The Street Poet

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On a recent trip to New Orleans I noticed something new on the ever-lively, music-filled streets of the city.

Street poets.

They sit at a small portable table with a small portable typewriter in front of them and will write a poem on the subject of your choice for a small fee, or a donation. The lure of using a quirky (or should it be qwerty?) technology of the past (a real typewriter) and the risk of asking them to write on a subject of your choosing and seeing what is created was strong.

Since I’m staying in Houston, visiting family and grandchildren, the subject I gave was “grandchildren”. I thought a poem would be a far more enduring gift for them than a few rows of colourful Mardi Gras beads (given to me at the hotel), or toys (they have plenty), or chocolates (I care about their teeth and diet).

I was drawn to this particular poet (his name was David) because his poster showed a picture of Snoopy at a typewriter. Snoopy has significance for our family, with a 1970s version who lives at our house in the UK, and a 1970s version who lives at our grandchildren’s house in Houston. The UK Snoopy belonged to our daughter; the Houston Snoopy lived originally in France and belonged to our daughter-in-law.

So it had to be this poet who wrote the poem.

He asked a few questions about the ages of the children and I told him why I’d chosen him because of the Snoopy connection. Then he set to work.

Husband and I stood by quietly, watching the poem emerge. It took him about 10 minutes to produce, with no typing errors and a lot of intense concentration. Then he rolled out the sheet of paper and read the poem to us:

Grandchildren

Snoopy through the generations,

the flying ace taking on the

Red Baron.

Snoopy grows up like all children

must and learns by using his razor sharp

imagination.

Snoopy speaks to grandchildren too.

He gives careful advice

like grandparents do,

reminds you to love each day

and stay true to who you are.

You don’t have to be in a hurry

to do everything, at 3 or 8 or 38.

Life will happen in large and small

moments, push and pull like the ocean’s

undertow, emotions and experiences and when you

seek out wisdom from your grandparents

remember to listen well.

 

 

 

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