Friday, September 11, 2009

A Poem in Remembrance of Karla Kuskin

Karla Kuskin, one of my favorite children’s poets, passed away in August. I loved Karla’s poetry. Much of it was joyful and exuberant. It was poetry that truly spoke to children and about the world of childhood. My elementary students read and enjoyed and took pleasure in memorizing Karla Kuskin’s poetry.
I had the opportunity to hear Karla speak twice—the first time at the Boston Public Library when she gave the David McCord lecture more than twenty years ago and then again at a children’s literature conference at the University of Southern Maine. I could tell you more about Karla—but there’s no reason to because Sylvia Vardell has already posted a lovely tribute to Karla at her blog Poetry for Children: Remembering Karla Kuskin. I suggest you read it—if you haven’t already.
(Note: These are titles and first lines of some of Karla’s poems that my students and I loved best: A Bug Sat in a Silver Flower, Buggity Buggity Bug, I Woke Up This Morning, Rules, The Question, The Gold-Tinted Dragon, Where Have You Been Dear?, Around and Around, and nearly every poem from her book Any Me I Want to Be. I guess I could go on and on.)

Here is one of the poems from Any Me I Want to Be—probably the best collection of mask poems ever written for children. I love the book so much that I bought two copies—just in case I lost one. I memorized the following poem—as well as a number of others from the book.

I liked growing.
That was nice.
The leaves were soft
The sun was hot.
I was warm and red and round
Then someone dropped me in a pot.

Being a strawberry isn’t all pleasing.
This morning they put me in ice cream.
I’m freezing.

In remembrance of Karla Kuskin, I wrote a poem using titles of her books and poems and lines from some of her poems. I typed Karla's titles and poem lines in italics.

Here I Am: A Poem in Remembrance of Karla Kuskin
by Elaine Magliaro

Here I am
Sitting near the window tree,
Feeling green as a bean,
Getting the urge to roar and more,
To saddle up and ride on the gold-tinted dragon
In the middle of the night
A silver night that’s full of the moon.

Here I am
Sitting near the window tree,
Counting the stars
While the Earth goes spinning around and around,
Dreaming different dreams,
Pretending to be any me I want to be
A worm,
A wizard,
A blue bird on a branch.

Here I am
Sitting near the window tree
Where stillness is my secret,
Thinking dreams are life you live asleep
Wondering: Where do you get the idea for a poem?
Telling myself: Dig deep in you
Some things you know.

Here I am
Sitting near the window tree
Writing wordless words,
Composing a tuneless tune
A song to be sung at night
When I look out at the world and listen
To the day shut tight.

For further reading:

At Blue Rose Girls, I have two poems dedicated to the memory of Lindsey B., of one of my former students. I just learned on Wednesday that Lindsey had passed away at the age of thirty. The poems are Little Elegy by X. J. Kennedy and Child of a Day by Walter Savage Landor.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is here—at Wild Rose Reader—today!


Author Amok said...

Thanks for hosting today, Elaine. I love your tribute poem, especially how you wove in Kuskin's lines and titles.

Today, I have info about Poetry Out Loud -- the national recitation competition for high schoolers.

One of the poems on the performance list is Gertrude Stein's "Susie Asado," also up on my blog today.

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

Thanks for hosting today, Elaine.

Mark & I contribute an original Farewell poem by me: "A Capital Lament":

tanita✿davis said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your student, and thank you for the great Kuskin poetry as well.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Rest in peace, Karla.

jone said...

Thank you for hosting. I love the tribute to Karla Kuskin. She was so great.

jama said...

I love your tribute poem!! Karla was such an original. She will be sorely missed.

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