celebration. 

            Some of us first studied poetry as high school students. We memorized lines from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” aloud in English class.

Memories of reciting, ‘Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary’ and reading ‘O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’ might cause you to inhale quickly and deeply.

But you probably smile when you hear one of the most quoted poems:  Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.  Jane Taylor’s lullaby was first published in 1806. One of my Grands was surprised when she learned that Twinkle, Twinkle is a five-stanza poem.  “Read it again, Gran,” she said.  “Is it really more than 200 hundred years old?”

            Years ago, I began reading poetry to our Grands while we ate breakfast after they spent the night with Husband and me.  We read the traditional Mother Goose poems, but the favorites are Shel Silverstein’s poems.

            Silverstein’s first book, Where the Side Walk Ends, was published in 1974 and the copy that belongs to Daughter is literally falling apart and is still on my kitchen bookshelf.  The back inside cover lists poems we read often.  My favorite is Hug O’ War.

I will not play at tug o’ war,

I’d rather play at hug o’war,

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

And rolls on the rug,

Where everyone kisses,

And everyone grins,

And everyone cuddles,

And everyone wins.

Micah, age 8, said, “Will you read the one about the king?”  I didn’t know a poem about a king, but Micah’s older sister, Annabel, searched until she found an ink drawing of a king.  “It’s Peanut Butter Sandwich.”       

“And the king eats peanut butter sandwiches!” said Micah.  Annabel read that the king’s mouth stuck quite tight from a last bite of a peanut-butter sandwich.  Neither a wizard, a dentist, a doc, a plumber, a carpenter, nor a fireman could unlock the king’s jaws.  For twenty years, they toiled until finally every man, woman, girl, and boy pulled and then ‘kerack,’ they broke through that sandwich. 

“Wait!” said Micah, “I know what he said: I want a peanut butter sandwich!”

Annabel grinned, then continued.  “The first words that they heard him speak were how about a peanut-butter sandwich?” 

Micah laughed and asked, “What’s the one about the boy who didn’t know about money?” That one is Smart.

My dad gave me one dollar bill

            Cause I’m his smartest son,

            And I swapped it for two shiny quarters

            Cause two is more than one!

            Micah and Annabel giggled all the way to the end as Smart trades quarters, dimes, nickels, and finally shows his dad 5 pennies. 

 Celebrate Poetry. Find a book.  Search online.  Read a poem.  Not just now – anytime.