Today, April, 29th, is "Poem in Your Pocket" day and Lawrence area parents, teachers, childcare providers and artists are taking the time to enjoy and share their love of poetry with children of all ages.
Marylou Pierce, who has been running an in home childcare facility for twenty years (Pierce Childcare, 3811 Hunters Hill), uses an educational based program called, "The Home Preschool Program", as part of her daily curriculum.
As Marylou states, "they have poems, rhyming riddle poetry, and finger play poems included in their daily activities." She also uses a Mother Goose nursery rhyme videotape that she says the children love to watch. Although Marylou couldn't come up with an example, the children in her care had no problem sharing a recent poem.
Instead of taking a trip on a train
You could go much faster in a ?
The children then fill in the blank with the rhyming word of their choice - example, plane. Just be prepared for some very creative answers and a lot of laughs!
Merhrazad Zangeneh, local artist and owner of Prairie Hills Art Gallery, 2540 Iowa, says poetry is much more common in the culture where he grew up.
Merhrazad, who moved to America from Iran when he was sixteen, has fond memories of learning poetry of all forms as a child. "Everything in our culture is based on poetry," he states, "art included."
Although poetry classes were required within the school system in Iran, he says it didn't make it any easier for him when it came time to write poetry. As a father of five children - most recently three year old twin daughers, he misses that part of his culture and hopes to share it more with his own children.
Forough Farokhzad is one of his favorites. An example of one of her more simple, yet profound, poems follows:
The Bird May Die
I feel sad
I feel blue.
I go outside and rub my fingers
on the sleek shell of the night.
"I see that lights of contact are blocked,
All lights of contact are blocked."
"Nobody will introduce me to the sun,
Nobody will take me to the gathering of doves,"
Keep the flight in mind,
The bird may die.
Both Marylou and Merhazad suggest keeping early poetry introduction simple; read poetry to children early in their lives and allow them to have fun making up their own rhyming words.
Anything a child asks about can be turned into a poem and children learn easily through the natural rhythm of poetry.
Additonally, poetry is a great way for children to talk about topics that otherwise might be considered taboo (death, divorce, anger) and an easy way to share and talk about their emotions.