Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers

July 12, 2009


I have always been admiring of and intrigued by people who are able to express their wisdom and insight in a clear and pithy manner. Here are a few gems on writing.

“The total life of the writer
is the source of his work,
all of these go into his writing
in varying quantities:

the sense, as of taste and touch,
the rate of metabolism, blood pressure,
the digestion, body temperature,
the memory of things past,
perhaps going back to the childhood
not only of the writer but of the race itself.

The success of his work
depends on the liveliness
and alertness of his brain,
previous reading of books,
shrewdness of insight into human character,
his ear for the sound of language.

The writer, therefore,
must have a more than ordinary
capacity for life
and the power to retain what he experiences.”

Paul Engle

“I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn’t, I would die.” Isaac Asimov

“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way … people look at reality, then you can change it.” James Arthur Baldwin

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” Saul David Alinsky

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Franz Kafka

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better” Maxim Gorky

Tales my Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me


Did You Like that Poem?

June 24, 2009

Nuna sorry note0001

I remember, as if it were yesterday, how my Enlgish teacher extracted a handkerchief from her bag before reading the words
“The boy stood on the burning deck
Where all but he had fled” (Casabianca by Mrs Felicia Dorothea Hermans) She confessed that this poem always made her cry. I found poetry very evocative at that time too.
“Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill
The Highwayman came riding, riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming …” The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes had me riding in my imagination with the Highwayman having anticipated the terrible denouement of the poem.
“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti evoked the most phantasmagoric images in my mind.
I liked it when we “did” poetry because even then I realized its’ appreciation required both intellect and emotion.

In my children’s gneration great emphasis was laid on getting children to write poetry. The following poem was written by my eldest son aged eleven. It doesn’t have a title.

I toil and I toil to get it ready
At last it is ready and I go back for tea
Later that day I go back to see if it has survived
And I see the greedy sea has taken away my sand city
Washed it completely away
Just leaving a desolate beach
And I walk back sadly
thinking about my sand city.

The next two poems were written by my daughter when she was ten.

The Sea Shells

The Shells I like are all over the land
Oh! so elegant and so grand
Smooth, spikey, hollow and bumpy
I’m so happy no one should be grumpy.

Rainbows inside the mothers of pearls,
Some shells have got the most amazing twirls.
Sandy ones pulled up at night.

I like shells
They don’t have any smells –
Because their washed clean
By the friendly waters.

Another of the many poems she wrote is
A Travelling Child

Everywhere people stared,
Looking at our tattered clothes.
No one seems to like us much,
We stopped in front of a big house
The people said you awful people

The next day when I went to school,
The children there called me names,
Like, you are nasty and very cruel.
As I was walking home,
Three girls came by and took me there.

Now we know that gypsies are not welcome
In and about other peoples’ homes
Only a few children like us here
And let us play their games.
Its’ hard being a gypsy you know!

My youngest son made up many poems and he also painted and drew a lot. He wrote this poem about a bee when he was eight.

The Humble Bee

Through the garden
While the summer sun
Beats down
on your coat
of golden Brown.

All day long
you come and go
Where the shining
Blossoms blow,
sipping every sweet
you see
Rumble, tumble
Humble bee!

I like the directness, freshness and observations the children made. The poem about the sand city certainly shows an understanding of the transcience of the material world.

I don’t often write poetry. The following poem came to me after seeing a young man who perhaps had full blown AIDS begging on the Tube in London.


He appeared on the Tube Train as if apported from the Land of Death

A pale, shaven-headed cadaver, veins knotted,sinewy, silted , stagnant rivers

“I’m sorry to bother you” he said sofltly, well-spoken “but…….”

A skeletal hand mechanically brings a paper cup into eyeline sight

Rustling in pockets and purses confirms our recognition of Death

We do our best to alleviate his one way journey

Following the beckoning hand of Death.

Dzagbe Cudjoe