15 April 2019

Books I Love: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Shel Silverstein

I first read this book
about 1985

I have a powerful memory of my mother coming into my grandmother's back bedroom where I was playing one afternoon. She held a thick book in her hands.  The book's jacket was gone, leaving the brown cover with a darker brown scrawl pressed in it. I realized later this was the imprint of Shel Silverstein's signature. I've always thought it was impressive that his signature was pressed into the cover of a book.

Mom told me she wanted to share a book with me--a book of poetry. She stretched out beside me on the king-size bed and began reading some of the poems. I vividly remember her interpretation of "Sick."

I was hooked instantly.

Not only did I fall in love with Shel Silverstein's poetry, but I discovered a love of poetry in general.

The poetry I write is terrible. I simply do not think like a poet. I wish I did. Imagine being able to distill a complex emotion or thought into the confines of a poem.

Shel Silverstein and his poetry have fared me well. I've bonded with friends over our mutual love for his poems. I've performed his poems in poetry competitions.

One of my favorite memories of performing his work was when I read "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony" to a school group touring the library. (Technically, that poem is from A Light In the Attic, but I love that book, too.)

I was reading to this group of first or second graders, and I was having a blast.  I was reading with emotion and attitude and truly giving them a show when, from the front row, I hear one girl say to her friend, "She's crazy."

I don't know how I managed to stop myself from bursting out laughing when I heard that. Internally, I certainly was. I can only hope she delighted in my "crazy" performance and maybe even remembers it still.

But she was correct. I am crazy about poetry, and I love, love, love to share those feelings with others. Just as my mother did with me.

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