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Thursday, January 29, 2009

CHILDREN FREE TO WRITE POETRY

Today, I read a very raw letter that my son wrote a long time ago. It is good to have. It wasn’t written to me, but to his birth mother. I myself write from a raw place many times. I find it healing and a source for bringing clarity and richness to my understanding.

I have lots of books. But most of them I have never read. Several weeks ago, I began to finally use some exercise equipment that I bought years ago. It is upstairs, although I live mainly on the first floor of my home. I have noticed that there are places in my own home where I feel more comfortable going than others. So now I have found a reason to venture to a place in my house every day, that has a far away feeling to it. The equipment is surrounded by nine shelves of books. When I need a breathing break while doing the aerobic exercise, I reach for a book and read for a short while. Recently I picked up book that has poetry by children in it.

Below I have put the foreword to the book. It is a book for teachers and parents to understand how to nurture creative writing in our children. But also in adults.
This is taken from the book:

“…a girl writes

It’s hard to wrestle with some people,
But harder still to wrestle with life.
I seem always to lose…
But some day I shall win.

Such confessions as this are valuable to adults; they show us children struggling no less than we, to be accepted, to be adequate. Often they astonish us by revealing to us how little we know about certain children. To judge by his behavior, here is a nine-year-old boy who seems the least reflective, the most heedless, the most insensitive of children, and yet he writes:

Loneliness

Something is missing from my life,
It makes me sad and lonely.
I can’t play, I can’t think.
My heart shakes in me like a hammer.
I try to take my thought off of it,
But I cannot.”



“One twelve-year-old writes…
What is sorrow?

Sorrow is a dark cloud
That has moved across
The sun of happiness.

…This same child into whose life had come the shock of parental separation and financial insecurity, wrote a poem she called “Contentment.” Much of her contentment may have arisen from the writing, for during the poetry hour she seemed relaxed although completely absorbed, and she would remain at her writing long after the group had been dismissed for play.

Contentment

It is a gray day
And I am happy.
I am not happy because something special
is going to happen,
I am happy because I am content.
I am satisfied with everything.
I do not wish I was somebody else,
I am glad I am just I.
I do not wish that you would be different,
I like you just the way you are."

The book
Children Write Poetry - A Creative Approach by Flora J. Arnstein

The foreword
written by Hughes Mearns, Chairman of the Department of Creative Education, New York University, August 12, 1946

“…The beginning years are most important. Then it is that the creative spirit must be released again and again, and in an environment wholly favorable to it, for it must have the long, slow chance to grow in strength. And alien and unsympathetic world could easily kill it unless it is protected and nurtured in the early years.

Not only beauty but wisdom is here; and kindness, pity, mercy, a care for living things, love of the world, unprejudiced observation, instinctive insight, the joy of sharing, a reaching out to other peoples, the very core of humanitarianism. It is there, and always has been there, in the guarded secrecy of child thinking and child feeling, an amazing potential power, which could some day remake a troubled and distracted world.

Flora Arnstein belongs to that small but growing group of artist teachers who know that guided self-expression opens up important paths not only to cultural living but also to learning, to morality, and to health; that each revelation of the inner spirit thus successfully handled by adult guides has canceled at once a hundred personal and social problems of the faraway future.”


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