Monday, November 5, 2012

A Lesson in the Love of Words

by Julia Buckley

I just started teaching a nine-week creative writing class. The group is ideal: there are only ten of them (as opposed to the group twice that size I'll have next semester). They are all teenage girls who are super creative, and at least two of them want to be novelists. They are enthusiastic about everything we do. And last Friday, we were all inspired by a certain poem for various reasons.

It's a free verse by Billy Collins called "Litany." First I had the girls listen while the poet read his own work, which you can see here.  He reads it like the college professor that he is, investing the poem with a wry humor and an ironic wink at the idea of metaphor in love poetry.

But then we watched the same poem recited by a three-year-old child.  You can see him in the box below. The girls unanimously agreed that they loved the child's recitation more.  Why? I asked.  Because, they said, he obviously took such pleasure in the words he was saying; he loved them.


How important do you think it is to love the words you are writing or reading?  What did you think of this child's recitation?  According to the notes written by his mother, this is not the only poem he memorized at this tiny age--he memorizes text as a hobby.

What's the last thing you memorized?  What are the words you love best?  Did this boy inspire you?  Did he make you cry?

I'd love to hear your feedback about words and our hearts; please share on this bright November Monday.


JJM said...

Collins knows he's being facetious, and that his audience is in on the joke.

The boy has no idea. He plays it straight.

And oh, what a difference ... I think I like the boy's recitation better, as well. It would, however, take me an essay much lengthier than your blog entry to explore just why ...

Thank you, Julia, for today's blog entry. That's actually a very good lesson in creative writing.--Mario R.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Absolutely priceless, Julia--how wonderful it must be to have you as a teacher! I listened to the boy first, then Collins, then the boy again. I think hearing both of them, in the order you intended, is the most powerful experience. I loved the way the little guy really got into it at the end, starting with the sound of rain on the roof. I also loved the way he went on playing with his toys as he recited. Multitasking starts early!

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Mario--it was really energizing for the class and me!

Liz, I was struck by the fact that he was playing, too--how amazing that he can recite a poem and still work with his toys; but I guess both are play to him.

His little face almost makes me cry; it's so earnest and tender. Especially when he says, "But don't worry . . . ." ;)