Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

Mother’s Day

About as far back as I can remember, my mom  read to me, and the first thing I remember her reading was a book of children’s poetry. Included were the commonplace nursery rhymes many of us know but others featured the lives of assorted other kings and commoners alike, some who lived in exotic locations such as China (as did Dahling Dahlinka Dinah). The illustrations were large and colorful, and the rhythm and rhymes were fun to listen to. Most of all, I remember the enthusiasm and sheer joy in my mom’s voice and facial expressions as she shared these gems with me.

Over time, my mom promoted me to the big leagues and when I was about eight years old she subjected me to Coleridge’s “The Ancient Mariner.” I admit it now but never let on then that I was a bit underwhelmed with this piece. The significance of the albatross thing had to be explained to me in minute detail and even then the situation seemed a bit bizarre. The “water, water, every where” verse was particularly pointed out as having significance, although, again, I had to ask why they couldn’t just drink the water.

Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol” was equally as baffling. Finding out that “gay ole” was actually “jail” was an eye opener, though not as much so as the notion that “each man kills the thing he loves.” How does that remotely make any sense? My eyes glazed over during that enthralled explanation. Furthermore, even at that age I recognized that this poem is at least 70 stanzas too long.

My mom had more success with Poe’s “The Raven.” Now that was a cool poem! It had a simple scary story with a menacing talking bird; perfectly understandable.

In all of these cases, my mother took the opportunity to teach me how to read poetry, which we always did out loud, letting me know that I didn’t have to pause at the end of each line to emphasize the rhyme.

When I was around 10 or 11, my mom allowed me to read “the me nobody knows,” a collection of poems we had on our bookshelf written by children who lived in inner cities across the US. The language and situations were raw and unflinching. Reading this book showed me that poetry can be relevant to real people’s everyday lives.

My mom never made anything I wanted to read off limits to me, regardless of subject matter. This may seem risky as a child-rearing tactic but her leniency in this area is something I have always appreciated. From the beginning, reading was the one area in my life for which there were no boundaries–still a handy lesson to remember now that I am a writer and a poet myself.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012.


Comments on: "Mother’s Day" (46)

  1. Sweepy,

    through book a whole new world is open : )

    Love love this look back



  2. tumultuousjourney said:

    Wonderful post, I remember little of reading as a young child, although I do know mom read to me as did my sister, I was always encouraged to read and did, it became my first escape, taking me to a different world as Jessica said, a safe world.
    These are wonderful memories you have and a wonderfully insightful mother you were blessed with as well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wonderful memories here!
    I, too, got my love of reading from my mom and dad reading to me early on. I, in turn, did the same with my two who still love reading to this day.
    Thanks for this beautiful reflection!

  4. Reading to a child is one of the most important things. Your mum has done a good job. I try to read to my daughters every night. I hope that, at some point, they will do it by themselves. In the meantime, I love rediscovering some classics!

  5. This is so touching. I really admire your mother for giving you the socialization you had, for instilling in you such love for words. And now look where you are! She must be so proud! I hope my son would develop a love for words as well, as I do my best to share books with him 🙂

  6. Lovely Sweepy. Very brilliant mum. My time is coming when I shall be reading poetry to my youngling. Oh I’m scared

    Cheers A

  7. Wonderful post. I remember my Granny reading to me. What she read I don’t know but I remember sitting on her knee in a rocking chair. The book had really thin pages and they had gone brown around the edges. The content is forgotten but it must have been good as the memory is still with me. I think it was the beginning of my love or reading. I have an e-reader as a solution to a travel problem but it will never replace “real” books. I love the look, touch smell and feel of books. I began on my Granny’s knee.

  8. Janaki Nagaraj said:

    Wonderful and memorable post. My mom instilled in me the habit of reading and I seem to have passed on the same to my daughter…:-)

  9. suburbansatsangs said:

    My mother, who was always in motion, took the time to read to my brother and me at lunch, Winnie the Pooh, Swiss Family Robinson, Dickens. There was poetry too, like A Child’s Garden of Verses and Wynken, Blynken and Nod. It is one of my favorite memories of childhood, and for that, I will always be grateful. There is something magical about the spoken word. Thank you for taking us back, Adriene.

  10. You are so blessed to have a mother who’s passion you now share. It’s so wonderful that you have been properly guided to love reading and appreciating poems at a young age (It was my brother who introduced me to the world of literature). I noticed that there’s a certain relationship that exists between a poet and his work. They do not just put beautiful words together… they recreate one’s soul 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂 Sei grande!

    • At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, your explanation of what a poet does is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. It resonates with me and I’ll probably never forget it. Tu sei grande anche! ❤

  11. I don’t see the point in filtering a child’s literary education. I allow my children to read freely. They have to decide what THEY LIKE and ready what THEY WANT and not what I want them too. Of course, I slip in suggestions now and again just in case they are looking to expand their wings. Can you imagine who you might have become if not for your mom’s subtle influence? Scary thought, huh?

    • Lol!! Who am I because of her not-so-subtle influence? ;p That’s another story. Yeah, when I think of how some books have been censored over time and deemed not suitable for kids, it angers me. You are definitely doing the right thing with your children.

  12. Sounds like you Mom had a huge impact on making you into the great poet you are today.

  13. I know what you are saying about “The Ancient Mariner” – at that age it did go above the head I think. After reading this Sweepy there is just one predominating thought in my head – couldn’t you record a recitation of any poem for us to hear? Would love to hear you… Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

  14. Scattered Musings of A Creative Mind said:

    I was one of those mom’s that while 6 months pregnant I would read to my child. I think each one of them (5 kiddies) came out of the womb reading. My youngest (12) Noah always has a book in his hand. My older children are very creative, drawing, writing, crafty… I often wonder if all that reading helped …

  15. Both my kids love to read and it’s great my parents particularly my dad hated me reading and he honestly believed that’s why i needed glasses. We kinda censor my sons reading a tiny bit he is not allowed to read most of my stuff for example

  16. My first memories include books and I would memorize stories that my mom read to me and pretend to read out aloud. My mom used it to fool a lot of people. Aren’t we so blessed to have parents who led us to our love of reading, Sweepy?

  17. I recently wrote about my mother reading to me and this post brought back lovely memories as well. I think all moms and dads should read to their children. It promotes the imagination, creates great bonding time and very well may inspire a child to do one of the greatest things in the world! Write! So glad your mom read to you girl! We get the benefits!


  18. My mother was concerned about me reading certain things that were not appropriate. When she was reading the Exorcist she told me that she did not want me to read it. Of course, as soon as I had a chance I read it. I was extremely disturbed by that book and for several nights I could not sleep. Every small sound magnified by the stillness of the night would make me think there was something lurking somewhere in my bedroom. And the worse thing was that I could ask my mother for help because then she would find out I read the book!

  19. Sweepy, this touches me on a very deep level, seems like our moms shared the same love of words and rhyme as they did school of thought on child appropriate reading material!
    I too would nod during recitations of some lengthy pieces but instantly love all things, “Poe!”
    My mom figured if I could comprehend it I could read it and I aleays read far above my grade level.
    Thanks for this blast from the past!

    • There’s an immediacy about Poe’s work. He speaks to our basic emotions in a way that just about anybody can relate to. I marvel at the creativity required to be a good mom. Thanks for your comment, Daune! ❤

  20. Hi Adrienne,

    This is a beautiful post. Your mom is to be applauded because look at the greatness she fostered :). Strangely enough. I don’t have memories of my mom reading to me but my avidity for words was evident from early on and it has indeed, opened my world. Following!

    Peace & Progress.

    • Sweet of you to say, Coco! Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where we get any one of our attributes, but it is clear that words are indeed the keys to the world! Thanks for reading and for the follow!

  21. What a beautiful mother you have…Reading should have no boundaries. Loved this post!

  22. Thank God for your Mom’s foresight and wisdom. Look what you’ve done as a result! : )
    P.S. I was a fan of Poe’s “The Raven” at an early age, too.

  23. […] I have never thought of race as something that hinders what I can do or achieve. For this attitude I have to thank my mother who was so strong and ahead of her time. Race was never a topic of  discussion (the down side was […]

  24. […] the back of my head, I hear my mother’s voice telling me, “Keep your business private. Whatever happens in the house stays in the […]

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