There is a lovely article by Ian Macmillan in The Guardian in which he writes about how inspiring his teacher was at school. There’s a link at the end of this post which I recommend to if you haven’t already read it. Macmillan refers to his english teachers simple creed, which was that ‘all children are creative, we can all be writers and, wonderfully, we can all be poets.’
The truth of this statement was brought home to me the other night by my son who is seven years old. Looking out of the window at a full moon he spotted a fly and produced the first line of a new poem. Alex has written poems before, even producing a pamphlet like his old man which he took to a party to show our friends the publishers and writers Jonathan and Maria Taylor. They were impressed enough to include a couple of Alex’s pieces in the latest Hearing Voices magazine. A first publication at seven. Not bad! Anyway, back to the story of his new poem. The first lines were
I tread the step
of a fly’s dance
as the moon rises.
I was at my desk in another room and jotted down the rest of the poem as it came to him. Alex was pottering about getting ready for bed, a faraway look in his eye. He asked me for advice on how to write the next line as he brushed his teeth.
I simply replied ‘how do you want it to go?’ and sure enough he came up with much more original and interesting stuff than I could have provided for him. This boy was ‘in the zone’! and I was genuinely thrilled by the finished poem, not just because it was by my son, but for the freedom of expression and originality it showed. Nature or nurture? I don’t know. I do know that Alex lives in a house where one of his parents spends a great deal of time trying write poems and that the other one thinks this is normal.I guess that helps.
Ian Macmillan’s article is here.