Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gen X and Shel Silverstein (Week 16 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

Many Gen Xers grew up with Shel Silverstein's iconic works of children's poetry, either because they had his books, or because their teacher read his poetry in class on some Friday afternoon when everyone was ready for the weekend and in the mood for something funny.  Shel had an impact on our sense of humor, our sense of creativity, and even our sense of morality.  

I loved his 'epic' poetry like Sick about the girl who woke up and said she could not go to school because of a very extensive list of ailments until she discovers it's Saturday and all of the sudden feels just fine.  I also loved the beauty in the simplicity of those that were just a few lines long.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be tough, but I might go with Two Boxes - I love way they meet on the road and go home hand in hand to have some dinner.

Today, a posthumous collection was released.  I ordered mine online weeks ago and I was counting the days for it to be shipped.  It arrived on my doorstep today and I devoured it.  Those familiar with his work will appreciate how his illustrations make the writing come alive.  Just like all his poetry, you will laugh and laugh until all of the sudden there's a little twist, and suddenly you feel a little pain to the heart, or you feel that you have just learned something extraordinary.  If the main calling of a writer is to express the human condition, then this will involve both a bit of laughter and a stream of tears.

The poem that really struck me is called Dirty Face.  It is a message to adults who have forgotten about the joy of childhood.  An adult asks a child "Where did you get such a dirty face...?"  The child replies with a whole list of amazing and fun things he did during the day.  It ends with "I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears/And from having more fun than you've had in years."

If you read Shel's poetry as a child, then the message he is sending you as an adult is don't forget to have fun.

Shel Silverstein 1930-1999

(c) 2013 by Chloe - all rights reserved

(Copyright for book cover and poetry: 2011 Evil Eye, LLC/Harper Collins Publishers) 

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