Monday, March 25, 2013

A Poem Inspired by Love That Dog

Sharon Creech's Love That Dog inspired  Caroline Starr Rose to write the following poem. 

Words count.
All words,
and giving voice to those children
who don’t yet know their power
is to open the world. 


Mrs. Stretchberry
knows how to woo her student Jack,
understands how to draw from him
phrases that play with shapes and sounds,
stanzas that speak to the pain
of loss
and love
and memory.


During a school year
where poetry is a regular part of things,
words work deep,
settle,
unfold,
grow
as Jack does
from a boy who thinks
writing poetry is to
“make
short
lines”
to one who finds the courage --
through the structure, voice,
and style of others --
to speak his own.


“Was it like me
when I didn’t think
my words
were
poems?”
Jack asks Mrs. Stretchberry,
and I am firm in the knowing that
teachers reach into lives,
authors speak directly to their readers,
words make impact,
transform,
compel,
demand response
every time
they’re heard.


Poetry is
as sweet as
a dog lolling in the afternoon sun,
is
as painful as
“that straggly furry
smiling
dog
Sky”
hit by a car,
sprawled on the road
“with his legs bent funny,”
taken in a moment from the boy
who’d picked him from the shelter
“with his paws curled
around the wire
and his long red tongue
hanging out
and his big black eyes
looking a little sad
and his long tail
wag-wag-wagging
as if he were saying
Me me me! Choose me!


It is in the writing down
that loss becomes more than sorrow:
It becomes a touchstone for all who encounter
the memory,
even when it’s not their own.
Poetry is
a balm,
a battle cry,
a picture that says
this is what it means to see.


Some like to debate
the merit of the verse novel:
Is it a collection of poems tied together through story?
A hybrid somehow lesser than true poetry?
Something from English class -- stories spoken by a blind man?
A tale stripped bare, chopped to pieces for effect?


And yet,
wherever the definition falls,
there is no denying verse novels
open the way of rhythm,
expose through brevity
true abundance,
give readers room to live in the midst of language
rich and intricate,
stilted,
jarring,
beautiful and barren.
Sharon Creech is able to tell a complete story
with a handful of poems,
and in doing so
accents Jack’s world with authenticity
that would have been lost in a jumble of prose.


Poetry gives
Jack the room to experiment with writing
and pushes him beyond,
allows him to dream
an Important Poet cares --
lets that dream come true
when Walter Dean Myers,
true poet
who inspires Jack’s bravest work,
walks into Jack’s fictitious world
and takes notice of the boy who
Loves That Dog.



Thank you, Caroline, for sharing this beautiful poem with us. 



The Sharp-Schu Book Club is discussing Caroline Starr Rose's May B. and Sharon Creech's Love That Dog on April 24. 

7 comments:

  1. Touched by that beautiful poem. Printing it out and hanging it by desk. Appreciating the amazing circularity of: words inspiring words inspiring words inspiring words . . . Thank you, Caroline Starr Rose, and thank you Mr. Schu. xx

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  2. I love these lines about poetry:
    "Poetry is
    a balm,
    a battle cry,
    a picture that says
    this is what it means to see."

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  3. Thank you, Mr. Schu, for posting! With the April book club, this feels like it was meant to be.

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  4. Thanks for a lovely poem Caroline. Sharon Creech's power with words always inspires me.

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  5. Two of my favorite authors come together in this great poem. I will share with my students. This is a good model of a book poem. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Love this! Once again, inspiring us to reach kids with words that matter

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