Yeah…this is one of those times.
During a critique group meeting in 2010, a fellow member had written a short rhyming PB manuscript about a fly and a gnat. It was a cute story, and the word ‘gnat’ got stuck in my head. After a week or so of mulling ideas over, I wrote the first draft of this poem. I revised it, revised it, and revised it some more. And the day before I planned to bring it to the critique group, I discovered…
Shel Silverstein had written a poem with a nearly identical title.
Now, I don’t think I’d ever seen his poem before (of course, anything’s possible, with my memory being what it is) so my heart sank, knowing a title like this would be a tough sell to an agent or editor. I read Shel’s poem, which you can find HERE, and was relieved that is really wasn’t similar to mine at all – but still, titles are important things, and I’d be mortified to think that someone might read my poem and get the impression I was trying to rip him off.
And no, ‘mortified’ is not too strong a word.
I never want someone to read my material and think I’m trying to ‘be’ someone else. Not only do I want to be my own person as a writer and poet, but I take pains to try not to write similarly to anyone else, for that very reason. So, having said this…I present to you:
The Gnat & The Gnu
Gnat said, “Hey there, what’s up, Gnu?”
Gnu said, “not much— how ‘bout you?”
Gnat sighed, “Nothing, kinda blue.”
Gnu asked, “Something I can do?”
Gnat said, “No, just wish I knew
why I’m small – not big, like you.
I have no horns, and no fur, too;
no one wants me at the zoo.
Nothing special, nothing new,
just a gnat without a clue
how to feel and what to do.
Oh, I wish I was a Gnu.”
Gnu thought hard, then said, “It’s true
I’m large, but all I do is chew;
never sprouted wings and flew,
never bathed in morning dew,
just grazed on grass and grew and grew.
Things I do are pretty few,
but I’m glad that I’m a Gnu –
so I’ll be me, and you be you.”
Satisfied, Gnat bid ‘adieu,’
happy he was not a Gnu;
And as he flew away, the Gnu
and Gnu…felt blue.
– © 2010, Matt Forrest Esenwine
Not only is Laura Purdie Salas is hosting Poetry Friday today, but all month long she has been providing video ‘poem starters’ – suggestions to get your brain working! So be sure to visit her blog and check out all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings as well as all her terrific ideas for creating poetry!
Irene Latham’s 2013 Progressive Poem is winding down! This poem started with one blogger April 1 and is travelling from blog to blog, with a different blogger adding a new line to the poem every day. (By next Tuesday, April 30, we’ll have a completed poem!) Here’s a complete list of all the participating bloggers, so you can follow along:
April 1 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 2 Joy Acey 3 Matt Forrest Esenwine 4 Jone MacCulloch 5 Doraine Bennett 6 Gayle Krause 7 Janet Fagal 8 Julie Larios 9 Carrie Finison 10 Linda Baie 11 Margaret Simon 12 Linda Kulp 13 Catherine Johnson 14 Heidi Mordhorst 15 Mary Lee Hahn 16 Liz Steinglass 17 Renee LaTulippe 18 Penny Klostermann 19 Irene Latham 20 Buffy Silverman 21 Tabatha Yeatts 22 Laura Shovan 23 Joanna Marple 24 Katya Czaja 25 Diane Mayr 26 Robyn Hood Black 27 Ruth Hersey 28 Laura Purdie Salas 29 Denise Mortensen 30 April Halprin Wayland