In a recent writer’s blog post “Helping Your Child Find the ‘Inner Writer,'” author Misha Crews (Homesong) suggests ways parents can encourage children to discover and develop their writing talents. It’s wonderful reading if you’re a parent with a prospective young writer in the house.
One of her points is never criticize. “There are few things on earth more fragile than the creative spirit,” she says. “You’d be amazed at how easy it is to crush a burgeoning artistic impulse. A well-intentioned but careless comment from you could easily put your children off writing for quite some time.”
As I read that wonderful advice, I remembered how nurturing my parents were when they read the poems and other writing experiments my two brothers and I posted on the refrigerator door. Like the pristine refrigerator doors all over town, our’s soon became covered with recipes, notes from friends, doctor’s appointment cards and other memorabilia. At some point, my father began posting poems there. Many were short and humorous like:
Some poems diamonds are
That nothing can surpass,
But the jingles that I write
Are only broken glass.
Others were seasonal, focused on birthdays and anniversaries and current events.
Soon, my brothers and I were doing this, too. We often wrote poems about nature, including the large national forest south of town and the beaches of the north Florida Gulf coast. Even though our efforts didn’t always obey the laws of poetry–to the extent we understood them–they were praised. To our embarrassment, our parents started pointing out the publishing nature of the refrigerator door to friends, family coming through town, and even the TV repairman and others making service calls.
Initially, I think some readers were drawn to the output of The Refrigerator Door Publishing Company, Ltd. by the humorous quatrains of my father.
Like a postage stamp
On the wrong letter,
He married badly,
Knowing no better.
(I’m sure the fact that my mother was a good cook and kept the refrigerator well stocked with quality eating materials probably played in to the door’s high ratings.)
When my brothers and I weren’t feeling especially creative, we transcribed well-known poems from famous poets and posted them on sheets of paper with titles like POEM OF THE WEEK or WEEKLY VERSE or SONNETS FROM OLD BOOKS IN THE HOUSE.
The door was a blank slate, a continuing opportunity, an exciting playground for word games, and–when it came down to it–our first publishing house. Everyone read it and talked about it, and some people even remembered what they read there, especially when my father’s latest humor appeared:
His wife may lack brains,
Her beauty may dim,
But like good glue she’ll
Stick always to him.
The kitchen was a very encouraging environment: it was almost like a writer’s club or round table. The poems on the that door were a constant dance of words for over 30 years. When Crews speaks about a child developing his or her inner writer, she says “There are few things in life more gratifying than helping a child to achieve satisfaction and gain a sense of accomplishment and of his or her own self-worth.”
She could have been talking about my parents and the smiles and kind words that greeted each new work disseminated to the readers of the Betton Hills subdivision–and from there, Tallahassee and the world. Without The Refrigerator Door Publishing Company, Ltd., I might have ended up as a grave digger, street sweeper or a pickpocket.
Poems in this post Copyright (c) by Laurence R. Campbell.