Happy National Poetry Month! It seems as though April is National Poetry Month, which didn’t occur to me until last week, which I worry makes it a little late to get involved in all the festivities, like NaPoWriMo, a challenge in which poets write one poem each day all month.
However, despite my being a little late, I want to get involved in this cause (can poetry month be considered a cause?) by sharing some of my favourite poems, which have been influential in my life.
Today I’m posting the poem “Sick” by Shel Silverstein. Silverstein was my first “favourite poet” and I’ve loved his work since I was little (which makes a lot of sense, seeing as he wrote for children). While this may not have been the first poem I ever read, it’s the first poem I can recall reading and it’s still one of my favourite poems. I read it for the first time when I was in grade two, and in a way it was kind of life changing.
I was one of the “late readers”, placed in the teeny, tiny remedial reading group, also known as “the stupid group”, deny it as our teachers might. At the ripe old age of seven-and-a-half (and a quarter) I was still slowly making my way through picture books, while it seemed as though all the rest of my peers were reading what seemed like epic novels, consisting of ten whole chapters. Aside from the social stigma, I was none too bothered by my lack of reading skills.
Then in my little, six-person reading group we read the poem “Sick”, and I fell in love. Not only did it make me laugh, but it was relatable, it resonated with my entire seven-and-a-half-year-old being. It was the piece of writing that taught me the merits of the written word, and made me care about learning how to read. (Well that may be romanticizing the experience just a little, but still.) I went home that night and told my family all about this wonderful poem that we had read in school. I was so excited that my group was presenting it to the class that I practiced my few lines over and over so I’d be able to share it with the class effectively, so they could also appreciate its awesomeness.
Now, of course, I’ve caught up with, and perhaps even surpassed, my peers as far as reading goes; in fact, I’m one of the few people in my Literature class that actually bothers to finish the assigned reading on time and I’m getting pretty good grades in that class so far — if I do say so myself.
Attributing my ability to read and my love for literature entirely to a single poem that I read in grade two is perhaps a big leap. Regardless, I’m still very appreciative to Shel Silverstein and this poem, and furthermore, to the teacher who taught me this poem, because it showed me how enjoyable reading can be, and motivated me to care about learning how to read.
You can read the poem here, and hopefully I’ll post some more before the month is out.
Have you read any memorable poems that really stayed with you?