My First Poetry Book, Aged 10

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but that’s an actual hardback “book” of about 15 pages, maybe?

This is where it all started. My love of poetry. My self-deprecating humor. My inability to spell. My love of pro wrestling. Okay, so some of those things predated this book, but they’re all evident here!

At the time, which is hard to believe, I would’ve been 10-years-old, a few months shy of turning 11. This would’ve been a near-end-of-year project for my fifth grade class, and if memory serves, my fifth grade literary teacher was Mrs. Danner. I want to say that name sounds right. I don’t remember every teacher I ever had, but there are a few who had such an impact or are associated with things pivotal to my life that I remember their names. Her name was Mrs. Danner, and my homeroom teacher next door to her was Mr. Fernandez. Mr. Fernandez stands out to me because taking his class in what would’ve been fall 2000 through spring 2001, it was one of the first time periods post-Columbine. Mr. Fernandez distinctly told us that if someone came through that door, he’d be taking the first bullet. On a lighter note, though, he used to annoy Mrs. Danner by playing, “Feliz Navidad,” and parading us students in between the two classrooms.

But! She’s memorable because while she’s not the first one to get me into writing (I was already into that, thanks to my fourth grade teacher, I believe — she had a Swedish name that I’m not going to be able to properly remember or spell), she did, I believe (sorry, I have to keep hedging with my memory on this) introduce me to poetry. She got me excited about poetry. I remember we had to read poems to the class, and apparently this was before I developed my social anxiety with talking in front of a class, because I was gung-ho about it. I came prepared with half a dozen poems to recite, even though we only needed one. The cog in that excitement was that at the time, I was also unknowingly battling pneumonia and was in extraordinary pain. I was only able to read one poem, and to the dismay of Mrs. Danner, no more.

That’s a huge wind-up to the point that, her class was the one we would’ve done the poetry book in. Now, I don’t have actual memories of putting the book together. I remember writing one of the poems, but otherwise, my memory of it exists as its finished form. I do remember making an addition to the dedication at the front of the book, dedicating it in printed type to my parents, my siblings, my dog, and then scribbled in blue in and squeezed into there was, “Jennifer,” my first crush at the time, and also, my neighbor. Apparently, I have a thing for neighbors (that’s a joke precisely two other people who sometimes read this blog will get).

So, looking at the title, “Brett’s Thoughts of Poetry,” I like to think, had I known the word at the time, it would’ve been, “Brett’s Musings of Poetry.” My brain hasn’t changed in 20 years. Also, you gotta love the artistic part of my brain that likes to randomly do Christmas colors (with some purple and black?) intermixed for the colorization. And yes, I have no idea what the random “impo5” near the bottom means, and I suspect came after I officially submitted it.

One other note about the cover and something I can’t help but think about any time I see the year 2001 is that the date is exactly four months before 9/11, when the entire world would change forever. There’s the pre-9/11 world and the post-9/11 world. These poems exist in that pre-time.

As you can see from the poems I selected to show for the blog, the idea behind the book, or at least how I approached it, was to glue poems into the pages rather than write on the pages themselves. Some of the poems exist by themselves on the page, and some have the addition of photographs or in one case (not pictured here), I talked about my love of Froot Loops (which, if you follow this blog, you appreciate the poetic irony of that), but for some reason put a tab from a box of Honey-Comb cereal on the bottom. Other poems I think had pictures at one point, but over time because of poor glue technique, they fell off. Enjoy a romp back through 10-year-old me’s head!

Even then, I was in love with free verse.
I was very proud of this poem at the time, and still think it holds up as a haiku! This might be my first haiku poem or thereabouts. As you can see from my daily haiku challenge posts, I’m still in love with the form today.
Here’s where the self-deprecating humor comes in, but it’s also revealing of my poetry style at the time, taken somewhat from Shel Silverstein: Every poem’s last line has to twist a bit from the rest of the poem. Unlike haiku, however, I can’t remember the last time I did an acrostic poem.
This was the final entry in the poetry book. Aside from the misspelling, I also think it holds up fairly well for a 10-year-old!
And here’s the back cover. As a kid, when all else failed, I would do the spiral.

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