Friday, November 16, 2007

On Poetry, Writing, and stuff like that

I started writing poetry in fourth grade.

It wasn't until high school that I began experimenting with prose poems
without rhyming words at the end.

Although I like to play with words using internal rhyming,
alliteration, and other stuff like that, I am lousy when it comes to traditional rhyme and meter schemes. Consequently, almost all of my poetry is written in the style of prose poetry.

Even with a rhyming dictionary such as the one that can be found at:, my attempts at rhyming are un-good!

Here is my latest endeavor-- the beginning of a prose poem:

The kitten ran out into the street, then stopped halfway.
He strutted up to me, staring at 60 pounds of blond
fur trying to hide behind my legs.
"Oh, what a cute kitten!" I said to the woman on the curb
as I dragged the scared dog out from her hiding place.
"You want him?" she asked.
"He's going to the pound in an hour along with his
two brothers and one sister."

Rhyming used to be much more popular and in my opinion, people used to be better at it. Some rhymed poetry has become classic.

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
and so are you.

There are other variations out there.
Roger Miller wrote this one:

They say roses are red
And violets are purple,
Sugar is sweet
And so is maple surple.

Here are a couple more that I've heard:

Roses are blue,
violets are red.
If you believe this,
you're sick in the head.

Roses are red.
Violets are bluish.
My audience has all fled
cuz at rhyming I'm newish.

Violets are blue
and roses are red.
I'm 'llergic to them it's true,
so I'll have the fake ones instead.

My dad is a big fan of Shel Silverman, thus as a kid I got to hear dad's renditions of many of his songs and verses.
Dad would recite random ditties such as
"I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you this right now-- I'd rather see than be one."
And the ultra-risque "Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your britches and slide on the ice."
He would sing out, "There's a dead skunk in the middle of the road" whenever there was one and he knew all the words to fun songs like "I don't want a pickle, I just want to ride my motor-sickle. And I don't want to die. I just want to ride my motorcy------cle."
He too liked the sound of words.
I never read anything he wrote though and I wonder now if he himself has written anything.
I shall have to ask him about that.

I remember when I got older that dad had a subscription to Omni right along with his subscription to Playboy.
I counted myself lucky because I was able to read both.
I never did tell my mother about the Playboy articles. She wouldn't have appreciated it.
Dad also was interested in psychology, an interest which I share. He allowed me free reign to his own book collection, much as my maternal grandmother did. I read what I wanted there and there was no judgement about material being "too old" for me.
Things I didn't understand he explained in ways that I understood.

My mother sold me on Robert Lewis Stevenson and I spent lots of time reading his stuff.
My mother didn't break out into spontaneous song or verses but she did encourage me to write my own poems.
And she knew that Saturday was Library Day as far as I was concerned.

Many Saturdays I walked the couple miles to the library where I would search the aisles for books to check out. I always walked to and from the library, although the buses were available and I knew how to use them. On one such walk, my younger friend Richard and I threw ice cream cones off a bridge and one landed inside a police cruiser. On others, Richard or Grace and I stopped at the local greasy pizza spot for slices or bought cherries off the vendor on the corner. If no friends were around to go with me, I went alone. I loved the library. I can still see the outside of our neighborhood branch, the blue aluminum-looking framed windows, the take out desk, the houses and stores and streets along the way.

I enjoyed the school library also. We had a one-legged librarian-- she had bone cancer and used crutches rather than a fake leg, I don't know why-- who taught me how to find books in the library, was willing to allow some classmates and I access to the Life magazine issue with the pictures of embryos and fetuses, and always listened to what we had to say. I remember going through reading binges-- one month I read all of the biographies of scientists in the library. I also went through binges of fiction from other countries, mysteries, and series. I was a serious child. Words were everything to me. I was a word nerd.

Those trips to the library, along with helping the one-legged elementary school librarian shelve books, parents who fostered my love of words all contributed to my desire to have my stuff published. I've had lots of stuff published now and yet I can still remember the first acceptance letter, and getting a copy of the first zine with my words in it.

sapphoq the word nerd on life

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