April is National Poetry Month in Canada and the U.S. so poetry will be my focus for this post this month. As one of my creative writing students gleaned from an exercise she found in Maxine Hong Kingston’s To Be A Poet, poetry is about feeling and seeing, and of course, putting all that into words! Adolescence is a time of life where one is particularly aware of, and sensitive to, sights and feelings, and it is a conducive time for many for the writing of poetry. How wonderful then for the fine model of a book put out by well known Canadian poet Dennis Lee (of Alligator Pie fame) called SoCool (illus. Maryann Kovalski.) The book covers the range of adolescent experiences in that distinctively playful way with words Lee has always exhibited in his poetry. There are humorous poems about acne like “Popping Pimples in the Park” and “Pimples and Zits” and wistful poems about impending adulthood like “Back When I Never Knew.” There are poems about sexuality like “French Kissing with Gum in Your Mouth” and “The Ultimate Sensual Experience.” But the poems I liked best were the ones that spoke about living in the present like “Enough.” In “Enough,” after writing a short list of wonder-ful things like a ‘lungful of air,’ a ‘handful of friends’ and a ‘tongueful of music,’ Lee ends the poem with this stanza:
If I ever lose
The knack of wonder
Just shovel a grave
And dig me under.
Having the knack of wonder is what being a poet is all about and Lee has captured this essential truth in this poem. What is so wonderful about SoCool is this kind of zany Lee wisdom, befitting the audience to whom the book is addressed.
This week’s Poetry Friday host is at Becky’s Book Reviews.