Monday, June 19, 2017

B Is For Bullies

In my new book Atrocious Poems A To Z I wanted to address a phenomenon I coined called "parental amnesia." I believe it stems from adults selectively minimizing the traumas of childhood because they have been repressed or replaced with adult stresses, which may seem far more serious than what children go through. We forget how hard it was being a child. In the book my original concept was also to poke fun at those things children were taking too seriously, like haircuts, ir immunizations, that we know as adults we all survive. But as I worked on the book, and watched my own children go through their day to day battles with stress and anxiety, I started to realize these aren't always dilemmas to be taken lightly. 

The first panel Jenny and I worked on was about asparagus. I intended for the rest of the book to be light-hearted as well, but I couldn't help harkening back to my own childhood, and how on a daily basis I might deal with bullies, loneliness, and a dozen other anxiety provoking stressers that weren't funny at all. So, it became my goal in the book to write about these topics in such a way that parents might even be able to bring them up and discuss them with children. Of course Jenny's illustrations are invaluable in offering a counterpoint to my words so when the words are offering one perspective the images can be offering an even deeper or more nuanced one. 

B Is For Bullies Illustration by Jenny Mathews From Atrocious 
Poems A To Z

For instance, in this particular panel I think my poem is a little weak, but Jenny has enhanced it with a complex illustration. She explained to me that girls can bully in quite different ways than boys do. Much more subtle. They can be doing it right in the open and it is difficult to tell. In this illustration she asked me which girl is the bully, and I had to admit I couldn't decicde which one was. And that was her point. This is one of the benefits of having one of the most sought after illustrators in the Midwest sitting at the next next.

I just went through the effort of download PAINT.NET so I could send myself all 26 illustrations from Jenny's computer while she and the kids are camping with grandpa in Rhinelander, home of the Hodag, and since this is the first time I have JPEGs of the panels I'm going to post them here at Outsider Poetry and break one of the rules of creating by talking about them and the process. 

I hope you'll be interested enough to read a few of the blog entries, and if the poems and illustrations win you over, maybe you'll go ahead and buy the book

On to C is for Crayons 

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