My children’s favourite picture book author, Sherrill S. Cannon has just published a ‘grown up’ book of poems called, A Penny For Your Thoughts: Poems of Love and Loss (Feelings Into Words) and I am pleased to be sharing it with you on Valentine’s Day (which also happens to be Sherrill’s birthday – Happy Birthday!!). However, I assure you this book is a good read year-round as well!
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If you have read any of Sherrill’s children’s books, you will know that she has the stereotypical rhyming of poetry down pat. But of course, poems for grown ups do not always contain rhymes and rhythms; however, they have other ways of adding interest and fun when appropriate! I do enjoy poetry, however I am not the biggest connoisseur, but even I recognised the haiku (my nephew’s favourite), and you’ll also find free verse, blank verse, sonnets, plays on words, and there are some fun poems that are created like little works of art with the words travelling up and down the page. There’s lots of variety of style for every taste.
Sherrill spent many years teaching children and used poetry as way to help council teens through tough times. Poetry can give rise to new feelings and perspectives and has a way of going deeper into your thoughts while still being able to keep them shrouded behind a curtain of language and nuances that may not be visible to everyone.
Poetry is a very personal way of writing and different people can read different meanings into it depending upon their own circumstances. This is one of the things I happen to love about it (although my teachers often disagreed with my own interpretations as they didn’t align with the scholars). But now that I’m not being graded on my answers, I like it even more! Tristan has always been drawn to poetry, even having his very first poem published, so he was interested in reading Sherrill’s poems as well.
A Penny For Your Thoughts is divided into three main topics:
A Penny For Your Thoughts is a collection of over 150 poems within the themes of
- HEADS…Of Love And Friendship
- SPINNING – Of Related Emotions
- TAILS…of Heartache and Anguish
The first section is much lighter and cheerful in scope than the following two sections which become more dark and sombre as she moves from the joys of new love to heartbreak, death, and destruction. Currently I’m preferring the more upbeat poems such as I Think of You, Philosophy, and Thorns. On the flip side, I can also relate to All That’s Left and Existence.
I have not read all of the poems in their entirety yet…as easy as it would be to sit down and read them at once, I’m taking my time to read one or three now and then. Sometimes making a point to sit and relax and take my time and clear my head. At other times this book may catch my eye as I pass by and I’ll pick it up, open it at random and have a quick read to mix up my day and take my mind off the constant movement and responsibilities, if even just for a moment or two. Poetry is something that enables you to do this. I have already consumed about three quarters of this book and some poems I have returned to more than once.
In the depths of my winter
I heard a small bird –
Braving the cold,
Bringing the word.
He gave my heart hope
As I heard him sing –
Three little notes
There are a couple of sub-themes running throughout this book on the lines of the seasons, family, memories, rebirth, growth, and nature. Personally, I’m the most drawn to the poems where nature features. The crocuses (croci?) are now pushing up through the earth here and remind me each year of Tristan’s early arrival. They also have special meaning to Sherrill as well as they make several appearances.
I’m not sure if all of the poems are drawn upon Sherrill’s own love experiences, past and present, or if she’s also drawn from the lives of her children and grandchildren as they grow; or if for some she is compassionately thinking of how others will feel in particular circumstances. Of course, a wordsmith will never reveal their secrets…and it is none of the reader’s business as we are drawn to the words and impose our own lives and emotions onto them.
I am going to admit that I am not gifted with words when it comes to revealing my emotions; so today Phil will find one of Sherrill’s poems inside his hand-made Valentine’s card. And coincidentally, we’ve just received a book about how to write your own haiku and the children will be reading a few of Sherrill’s poems as examples. So from education, love, and relaxation, A Penny For Your Thoughts is a book for anyone who appreciates love and romance (or the pain of loss).
A Penny For Your Thoughts is available on Amazon.