Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I Would Never Tell a Child To Shut the F@&% Up

Instead of telling your kids to shut the f+$# up and go to bed I thought I might teach them a little bit about dealing with the fears and anxieties of childhood, maybe throw in a few literary lessons to boot, and tell them I think they're A-ok.

As adults we tend to get parental amnesia about the things that scared us witless, and seemed like world-ending atrocities to us as children. We can end up minimizing the stress involved in the day-to-day business of being a child because our own responsibilities and stresses seem so much more important. 

But it's hard being a kid.

It's hard being anyone on planet Earth.

Even before people start telling you to sit down, shut the f&%$ up, and go to bed.

Clearly I'm no Mr. Rogers, either, but the illustrations and poems from the new book, Atrocious Poems A To Z, illustrated by Jenny Mathews, are on the wall of the Rockford Art Museum until October 1st in an exhibit titled Bittersweet Observations. I felt a small obligation to plant forty literary lessons in this book like Easter Eggs for children to find without being overly didactic. 

I think the poem I feel the best about is the one about eye rhyme. I got the idea when Ella was about six and had to wear an eye patch for a year. 

I can't lie that it was really satisfying to be asked by the curator of the Rockford Art Museum to write on the walls. It's the sort of thing my teachers always told me I'd never get away with in "real life." Oh, but I have. I may be the only poet in America who is currently displayed on the walls of a museum in his own handwriting.

The opening was a blast because dozens of kids showed up and started writing poems on my antique typewriters.

Then we put their poems up on the wall.

We didn't tell them to go to f$#@ to bed or anything. 

Dang I'm proud of this book and all the hard work we put into it and how it turned out and it depresses the hell out of me I can't think of any way to get people interested without telling their kids to shut the f$#% up.

I'm really honored that the Rockford Area Arts Council has asked Zombie Logic Press to get some of our arts educator friends together from The Rock And Roll Institute and Smarty Pants Kids Arts Studio to share a tent at Rockford City Market June 23rd.

My teachers were all about telling me writing wasn't my thing, and now they make similar notes on my 6 year old's report card. Jack likes to draw. Well, guess what? I'm all about trying to teach children they can do whatever they want, even if that is a life and a career in the arts. 

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