My amazing friend and soon-to-be debut young adult author Jaye Robin Brown tagged me to participate in a blog hop about children’s poetry. Thrilling! I adore poetry!
But, hmm, children’s poetry? I have to admit, I was never a fan of the typical happy, sing-songy poetry as a child, unless you count the craziness of Dr. Seuss, because crazy is pretty awesome.
However! As a linguist and trilingual mom, I’m going to pick one snippet from each language that together represent my poetic tastes for children.
First off, English. THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES by Edward Gorey is one of my favorite books because of the illustrations as much as the text. How can you not love something that begins like this?
A is for AMY who fell down the stairs.
B is for BORIS devoured by bears.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the book takes us through an alphabet of children who met their untimely demise by at least somewhat gruesome means. Well worth a read!
In German, my favorite is the classic DER STRUWELPETER by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann.
Filled with macabre tales of misbehaving children who suffer the consequences of their actions, these stories are filled with morals like, “Eat your soup, or you will die!” and “Don’t suck your thumbs, or the thumb-cutter will come and cut them off!” My favorite tells the story of Paulinchen, who decides to play with matches:
Paulinchen war allein zu Haus,
die Eltern waren beide aus.
Als sie nun durch das Zimmer sprang
mit leichtem Mut und Sing und Sang,
da sah sie plötzlich vor sich stehn
ein Feuerzeug, nett anzusehn.
Needless to say, things don’t end all that well for Paulinchen:
Finally, Spanish. We have a wonderful book, FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA PARA NIÑOS, and interestingly, my girls’ favorite poem, Muerte de Antoñito el Camborio, is about the murder of a young man, Antoñito, by his four cousins. But it’s such a gorgeous, haunting poem!
Voces de muerte sonaron
cerca de Guadalquivir.
Voces antiguas quecercan
voz de clavel varonil.
Hope these are some interesting examples! Now on to the interview questions:
1. Who was your favorite poet as a child?
Well, I didn’t much like traditional children’s poetry, and I didn’t discover any of the gems above until I was older, but I would have loved those three if I knew about them then.
2. Who is your favorite poet now?
Rainer Maria Rilke definitely gets top honors, but I have some other favorites, including Pablo Neruda and Sylvia Plath.
3. Is there a song you consider to be poetry?
I’d argue that most songs are in fact poetry, but arguments aside, I’ve been listening to Debussy’s Clair de Lune a lot recently, which was inspired by Paul Verlaine’s poem of the same name. It begins:
Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.
I’m tagging another poetry fan and writing buddy, Angelina Hansen. Hope you can post your favorite children’s poems (or one of your own!) and thoughts next Friday for the blog hop!