I wrote my first book of poetry in the fourth grade. mrs. perry’s class. mrs. perry was a large woman, jovial with glasses thick like microscope lenses and curly salt and pepper hair that had better body than many of the chicks in the pert plus commercial. it was January and we had read poems and quotes about dr. king.
mrs. perry armed us with white copy paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils and freed our eight year old minds to write poems and draw our own illustrations. once we had written the work, we did what we had no idea many writers must do. we self-published. we were responsible for writing, illustrating, binding, and coming up with cover art. my friend porsha had the genius idea of using old hand towels as the cover. my hand towel had a blue butterfly spread across it which matched perfectly with the electric blue duct tape that would become the book’s spine.
mrs. perry encouraged something that my mom had started in me before I was born. a love for words. mrs. perry’s book assignment showed me the power of not only honoring my own words but that words can be a gift that you leave for others. like an inheritance. today, I don’t have that blue butterfly hand towel or the duct tape, but I’m still writing, illustrating, packaging, hoping that someone will happen upon these words and find encouragement in them. in honor of national poetry month…ten quotes about poetry.
1. Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. ...If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.—Nikki Giovanni
2. I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others.-- Molière [Jean Baptiste Poquelin]
3. But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents. – William Carlos Williams
4. All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’ – Sonia Sanchez
5. One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
6. The trouble with America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy. – Louis Kronenberger
7. My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. – John Lennon
8. I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. – Pablo Neruda
9. At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. – Plato
10. Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun. It is doing that always doing that, doing that and doing nothing but that. Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns. That is what poetry does, that is what poetry has to do no matter what kind of poetry it is. And there are a great many kinds of poetry. – Gertrude Stein