Monday, 18 November 2013

Poetry and breathing

I feel like I'm just quickly coming up for air before I sink back down into the madness. Why does the end of the year seem to speed up suddenly? It always takes me by surprise. Every time.

At least there are moments of calm and in one of them, the kid discovered poetry; happy, funny little poems that we giggled about together. She listened enchanted while I read from a children's poetry book we took out the library. It was such fun to read the poems aloud and it reminded me how children's poetry lets you really play with language: trip over tongue twisters, rattle off rhythms and giggle at rhymes. It's somehow so tactile and offers both profound insight and a whole lot of nonsense. Poetry offers those moments where you go 'I know that!' and you hear a resounding human echo that restores you again.

Why then does it become so despised at high school level and beyond? Why does a barrier come down and cut the air off, when poems are actually needed to breathe?

Poems don't have to be serious or solemn and (to me anyway) they even lend themselves to children's parties. I love Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussy Cat so this became the theme for the kid's second birthday (she was obsessed with owls at the time. Cats too actually, now that I think of it, so it was perfect). Her third birthday was built around Jessica Nelson North's The Tea Party and we had a tea party in the garden. I printed the poems on the back of the invitations and had them laminated so that parents could share the poems with their children even once the party was over.

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