We are still in our Cybils streak! Joining us today is Joyce Sidman and her wonderful poetry collection, This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. This book, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, received numerous awards including the 2007 Cybils Poetry Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. In this poetry collection, the sixth grade class of Mrs. Merz decide to write poems of apology.
“In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz’s class writes of crushes, deception, overbearing, parents, loving and losing pets, and dodgeball accidents. Some poets are deeply sorry; some not at all. Some are forgiven; others are not. But each pair of poem reveals a relationship, a connection—between sisters, brothers, father and son, teacher and student, and best friends.” — Taken from the front jacket flap of the book
We’re already one week into the month of February, which means that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Amidst the declarations of love, sweet nothings, and cutesy love quotes, I think that it would also be nice to celebrate this month by admitting our faults and apologizing for the wrong things we’ve done. But saying sorry is not an easy thing to do. Maybe these poems written by Mrs. Merz’s class would help us come up with our own apology poem in case we are too afraid to say it straight in their faces. Here are a few samples from the book. **Poem samples were taken by me and edited through an iPhone app. Round up post for Poetry Friday is happening at A Teaching Life.
Here is the poem in case you can’t read from the illustration above:
I am very sorry for assaulting your nose
before every spelling test.
When I first came here
I noticed you right away
your kind eyes
your stiff hair rolled in a ball
like my grandmother’s.
Your nose looked so strange and magnificent.
I asked Mai Lee about it.
“Pale and smooth
from a thousand rubbings,” she said.
Before that first spelling test,
it felt like a cool stone
under my hand, calming me.
In a hundred years
your nose may be worn down to nothing
and so I am very sorry.
But think of all the little children,
again and again,
to whom you gave
that cool stone
by Bao Vang
To The Girl Who Rubs My Nose
I was a child like you.
I used to run, I used to play.
Now I am old, and cold,
and frozen on my pedestal.
I see a lot from up here:
I have lots of time to think.
I think maybe spelling
isn’t so important.
Friends are important.
Kindness is important.
A gentle touch.
So, come rub my nose again, girl.
Come warm me up a little.
(writing for Florence P. Scribner’s statue)
This poetry collection, being divided into two parts, does not only contain poems written for inanimate objects. Most are written for people, and the other part shows the responses to their letters. Here is an excerpt from Mrs. Merz poem of apology to her mother:
Mom, I’m so sorry for breaking
your precious glass deer
all those years ago.
I plucked it from the rough cotton snow
by its tiny antlers.
Later, when I heard you crying,
I felt small.
Please forgive me
Here is Mrs. Merz’s mother’s response to her:
For Little Ruth
You were a boisterous child. I cried
the day I got your poem. Not because
I was sorry, or because you should be sorry,
or any of that. No, no. I cried because
you were little, and now you are not.
Come visit me soon, will you?