Education - Inspiring Children To Write Poetry

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As I laid in bed tonight I thought about what I might say the next time I address a group of children about poetry as I was privileged to do a few months ago. My mind started racing and here I am back on Hubpages to sketch it out...

A poet can feel your pain
And express his own
He has an opinion
And will stand alone
He will tell of things
He thinks in the night
He only cares
About what is right
He will make you think
About life and who you are
It may be painful
It may open a scar
You will know by his words
That his mind does burn
And even if you disagree
You will soon return
Because he will tell you
The truth as only he can
And in this world of rhyme
Only the strong will stand

A few months ago
I knew we would speak
As I lay in bed
I imagined what I would say
To a roomful of children
That I’d never met before
It was 2:00 AM and I couldn't sleep
So I jumped up and wrote most of this on the spot
Just so you know
I’m not a professional speaker
But I am a person
Just like you

And I know how I feel about things
I started writing because I became tired of war
And because I want my children to know how I think
So I’m here to talk about poetry
I view poetry as a combination of art and opinion/experience
But in reality
I'm here to talk about life
Your teachers are helping you
They are giving you the tools you need
So you can take care of yourself as an adult
They teach you English and Spanish
And Math and Science
But these are just like a hammer
Or a saw or a drill
They are in your tool chest
You know…
In your mind
I like to call it the braided mind
Because it's a blend or a braid of three things
The Intellectual
The emotional
The spiritual
And as a child you are trying to develop these things
I think being a poet can help
In my opinion most failures are due to emotional immaturity
It seems that school typically concentrates on the intellectual
But the emotional side is very important
And you need to develop this too
So I have a question for you
And I find the answer to this question to be very important
It helps as you interact with people
It helps you be a true poet

Can you put yourself in another person's shoes?
Can you UNDERSTAND their problems?
What about this question?

Can you accept the truth even if it conflicts with everything you believe?
That’s a tough one
I have two other questions

Do you have a need to be cool?
Are you a trend-setter or are you trendy?
I used to worry about stuff like that

The answers to these questions involve lessons of maturity
That's why I ask

I know it is difficult to go against the grain
To stand alone in a mob
It is a huge personal challenge
So what is it about emotional maturity that involves poetry?
It can teach to think for yourself
To be unswayed by the wrong thing
Even if everyone else disagrees with you
The poet offers his true feelings without regard to criticism

You are the poet
You are not affected by mere opinion
You are affected by truth
Here is another question

How do you feel about life?
Because we want to know
Because you are the poet

We want you to make us see what you see
With words
We want you to make us feel what you feel
With words
If you can think like this
And open your mind to the things around you
Then you will always feel alive
This is the way I try to think
And because of this I am never bored

I didn’t say I wasn’t boring!
I said I am never bored

Because my mind is always feeling things
And then I communicate
The ability to effectively communicate is critical
That is why you study the rules of language
But what are you going to do
With what you have learned?
There are so many possibilities
But what you have to know
Is that nothing is impossible
Look at me
I’m 53 years old
That’s probably pretty old to you
And it sounds old to me too
Just the other day
I received an offer for senior citizens
Senior citizens!
Like my life was over or something
But look at me
I’m here talking to you
It's because I decided I wanted to speak out
I wanted to be a poet
And I started down that road four years ago
So I was already old when I started something new
But look at you
You are young
Is it too early for you?
Like some say it’s too late for me?
NO!
You can start now
You can start thinking
You can start being who you are
But will you dare
Or will you worry about what someone may think?
Understand what I am saying
I’m not talking about doing what you want
So you can hurt someone
Or cheat your way through life
Or disrupt your teacher
I’m talking about being who you are
And not being afraid
Being tough
But not stubborn
Being able to care
But not obsessing
Being able to forgive
But not being easy
Being wise
But not arrogant
So what about poetry?
Do you think that men write poetry?
Do you think that men have feelings?
Do you think that men can make rhymes?
You better believe it
Because men feel things like women do
We all do

We can be mad
But don’t stay mad
That’s the secret
We can feel sorrow
But don’t stay sorrowful
It’s a matter of understanding why
Why do you feel that way
Then deal with it
Because if you deal with it
Then you own it
Then you control it
So it doesn’t control you
When I am sad or mad
I don’t just fall apart
But I don’t deny the feelings either
Sometimes we carry these feelings with us
And they eat away at our insides
Why?
Because we don’t really confront them
We let them sit there
Ready to pounce

So how do you do control that?
For me that’s where writing comes in
I try to express what it is that I am feeling
Then I write about it
And it becomes easier and easier
Why?
Because it’s my true self
I know myself
I know how I feel
So I tell myself
Then I tell you
And when I am willing to tell somebody
That’s when the magic starts to happen
Now… I feel things
But it’s not always about me
Sometimes it’s about someone else
There is something philosophers call a priori
That means you can see something that is true
Without having to experience it for yourself
And when you can feel that pain
Without experiencing it yourself
Then that’s called empathy
That’s when you put their shoes on
That’s when you know about their life
Then you realize they are real
Just like you
And then that’s when you can speak
About others
About right and wrong
Because then you don’t have to wait
Until it happens to you
Because what kind of life is that
Just waiting for something bad to happen
To you
Before you care
Maybe you are already angry
Maybe you aren’t popular
Maybe you’ve been picked on
What should you do?
Pick a fight?
Steal something?
Do something wrong?
No!
Think about Martin Luther King
He was made to feel less than a man
He didn’t have the rights others had
Just because of the color of his skin
He was humiliated
Do you know what that word means?
Do you know how that feels?
To be intensely made fun of
Or ridiculed
But what did he do?
He stood up for what is right
He used his anger wisely
He didn’t strike back
But he was not meek
He stood up and said
That is wrong
And he knew he would be hated
He knew he would be in danger
But that anger became the fuel
For greatness
And change in mankind
And he did not strike a blow with his fists
He just walked and sat
Where he was told he could not
He turned the other cheek
But he held his ground
And he won
Because they knew he was right
And what is right never loses
It just takes someone to say
It’s time to be right
What about Gandhi?
He was a small man
He was one man
Like Martin Luther King
Gandhi was a lawyer
But you don’t have to go to law school to understand

But to instinctively know about right and wrong
Means to know in your heart
Nobody has to tell you
You don’t have to read it in a book
You just know
And he knew
But he didn’t strike a blow
He just walked and sat
Where he was not allowed
And he became a great man
So what does this all mean?
It means you can think now
It means you can know now
It means that you can stand up
For right and against what is wrong
Because when you do
You will become very powerful
People will respect you
Some will fear you
I’m not saying walk around pointing fingers
But I am saying stand up for yourself
Don’t be swayed
Don’t let someone convince you otherwise
You are ready to be a leader
For good
Why not today?
But you do not have to wait
For something to happen
You can write about it now
You have your mind open
Remember
I’m not too old to live
And you’re not too young to live
So we both will express our feelings
And become poets
Because there is a dignity to this
It teaches you to be human
And to be alive
In any situation
Regardless of where you are
Or who you are with
Because life suddenly has meaning
In every moment
And you can be a part of each moment
If you let yourself be
Will you?
There is another challenge
Accepting truth
Sounds easy
But it’s not
To be a truth-seeker
You must be willing to be open minded
You must be willing to change
No matter what
Because the truth is the truth
It doesn’t care what you believe
It lives in its own world
To be a poet
You must be free
You must be willing to speak
About truth
Not to make yourself look good
Or to justify yourself
But for the sake of truth only
There is nothing like it
They say it can set you free
And it is true
I know it to be true
Because in my life
When I was honest
Not in a hurtful way
But in a compassionate way
Then I was able to be free mentally
Free of worries
Free of burdens
Because there was nothing to hide
And I knew I was in control
Of my mind
And nobody can brainwash me
I will listen
And I will consider what you say
But I won’t automatically believe it
Just because it’s on TV
Or the internet
Or because somebody said it loudly
Loud doesn’t mean right
Loud just means loud
So to be a true poet
You have to tell us what you really think
That means tell us the truth about your feelings
No matter what it is
Because when we read truth
From someone’s heart
We are drawn in
Because that is a rare thing in this world
It’s not a matter of making rhymes
It’s a matter of life
And people crave honesty
And sincerity
And courage
Tell us about fear
About sadness
About joy
About sorrow
Are you ready?
Inspiration has its own clock
And when you feel these things
Your pen will know what to do
This is what we want
From you
Can you do it?


Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved. Mark Lecuona aka The Suburban Poet

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Comments 19 comments

Majadez profile image

Majadez 5 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

I love your honestly and bluntness here. Can we do it? I don't know but I'm trying. ;)

"I’m not too old to live

And you’re not too young to live"

I'll remember this. I think many of us sometimes see age as a barrier, but it's not about age, it's just about living! We all have the same 24 hours each day, just some of us have had more of them in the past...


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Majadez - Thank you. I will be addressing some 4th graders some time next year as I did this past April. It was a tremendous experience as they responded very well and they even asked for my autograph! They had been studying poetry and the teacher (who I know from college) slipped some of my work in so they think I'm a real poet! I wanted to get everything written down so I put it here on Hubpages...

As for the age comment it's true. There is no reason to be stopped because of age. If you want to do something in terms of accomplishment or change your life or whatever you should just do what is right for you and not worry about waiting or passing up on it. I am blessed that I found the interest in poetry and feel more fulfilled by this than anything I've ever done (sports, playing piano).... it makes me feel alive and relevant...


Sandyksk profile image

Sandyksk 5 years ago from Sanger

I'd be interested how teens would take this...great philosophies for all ages. I'd like my teenage grand-daughter to read this. Maybe she'll ~write~ me back...and tell me...:)

Thank you...many good ~feelings~ vibrating from these words! :)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Sandyksk - Thank you for commenting. I wonder too if teenagers would enjoy this presentation. I was not sure how it would work with a bunch of 4th graders (there were 60 in the room) but it went well. I try to speak with passion and swagger but also in a way that is accessible. I hope to be able to deliver this to another group next year...

I hope your granddaughter reads it. It would be interesting to hear her reaction. It's kinda long but it's not like reading 500 pages either!


prashant angiras profile image

prashant angiras 5 years ago from shimla(india)

Suburban poet i liked the way you addressed the children,the lines you have written are full of motivation and evocative,at least some of the children must have been convinced to think about themselves,good and bad,the truth etc.and some will become poet...


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@prashant agniras - I made a similar presentation a few months ago and it went well. I stand up there and get pretty intense about it. It got there attention. The group of kids were very intelligent and they were wanting to be inspired. You could see it in their eyes. I need to memorize this piece so I can deliver it as if I am speaking off the top of my head (which is what I was doing when I wrote it)... I hope it reacehs them... thank you for commenting...


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Oh, wow, am I in love w/a poem! I read poetry regularly to both my children and as much as possible to each of my three grandchildren. ".. the braided mind... " oh, what beautiful phraseology! Not sure but what that phrase could stand alone to help them write; kids understand and love braids! I may borrow this--your credit, of course! Definitely bookmarking the hub! (A fave poetry book was "The Moon Is the North Wind's Cookie," and my daughter wrote her own version--3 or 4 lines that I've unfortunately lost--of a poem in it about being scared at night and her brother being "right down the hall.' Kids definitely need every line you wrote! Awesome!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Teylina - we used three pieces of string or yarn (can't remember which) to show how strong a braid was during my previous poetry presentation. I think the visual worked well. Borrow away! I appreciate your support. Children are interested in poetry but especially if they realize it is art combined with their own opinion. That is a powerful combination and it's interesting to see the light bulb going off in their head....


asmaiftikhar profile image

asmaiftikhar 5 years ago from Pakistan

voted up dear.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@asmaiftikhar - Thank you!


moiragallaga profile image

moiragallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Beautiful poem Suburban Poet.The effort you make to help kids appreciate and get interested in poetry is truly commendable. Keep it up and more power to you!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@moiragallaga - Thank you! I enjoy it. Hopefully I'll get the chance again soon...


V Qisya 5 years ago

Superb! voted up ;D


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@V Qisay - Thank you beautiful... I have a friend who is a writer (now retired; wrote many books) and he told me that to be a true writer the secret was to kill your parents... I said, "what?" and he said it was figurative in the sense that you have to say what you want to say and be who you are without regard to any little voice in your mind telling you how to act. If you think about anything you've written and if you did it in the vacuum of your own world then you know that what you said was good because you gave us who you are. That's what I am trying to say... nobody should control what you think when you are alone at night... that is your time and that is what we want you to reveal....


V Qisya 5 years ago

yep...wholly true ;D


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

My niece has recently completed her degree in teachers training, I'm going to send this to her. You are a great motivator, there are some gems here and I'm going to love catching up.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@tobusiness - Sorry for the delayed response. I hope your niece enjoyed it. It's a long read but I was getting into it as I wrote it up. I could feel the intensity building.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Mark,

Happy August 5th Birthday!

Thank your inspiring children to write poetry. It's a very important of their education.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thank you Daisy.... I truly appreciate it....

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