Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bow season now. Shotgun soon. Poem #218

It is almost shotgun season here in our little country town.  And with hunting season come the cars and trucks, trolling down our road with big flashlights, searching out where the deer are.  I wrote this poem because hunting season is on my mind and because I could not think of any hunting poems.  Yet I have many young friends who are learning to hunt from their parents, friends who take pride in the meat they bring home and the hard work and patience it takes to succeed in hunting quick and elusive deer.

Many years ago, I read an interview with Ezra Jack Keats in which he explained how he decided to draw his main character, Peter of PETER'S CHAIR, as an African American boy.  In the early 1960s, there were not many African American main characters in picture books, and Ezra realized that "(Peter) should have been there all along."  This got me wondering: what real children's experiences have I not seen reflected in children's poetry?  Hunting stepped forward, for though people have written hunting poems for ages, I have not read many contemporary poems about children hunting with their families.

Students - one of my writing teachers, Lucy Calkins, says that we should write the stories and poems we wish to find in the library.  If we feel there aren't enough hunting books or poems, we can write them!  If we feel there are not enough poems about foster children, we should write them!  If we feel there are not enough poems about building forts in the woods, by all means, we should write them!

Teachers - please notice that the right hand sidebar now includes links to interviews with children's poets.  Both Lee Bennett Hopkins and J. Patrick Lewis have been interviewed at different sites this week, and their words can help all of us understand poetry more deeply.  I recommend you mine these interviews for lessons and quotes to inspire your own young writers.  I will continue to add to these as time goes on, and if you find a great interview, I'd be grateful if you would share it along for all of us.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. I deeply appreciate this poem. I grew up in a home where hunting was a make or break part of the year. I don't hunt myself. We don't even have a rifle in our house. But it is a significant part of life for many of our friends and their children.

    Last year about this time a young woman named Molly let me take pictures of the heart of the doe she had killed the previous day. One of the pictures is in the video for The Freak Observer. (The cover photo is a human heart--not Molly's deer.)

  2. Blythe, My family didn't hunt growing up...and we don't hunt now. But I know a lot of families who do, and I too appreciate the wonder of eating what someone hunts him/herself.
    What a great story about how you got those photos. I am off to check them out. From where did they get the photo of the human heart?

  3. Wow can I feel this one. I grew up in a family where hunting was an important part of how we ate all winter. I have so been in those shoes, feeling the solemn worth of the meat, sitting next to others who felt it was a bit beyond the pale.

    I like the thought of writing what isn't out there too. Good encouragement.