Natural Poets: How To Celebrate Our Children's (Naturally) Creative Voices
I met cin salach in my store when she was shopping for a rocking chair several years ago just before her son, Leo, was born. As we were talking I learned that she has been a poet in Chicago for over 25 years and has incorporated her love of poetry with a unique way of recording Leo's development and creativity. This blog post was written by cin and will help you create your own poetry with your child in mind!
I’m a wannabe scrapbook-er. I have lots of “scraps” of my son’s first years: pictures, cards, pieces of fabric, etc. But I can’t seem to make the leap from scraps to book. Being a poet, I am much more comfortable in the realm of words, and since my son’s birth I have lots of lists and bits of paper with words and phrases he’s said and conversations we’ve had. When I get enough, I put them into a poem. These poems have become my “word scrapbooks”; a valuable record of who my son is becoming at every age, as witnessed by how he shapes his ideas and thoughts into words.
“They grow so fast!” a nurse told me after his first wellness check and encouraged me to take a weekly picture of him so I could document his beautiful progression as he grew. But no one made a similar suggestion for when he started “talking”. So I will now!
Parents, write down those first, second, twenty second, one hundred and twenty second words. You’ll be glad you did. And then don’t stop. You’ll love having all the ways they articulate their world to look back on. The only rule: Write down their words exactly. Don’t edit. Their words are all you need for fun family poems!
Here are two simple ways to start:
1. First Word Poem
Like all new parents, I was thrilled at every milestone. When my son began “talking”, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to witness him naming his world. I started a list of first words that I kept going for a year. Here is the poem that came from that. The title is also a list, of his first three words (Havel is the name of our first cat).
Mama, Havel, Banana
Wi wi means kiwi. Or strawberry.
It also means flag.
It also means penis.
The American wi wi is waving in the breeze.
Nana is banana or any type of fruit that is not kiwi or strawberries.
Fla is flower.
B-lah,b-lah,b-lah,b-lah,b-lah is frog.
Or anything that looks like a frog.
(It is surprising how many things look like a frog.)
Boo is boot or shoe or sandal.
Baby is baby or anyone who is not Mama.
Mama is mama.
Bah ooh is balloon.
Leo Salach (as observed and recorded by cin salach)
2. List poem: This is one of my favorite kinds of poems. It’s so simple and it’s a perfect form for kids because kids repeat things. A lot. Sometimes with variations. Write them down. There’s your poem. I call this my Leo’s “Self-Observation poem”. These are his words exactly how he said them at some point over a several month period:
I’m the guy
I am the ant guy.
I am the lemonade-drinking guy.
I am the guy who carries the rice.
I’m the guy who makes the decisions of the cookies.
I’m the guy who keeps dry.
I’m the guy who holds these two things.
I’m the guy that pushes a ball with a stick
I’m the guy who takes care of these two things.
We’re the guys who are brave, mama.
Leo Salach (as recorded by cin salach)