Friday, May 18, 2012

Jonas Salk: An Original Poem

Yikes! I haven't posted at Wild Rose Reader in over a week! I've been really busy lately. My attention has also become more focused on family—especially my little granddaughter Julia. I so enjoy being her “nanny granny.” Watching her change and grow is such a joy for me. I had the BEST Mother’s Day ever this year because I’m a grandma now. 

 Julia on Mother's Day

Here’s a picture of me on Mother’s Day with my daughter, my granddaughter, and my mother.

I’m still doing revisions on my Things to Do manuscript. I have a few more “things to do” on the collection. I think “final” revisions can be the most difficult. I sometimes find that I have to step away from a poem for a day…or two…or more before I can look at it with new eyes and make the changes that are needed. Can't wait until I'm done!

I also went through an extended rewriting process last year when I was working on a poem about Jonas Salk for an anthology titled Dare to Dream…Change the World.  (The book will be published by Kane Miller this coming fall.)

JillCorcoran is the editor of the anthology. Here is her synopsis of the book:

Dare to Dream … Change the World pairs biographical and inspirational poems focusing on people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.

Last November, I posted the first draft of my Salk poem. You can read that poem here.

Working on revisions for my Things to Do manuscript gave me the idea of posting another draft of my Jonas Salk poem for Poetry Friday. The following draft was dated July 21, 2011.

Jonas Salk

Becoming a lawyer was not for me.
I had been captivated by atoms and molecules,
By the world of science.
I was interested now in the laws of nature—
Not the laws of man.
I would become a medical researcher,
Learn how the human body fights infection,
Discover cures for illnesses,
Find ways to prevent diseases.
I would be a problem solver.
That excited me!

The laboratory became my home.
Finding a way to immunize people against polio,
The disease that had crippled so many, became my passion.
I spent years experimenting, searching for an answer.
In 1953, we inoculated our first “polio pioneers.”
The vaccine worked!
Now no more children would have to walk
With metal braces on their legs…
No more children would be paralyzed or trapped inside iron lungs.
No more parents would live in fear of the word “polio.”

President Eisenhower said he had no words to thank me.
I needed no thanks.
I had lived my dream to help mankind.
I was asked who owned the patent on my vaccine. I replied,
"There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"
It belonged to the people.


Katya has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Write. Sketch. Repeat.


Ruth said...

I'm not sure why it says I'm anonymous. I'm Ruth, from

Linda at teacherdance said...

This new book your poem will be in sounds wonderful, Elaine. I've been teaching some poetry lessons using your mask poems, & the students love using their research to craft their poems. This is still another idea/mentor text to use for poetry requires research. Lovely about him, too! What a gift he gave.

Mary Lee said...

I can't wait for this new collection of poems! We have lots of poetry/NF crossover with science and nature. We need more with history/biography!!

Janet Wong said...

Dear Elaine: You wrote so many good drafts of that poem--what, a dozen? fifteen?! And you did so much research on Salk, I really do think you could write a whole book about him. (You can read Carmen Bernier-Grand's terrific poetry bios of Frida Kahlo and Cesar Chavez for inspiration!)