Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing From the Outside In

Okay – I have accepted a challenge from my partner in rhyme Sara Holbrook and I am going to attempt to write a poem a day for seven days for younger folks. we both know that others have managed to do this for a month and even a year – (or if you’re Jane Yolen) decades – but, we figure baby steps for now and see where it gets us.

What Sara and I are doing is working on writing from the outside in. There has been so much talk (and books written) about writing from the inside out. Well, I think there is enough self-reflection in our world today – the me, me, me, it’s all about me ethos isn’t exactly conducive to creating the best neighbors. Plus, when we are talking about an elementary aged kid – how much experience has he or she got to write about?

We find that we write from outside stimulus more like reporters than diarists – and that is how we are approaching this experiment.

So my first entry comes from riding my bicycle past some roadkill – a possum to be exact. And if we are talking the American Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) you’d be hard pressed to find an uglier animal – in fact the only thing uglier than a live possum is a dead one with its pointy little face all screwed up in its death grin.

So I give you my poem – 

When a Possum Grins

When a possum grins,
shows his thorny teeth,
though he’s trying to be friendly
and means no harm,
he still appears pretty scary.
It’s not his fault.
It’s just how he looks.
He was born scraggly and hairy
with warped whiskers,
twisted ears,
and a tail that’s long, bald and pointy.
It’s no big wonder
he makes us flinch and shudder.
Who could love
such an ugly thing
the possum’s mother?

©Michael Salinger

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