The Poet and the Owl
the poet and the owl
there was an owl flying over the sun, which was shining on the sea. he spotted a poet riding on a shark. so the owl flew down and tapped the poet on the shoulder and the poet jumped. the poet had been writing about an owl who flew over the sun shining on the sea and met a poet.
Did I mention that I love this poem? I love the casual way it lets the impossible happen, so that it seems perfectly natural. Why shouldn't the owl fly over the sun? And I love its circular logic: the owl discovers the poet and/or the poet invents the owl. It sets off a spiral which keeps spinning in my head long after the poem's over.
For me -- a poet currently in the throes of a month-long poem-a-day whirlwind -- Gary's poem touches on serious questions. Does the artist actively create his or her ideas, or do the ideas take hold of the artist? Who is in control? I don't think I'm "reading too much" into a third-grader's poem. Instead, I believe that kids have better insights and intuitions than we often give them credit for. When you give them space and a push to create, they are as capable as anyone of surprising us.
Gary wrote this poem during a two-week "focus study" on nonsense and surrealism that I'm currently teaching at Ann Arbor Open. I am grateful to Gary for giving me permission to share it, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he and the other students come up with next.