As a third grader, I remember learning about the poetry of Robert Frost in our small, snow surrounded red school house with a real bell that we could pulll the giant rope of if we asked nicely to end recess. It was soothing and beautiful poetry that made me think of hot chocolate and felt like home. "Many miles before I sleep had a romance to it."
Around the same time, however, I also remember laughing my ass off and feeling like I was on the inside of a joke when reading A Light On In the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends. These collections of poetry were wonderfully illustrated, wonderfully strange and made you not only laugh but feel like someone else really… well, understood you.
Years ago, I read a biography about Mr. SIlverstein, and became inspired by his passion. His process for putting together his poetry books bordered on obsessive. He'd be at a party, perhaps, think of a poem and have to write it down then and there, or leave immediately to go work it out.
He would spread all the pages of his collections across the room so that he could visually adjust the layout of his books. And, when he needed feedback on his poetry, he would enlist the help of neighborhood kids- for they were his audience!
While I do not think it is necessary to be obsessive, I really admire dedication. Dedication to creating and doing the things you want in life. Sure, someone might find it strange that you've just left their Thanksgiving dinner to go write a poem, but, hey, that's what is important to you! Create a mess that fits with how your mind works. If you need to spread out across a room, by all means go for it. Or perhaps it can be frightening to get feedback, but do it any way with the people whose opinions matter!
I am inspired by his process, but also very much by his illustrations and poems. His drawings were simple but they showed the world fearlessly and humorously. And they didn't apologize in any way or try to be more. They were perfect and just enough.
In addition to being humorous and sometimes outrageous, Shel Silverstein also write poems to inspire hope and creativity.
If you have ever wanted to learn more about the man behind the poems and the cartoons, check out: http://www.shelsilverstein.com/