Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Love Affair With a Dead Man

Have I mentioned my love of Shel Silverstein? As the months progress as a Blogger, I fear I may repeat myself from time to time. The good thing is...if it sounds familiar, you can just speed read through the post or click on that little red x in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

But I love him. And it began in first grade. My teacher, Mrs. George would read Shel's poetry (if he was alive, he would be fine that we are on a first name basis). And then when I was eight, I got my first Shel Silverstein book from my mom. Here it is, torn and tattered. I keep it at work with me.

I love my mom. Anywhoodles....

I also love Shel's words. It is pretty amazing when a poem applies to a 7 year old and a 30 year old. One of my favorites, hands down is Listen to the Mustn'ts.

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child

Listen to the DON'TS

Listen to the SHOULDN'TS


Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me--

Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be.

Oh man. For real. I wish how I could explain to you how those words have helped me and pushed me throughout my life. There are so many things, people, thoughts in our own mind that tell us NO. YOU CAN'T DO THAT. THAT WON'T WORK. STOP. But the child in me believes that anything is possible. And when kids are around me, I am always aware of how many times I tell them NO, STOP, NO, DON'T DO THAT, YOU CAN'T!!!

What got me on this kick today was that I was sitting here at work, feeling deep and philosophical, and I started reading through some of my favorite quote books...and in this process I found a quote for Shel that reminded me of some of us...and the demons we are battling now...food or otherwise...

"There is a voice inside of you,

that whispers all day long,

'I feel that this is right for me, I know that this is wrong'.

No teacher, preacher, parent, friend,

or wise man can decide...

What's right for you, just listen to,

the voice that speaks inside."


  1. Oh Ames, I love Shel too! I acted in a really strange one-act play of his in high school, called "What Are You Doing in There?" It's about teen suicide, but lemme tell ya, it's hilarious. But seriously, I adore him, and that second poem you mentioned is SO fitting for our lives... Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have the same book, probably bought about the same time. (I turn 30 in December.) My favorite Silverstein poem, which I think is in different book, is New Kid on the Block.

    When I was 7, I thought that was sooooo clever.

  3. I made myself a snowball,
    As perfect as can be.
    I thought I'd keep it for a pet
    And let it sleep with me.
    I made it some pajamas
    And a pillow for its head.
    Then last night it ran away,
    But first it wet the bed!

    It's my favorite. The punctuation might be off, since I typed it from memory.

    AND we bought Runny Babbit for the Phoenix Children's shelter last night. I didn't want to give it away :) I need to get my books from my mom's the next time I go up for a visit.

  4. I love Shel too! We used to fight at my grade school library about how's turn it was to check out Where the Sidewalk Ends.
    The Giving Tree was one of the first books I bought for Cate - I'm so happy because she loves it now.

    Thanks for the Shel break. :)

  5. OMG, I haven't thought about that book in years! I loved it and read it all the time growing up. Thanks for the memory!!

  6. I hadn't heard of this author until now - but as of this moment I think I will have a look around and try to score his book. What beautiful words. And that they inspire you Amy, even better. It's all we want as a writer - to be listened too and taken to heart xxx

  7. Shel Silverstein rocks! I teach 4th grade and we just studied him and Jack Prelutsky- the kids loved their stuff! His website is really neat too, btw. www.shelsilverstein.com

    : )

  8. so funny how we are told we can do anything and the world is full of possibilities and yet somehow by adulthood that message is skewed and we have to fight so hard for what we want whether that be with peers who tell us we will fail or even worse with that little voice in our heads that is always making us question ourselves!

  9. I love Shel and have that same book too (only with an inscription from my aunt and not my mom). Jacey has it now and loves it!

  10. That last one is so applicable to me today........thanks :-)

  11. love that quote. you are spot on as always! and thank you for kind comment yesterday x

  12. I LOVE Shel!!! I had that book before our house burnt down [of course I dont have it now] but My mom gave it to me when I was about 7 or 8 as well! I need to find another one I always loved reading that book.

  13. My sister and I used to do poetry readings when we were little (complete with hard scarves and dangly jewelry) and SS was a fave of ours, too.

    I get a little lump in the back of my throat whenever I read any of his stuff.

  14. Random fact but my cousin dated shel. hahaha and she actually helped write some of his poems. I also LOVE his poems! hahaha

  15. Great quotes! I'm a Shel fan myself and have already started passing it on to my daughters. My oldest loves "The Giving Tree" and my little one likes to listen to "Where the Sidewalk Ends" because I read the poems in a sing-song voice. Thanks for sharing today!

  16. AS a lover of writting I feel ashamed to admit I've never heard of him. I feel stupid. But I loved the exerts you included so I'll have to go read it! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Amy, thanks so much for your nice comments on my blog! The home in the pics is actually my friend's == you can see pics of my house in my November post called "Party Pics and this time its for real" (I think).

    I was just looking at a magazine that recommended this very book as a perfect Xmas gift! I seem to have lost my copy, might need to gift another one to myself...

  18. I didn't scroll down to the first post of the month when I saw the picture of the Silverstein book. That's probably one of the only poems that I have memorized by heart. I quote it all the time to people when they get down on themselves. Reading "The Giving Tree" makes me cry even to this day. And Liv insists on me reading Dirty Dan and Sarah Cynthia Syliva Stout... would not take the garbage out every time.

    If you don't have "The Missing Piece" or "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" of his, GO GET BOTH.

  19. I love this book! Hadn't seen it in years! I just went online and ordered it for my kids!