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Poetry Teatime

On Hal­loween morn­ing, Pooh Bear came for a vis­it on our porch. There was cof­fee for her par­ents and hot choco­late with whipped cream and sprin­kles for her, as well as a round of pas­tries for all. A love­ly morn­ing, how­ev­er dis­tanced and masked we had to remain.

This adorable Pooh is loqua­cious — her par­ents talk and sing and read with her all the time and so at the age of two she could basi­cal­ly hold her own on a speech or debate team. She has at the ready count­less lit­tle vers­es and songs with which to enter­tain. (Her father is an ele­men­tary school music teacher.) Like Pooh, she enjoys the rhythm and song of words, as well as clever bits of repeat­ed syl­la­bles and non­sense expres­sions. She cracks her­self up, and any­one lis­ten­ing as well.

She’s new to Pooh, but she fell for him hard. And I sus­pect she will grow to love his lit­tle hums, his mur­murs and songs, his vers­es and lines, as she learns them in the sto­ries. She’s just that kind of kid. Hav­ing had that kind of kid myself, I had lit­tle bits of Pooh poet­ries run­ning through my head the rest of the day.

Cot­tle­ston, Cot­tle­ston, Cot­tle­ston Pie,

A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly….

 

                                                               The more it SNOWS-tiddely-pom,

                                                               The more it GOES-tiddely-pom

                                                               The more it GOES-tiddely-pom

                                                               On snowing….

 

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la…  

                                                            Rum-tum-tum-tiddle-um….

Pooh’s “hums,” as he likes to call them, were my intro­duc­tion to poet­ry. It’s also sort of where my ear­ly poet­ry edu­ca­tion end­ed. My moth­er read us Win­nie-the-Pooh and I always liked the bits of vers­es Pooh’s “very lit­tle brain” came up with on walks in the hun­dred acre wood. I espe­cial­ly liked the tid­dly-poms and tut-tuts and tra-la-las.

I read the same Pooh sto­ries to my kids. And #1 Son lis­tened to a BBC pro­duced Pooh audio­book at bed­time until the cas­sette tape was worn thin as lace. He could tid­dly-pom with the best of them at one time.

Children’s poet­ry has increased sev­er­al fold in the last cou­ple of decades — so many more choic­es! We can now read fan­tas­tic poems that don’t always rhyme. We can enjoy rhythms and sounds from a vari­ety of cul­tures. There are new forms to delight in, and whole nov­els writ­ten in verse.

I con­tin­ue to add to my col­lec­tion, even though I have no young read­ers at home any­more. Beside Pooh’s hums on my shelves I have the work of poets I know: Joyce Sid­man and Lau­ra Pur­die Salas. I have Out of Won­der, and We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voic­es fac­ing out because the titles and the art speak to me — not to men­tion the poet­ry inside. I have two copies of I’m Still Here In the Bath­tub because we loved it so much when the kids were small. I’ve got William Car­los Williams poet­ry next to Shel Sil­ver­stein books, and sev­er­al vol­umes of drag­on and dinosaur poetry.

I was com­mit­ted to work­ing poet­ry into our reg­u­lar read­ing when I was still read­ing to the kids. Some­times we did this with suc­cess. Often it was the art that kept them lis­ten­ing to words along side — poet­ry books are often beau­ti­ful visu­al­ly in addi­tion to aural­ly. But I always felt like I wasn’t doing the poet­ry genre justice. 

But now — now there’s this thing called Poet­ry Tea Time! I so wish this had been a move­ment when my kids were lit­tle. I think it’s the food and drink that makes it work — it cer­tain­ly would’ve helped my poet­ry par­ent­ing efforts. I fol­low these poet­ry tea timers on the social medias and I’m here to tell you, #poet­ryteatime will fill your feed with joy and good­ness. Chil­dren gath­ered around the table or the pic­nic blan­ket, read­ing poet­ry, pass­ing around books, laugh­ing, munch­ing the­mat­ic (or non­the­mat­ic) treats, sip­ping tea (or lemon­ade or hot choco­late). There are no rules about this — some­thing easy, some­thing yum­my, some­thing beau­ti­ful, and a side of poet­ry. I sus­pect poets are nur­tured at such tables.

This poet­ry and tea thing has the pow­er to change your out­look on life. Hope and joy can be yours, my friends! I have start­ed read­ing poet­ry dur­ing my after­noon tea time (a new covid rit­u­al!) and it has made all the dif­fer­ence. Try it and see if you don’t Tid­dly-pom!

Should you be inspired to have a Pooh Poet­ry Tea Time, well sim­ple ideas are a click away.

4 Responses to Poetry Teatime

  1. Anita November 12, 2020 at 5:21 pm #

    Poet­ry Tea Time sounds like a won­der­ful source of inspi­ra­tion. It like­ly IS the food and drink that makes it work. My sis­ter, who teach­ers ele­men­tary school, has done “pop­corn and poet­ry” in April, and it has always proven to be a mem­o­rable event.

    • Melanie November 12, 2020 at 6:22 pm #

      I love Pop­corn & Poet­ry! Great idea!

  2. Laura Purdie Salas November 13, 2020 at 6:27 am #

    How do I not know Poet­ry Teatime? I think I’ve seen one or two inter­views in the wild when they were poets I know and love, but I was total­ly unfa­mil­iar with the site and over­all move­ment! I’m drink­ing Good Earth sweet & spicy tea while read­ing this arti­cle. Think I’ll take a break to read or write a poem :>) Thanks for spread­ing the poet­ry love, Melanie. Love that adorable Pooh Bear.

    • Melanie November 13, 2020 at 7:08 am #

      Well, I’m extra hap­py to have shared it, Lau­ra! Enjoy the new rit­u­al and the new hash­tag. ;0)

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