We have a new puppy, Rosy. The other day, I heard her barking and remembered a favorite old poem I’d saved long ago. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate its clever wordplay.
Motto For a Dog
I love this little house because
It offers after dark,
A pause for rest, a rest for paws,
A place to moor my bark.
The last line always grabs me. I didn’t realize the double meaning at first: a bark is a kind of boat; of course, a dog’s bark would be moored (tied up) somewhere cozy and safe. And the pause/paws homonyms add to the poem’s genius.
I looked up Arthur Guiterman and found a Wikipedia entry plus a 1915 (!) New York Times article (read a .pdf here) in which he gives advice on how to make a living as poet. Notice the article’s author: Joyce Kilmer! According to Kilmer’s Poetry Foundation bio, he was on staff at the New York Times around then. I love discovering tidbits like that.
I keep lots of Other People’s Poems on my computer in a file labeled “Inspiration.” I turned to that file last year when I visited an elementary school on National Poem in Your Pocket Day. I printed a stack of pocket-sized poems in case anyone needed one. Most students came prepared, but some of the parents at the evening assembly were empty-pocketed, so I was glad I had extras.
Do you have an “Inspiration” file? What’s in it?
Be sure to check out our other Teaching Authors posts in this series. April started with Steven Withrow’s “What Makes a Turbine Turn” from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell's new anthology, The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for KIDS.
Mary Ann shared the moving and memorable “92” by e.e. cummings, and then April returned with a Wednesday Writing Workout about rhyming patterns in poetry.
Last year for National Poetry Month, I wrote a haiku a day. You can read all thirty poems on my web site. This year, school visits and deadlines made me decide to focus on reading more poetry. I’m happy to have so many options available! Laura Purdie Salas has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Enjoy!
Check out Bruce Black’s interview with me at Wordswimmer.
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JoAnn Early Macken