Monday, December 10, 2007

Youth poems are both ‘Pooh’ perfect and grittily realistic

As the new copy editor for Land Line Magazine, I have read some fascinating magazine articles, columns, Web news, radio scripts, and blogs in the past few months. Few pieces, however, have been as sincerely written and poignant as the poems written by Land Line’s youth readers.

The youth entries were divided into the following categories: age 10 and under, ages 11 to 14, and ages 15 to 17. You can read the top winners for all three age categories in the February issue of Land Line Magazine.

As readers will probably recall, the poems written by adults were featured in the November issue, which was the first Land Line issue I worked on. The quality (and quantity) of entries were so impressive that I agreed to help read the poems in the 18 and younger division.

One reason I volunteered was that I’ve taught poetry to college composition students and have often been impressed by the writing ability of 18-year-olds. Sometimes, though, I have been disappointed by an exquisitely written sonnet or brilliant free verse – because what is lacking is heart and authenticity.

Our youngest poets, age 10 and under, are all about heart and authenticity. Their poems may not always display a perfect command of meter, but they bring a smile to the face and a chuckle of recognition. As that great critic Winnie the Pooh (known to all his very best friends as Pooh) said, “Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”

Here for your enjoyment is such a poem, which earned “Honorable Mention” status.

“Trucking”

By Ecko, Age 10

T – Trucks, flat face, big nose any kind, all different trucks.

R – Rest stops, coffee, soda, snacks take a break before you get back in your truck.

U – U-hauls anywhere, everybody has to drive for something somewhere.

C – Cars you have to watch for and even motorcycles, walkers, and bike riders.

K – Kids from bus stops you have to be careful they even might go honk, honk.

I – It’s getting late so you might want to get some sleep to be new tomorrow.

N – Near, far you still miss your family, everybody always misses someone.

G – Grant Trucking is my family business!

Ecko is from Maine. Her father is an owner-operator truck driver and OOIDA member.

Another “Honorable Mention” entry takes us along for a ride, giving us specific details and vivid imagery. As Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) wrote in a letter to a friend: “Prose wanders around with a lantern and laboriously schedules and verifies the details and particulars of a valley and its frame of crags and peaks, then Poetry comes, and lays bare the whole landscape with a single splendid flash.”

This young poet does just that.

“The Trucker”

By Jason, Age 14

Sitting alone in the cab of a Pete,

A long way to go ‘til I find my way,

Traveling the roads on an air-ride seat,

To reach my next stop the following day.

I’m backed in early, offloading the flour,

Got the freight off quick and loaded again,

I’m shifting to tenth at half past the hour,

Heading for PA, blasting down I-10.

Called up ahead and the roads are all clear,

I’ll be home soon if I keep at this pace,

Popping the clutch and splitting eighteenth gear,

Into town to deliver to the place.

Now I’m back at home for just a few days,

I’m not home a lot, but boy this job pays!

Jason lives in Pennsylvania. His dad has been driving long haul for 30-some years.