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Poetics of Childhood

February 24, 2009

trike-2This is not much of a post, but I did just want to share a little passage I was reading the other day.  It was one of those moments in which I was reading for one purpose and was hit with the realization it could carry over in to other parts of my life, outside of academia.  I’m not sure if I completely agree or believe what this passage indicates, but it is a lovely notion all the same about the innate poetic potential of childhood.

I also wanted an excuse to say that my posting here will become more infrequent (a wee bit after the fact as it already has!) and that I won’t be participating regularly in TWD any longer.  The demands of the semester are becoming apparent and I’m still trying to cut back on my sugar intake a bit (not completely of course– esp. when it comes to scrumptious rum cake made by generous friends savored with a cup of hot tea).  But to the passage!

Quoted from Writing with Power by Peter Elbow (c. 1981).

[Children] make mistakes because they use language magically.  They say that dogs are called dog because they have dogness in them or look like dog, or because dog sounds like a dog.  But children have more real voice.  They talk poetically more easily than adults do.  Yet what they make poetical–when you stop and loot at it–often seems merely simple and straight-forward.  I’m not talking about the child’s utterance that is clever “considering he’s only a child”–which of course is charming in its own way.  I’m thinking about the child’s words that are utterly simple.  Children have available the gift of wholeheartedness, complete intentionality.  That, perhaps, is one definition of innocence: meaning 100 percent what you say, not holding back, not leaking attention off to the side.  As a child sitting in your lap will reach up and grab your chin and pull it around to make you pay attention to her when you are trying to talk to someone else, so the child has the gift of uttering words which force you with an equally graphic forcefulness to pay atteniton, the gift of writing words which force you as you read them to say them with full meaning and attention.  Children can command us. (pg. 361)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. teaandscones permalink
    February 24, 2009 12:07 pm

    We will miss you at TWD. But get finished with school and come on back.

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