Thursday, January 31, 2013

Write Me a Poem, Baby


My son pulled this book off his bookshelf a couple of nights ago and asked me what it was. I got this book, written by H. Allen Smith, many years ago, but I have barely touched it since. The title, "Write Me a Poem, Baby" stuck with me though. I modified it for a post I wrote last year about the joy of reading poetry to small children.

This little gem, which was published in 1956, is a tribute to children's writing. The author explains, "I have long been a pushover for the literary strivings of small children. They are, as a general rule, much better writers than grownups. They bring a freshness and a verve to their work that is often lacking in adult writers. Their integrity is absolute. And unconsciously they are funnier than the best of our professional humorists."

My children have said many a funny thing unintentionally. And sometimes intentionally. On my son's third birthday, he was angry with his father, so he changed the lyrics to the Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" just for his dad. Instead of the words, "Here we are now, entertain us," he sang (in perfectly matched melody), "Stu-pid dad-dy, f**k-ing dad-dy." Yes, I said his third birthday. Shocking I know, but we chalked it up to above average intelligence and early verbal skills. The fact that he used one of daddy's favourite bands to hurt him was pure genius.

My son (who is now 10) chuckled as I read some of the children's writings in the book. His favourite entry was one written by a little girl in Sarnia. Her letter to her uncle, Canadian humorist Robert Thomas Allen, went like this:

Dear Uncle Bob: I fell in the river yesterday. I like being wet. Sally had four kittens. I saw a skunk. Joan won't let me play with her doll. I hope she dies. I hope you are well. Love...

I like this entry. A 10-year-old boy wrote this poem about Thanksgiving:

Thoughts on Thanksgiving Day

I have a bratty sister.
If she got lost I never would have missed her.
On the rim of the Grand Canyon , I hope,
She will slip on a piece of soap.
Though I be near
Her calls I will not hear.
Then I'd hear and turn around
And see her hurtling toward the ground.
I'm too late
To save her from her fate.
There are many who feel like this,
Whose brothers and sisters they would never miss.
Enjoy your turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving!

As the author, H. Allen Smith, notes, you must put aside your speculations on how a piece of soap got onto the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Do you have any favourite old books lying around? Or any funny kids' talk to share?

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  1. Too hilarious, all of it! Love the book & your son's musically inclined insult. The illustrations in the book, incidentally, are awesome {& I may totally steal the one of the girl with the penguin for an embroidery project-- thank you John V. Morris!

  2. This book is adorable (your son singing Nirvana - haaa... PRICELESS)!

  3. This is awesome. I think everyone should read these! Poems from the hearts of children...really puts things in perspective doesn't it?

  4. That's a great book! And so funny about your son's little change of lyrics...

  5. What a cool book with a great title and premise. I love old books and have quite a collection. One of my favourites is an old original 'Housekeeping Hints from Heloise'.

  6. Great literary works! Love that Thanksgiving poem. My daughter once wrote out the entire song of "Found a Peanut" (please say you know this song), substituting her brother as the one who ate the peanut. Of course he died, she was thrilled, and we the parents cried and cried ... to her delight! It horrified me at the time, but obviously it's a common theme between siblings ... laughable now :) Wendy

  7. That story about your son is hilarious! Oh kids...don't they make you laugh! Wait until they are teens....they say the most incredible things too! My daughters says she knows how to drive, even though she just got her learners and has never sat behind a wheel...ever! Ha! Angie xo

  8. Ha ha your son! Love it! Those are the moments where I try not to laugh but I can't help it...

    That books looks awesome!

  9. I love this. "Their integrity is absolute." -- So true! LOVE the story about your son and the Nirvana song!!

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