Several years ago I gave a talk about writing for the children at an elementary school, just a few days after Valentine's Day. I happened to have my idea book with me, which I showed to them. In it was a Valentine's poem that I'd written for my wife -- I'd given her a different one that year, so this was my spare. The children insisted that I read it to them. The poem was about all the things I'd do for my wife if she'd be my Valentine -- like planting new flowers, grilling her favorite fish and "kissing her, oh, for hours." When I got to this line about kissing, the kids went "OOOOOOOO!" -- so I asked them whether or not they wrote poems, or anything else for that matter, for the people they loved. We talked about how it was important to let those close to us know that we love them, and I challenged the kids to a school-wide Valentine's Day poetry contest the next year, for which I would supply the prizes. There were no real contest rules except that their poems couldn't have "roses are red, violets are blue" in them. Their poems were fresh and remarkable. Here, for example, is one by Kristina, a fourth grader. It's called "My Brother"
He is not the best,
There was a long, intricately-rhymed poem by a fifth grader about her love of candy, in all its delicious forms, which she titled "My Sweet Confection Affection," and then there was this take on the nature of love from Josť, a fourth grader:
Love is warm as a fire
But my absolute favorite was the poem of a first grader named Garrett. He called it "Things I Love":
I love my baby dogs.
Zorba, though much older, couldn't have put it any better than that.
Copyright 2003 © John Cech
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