Friday, June 15, 2007

A Poem for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is coming up, so I dug around for a favorite poem about dads. Right away I thought of my favorite collection of dadly poems for kids, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers (New York: Lee & Low, 1997). I can’t believe it has been a decade since that book was published! The beautiful, textured collages of Javaka Steptoe (son of author/illustrator, John Steptoe, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, another favorite of mine) won him a Coretta Scott King Illustrator award for his very first picture book. And the compilation of poems by a variety of African American poets is fresh and appealing—across cultures, across ages, across generations. Here’s one of my personal favorites.

Artist to Artist
by Davida Adedjouma

I write books, now, because my father wanted
to be an artist when he grew up & he was good
at it, too. Drew people with meat on their bones
in flesh-colored tones from my 64-colors box
of crayons. But
every night - & sometimes even weekends & holidays -
he dressed in the blue uniform & black shoes
of many other fathers who also weren't doctors or lawyers,
teachers or preachers, & rode the 10:00 p.m. bus
to the downtown post office. Sorted mail by zip code -
60620, 60621, 60622. He sorted mail all night &
into the day because we had bills to pay. For 30 years
my father rode the bus feeling black and blue. He
never drew and his degrees in art & education sat
hardening on a shelf along with his oils
& acrylics. But
along with his gapped teeth, his bow legs & and his first name
with an A at the end, he gave me the urge to create
characters with meat on their bones, in flesh-colored tones
written in words as vivid as a 64-colors box of crayons.
I write, he drew. Daddy, thank you!
& now that you're
retired ...
... what do you want to be?

Picture credit: Lee and Low Books

3 comments:

John Mutford said...

Hey, we blogged about the same book for Poetry Friday. It's a great book though, so that's fine.

I really enjoyed Weatherford's "The Farmer" in particular.

LiteracyTeacher said...

LOVE YOUR BLOG. Just found it thanks to Poetry Friday.

Wanted to tag you for a personal policies meme, http://mentortexts.blogspot.com/2007/06/personal-policies-meme.html, that is going around. ENJOY!

Sylvia Vardell said...

As Eeyore would say, "Thank you for noticing me!" It's always great to connect with fellow poetry lovers.

Interesting personal policies meme... hmmm... I thought I could dash these off and I'm finding myself mulling these over. Here's a beginning:

1. I only buy used cars.
2. Live theater (preferably in New York City) is essential.
3. I don't take no for an answer.
4. Good manners smooth the way through life.
5. Eating lunch with your favorite person (for me: my husband) is the best therapy.
6. Personal gifts are still better than cash.
7. Let your loved ones know your wishes for handling your illness and/or death. (Seems morbid, but is kinder.)
8. Never miss an opportunity to hug. People need more hugs.
9. Sitting quietly in church is soothing.
10. Making lists is the key to success.