The Garden of Free Verses II
Rapidly emerging poets at Heritage Park
there still people who suppose that most poets evolve their writings while
sitting alone brooding on their own deep feelings and profound thoughts? There
must be a few—a few people who still believe that and a few poets who work that
way exclusively. Ask most contemporary poets, though—or better still, read
them—and one will discover poets are dynamically engaged with, interested in,
their surroundings, the world in its oddness. In most contemporary poetry what’s
out there seems no less important than what’s in here.
In light of this, then,
Heritage Park and The Clarke Estate in Santa Fe Springs,
a little city about 40 minutes from L.A. off the 605, provide excellent
locations for the annual summer art & poetry camp. Those who haven’t visited
these grounds can glean something of them through the selection of poems
below—the gardens and bamboo forest, the replica of the 19th century carriage
barn with artifacts from the era, and the visiting horse with his trainer.
As much variety as can be found in these lovely places, it’s still a challenge
for an emerging group of poets to consider similar subjects—the horse, for
example—without beginning to slip into a certain sameness. As visiting
poet-professor I encourage my seven-to-thirteen-year-old protégés to tell me
something I don’t already know. Yes, I see the horse is brown, yes of course the
bees are buzzing—if it’s one thing we can assume about bees it’s that they’ll
spend much of their time buzzing—but what else can you tell me? Poets have
readers, after all, readers hungry for sensation and fresh points of view.
This past summer’s excellent groups experimented with various grammatical forms,
the statement of fact, the question, and the imperative—the command—so as to
avoid predictable patterns (Noun is/are Adjective), and to explore other
ways into their subjects. (The astute reader will spot all three in a couple of
the poems below, and perhaps notice that Hong-Tran Nguyen turned her command into a polite request. That works, too.) In doing this, though, each emerging poet took a bit more time than
usual to look upon and listen to—experience—the world around us. Perhaps their
poems will remind older people to take time also, now and then.
Founder of art & poetry camp
Patty Sue Jones with Rosemary
The Clarke Estate Vivid Bamboo Forest (ages 7-9)
In the Moment
A dirty water fountain springs into the air.
I do not know why I wish it were light blue
just like the sky above.
Leaves float out of trees
past blue cars, red cars,
in the parking lot.
From The Clarke Estate Intellectual Elements of Nature (Ages 10-13)
A Friend for the Future
Sally, I gaze at you while you
walk, trot and canter.
Your glorious body trots around me.
You spin around me like butterflies
searching for their palace to stay
for the midnight cold.
Splint boots keep you on track.
I will buy a mare when I am old,
silent and still.
It will be my friend.
I will listen to its swift hooves
galloping towards me,
galloping towards me.
From The Heritage Park Spirits (ages 7 - 9)
Hong Tran Nguyen
If I Were a Bell
If I were a bell I would make a soft sound
like a smoke bomb or a firework.
I would hang on top of a school.
The principal would ring me
like a breeze from the wind.
I would be made in 1882
so people would be more interested in me.
If someone asked me, "What do you do?"
I'd say, "I ring, that's what I do."
I like to be rung.
Please ring me.
From The Heritage Park Serene Poet-Artists (Ages 9 - 13)
Robert John Guevarra
Regarding a Horse
Don't go behind Skipper.
He gets nervous.
Skipper, do you get scared
like an elephant afraid of a mouse?
Do you eat a lot like a man
in an eating contest,
or is it that food relaxes you?
I, too, get nervous when someone is behind me.