Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Albert J. Bell" and Unlikely Friendship

I've had many really neat experiences and opportunities because of my work as an author. Two of the most memorable experiences were being featured in a "Remembering Your Spirit" piece on Oprah and going to the White House. Number 3 on my own personal list of Pretty Neat Things was having "Albert J. Bell" (page 17 of A Suitcase of Seaweed) chosen for the NYC MTA program. I don't think they're still doing it, but they used to pick a handful of poems each year, print 5000 posters, and put them on the subways and buses. The other two poems (during the cycle when "Albert J. Bell" was up there) were Theodore Roethke's bat poem and William Blake's "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright..." I felt enormously lucky to be #3 in that group.

Apart from being honored, what I loved most about those subway posters is: many people who aren't necessarily "poetry fans" (but who apparently read subway signs) told me that they saw my poem and loved it. And lots of people, I guess, have an "opposite friend" or "unlikely friend," the way Uncle Al was to my grandfather (and vice-versa).

Here's that poem about my grandfather's old friend (not my uncle; we just called him "Uncle Al"):

Albert J. Bell

Forty years of friendship
with my grandfather,
and still Uncle Al cannot eat
with chopsticks.

Forty years of friendship
with Uncle Al,
and still my grandfather forgets
to offer him a fork.

copyright 1996 by Janet S. Wong; all rights reserved


A question for you: do you have a friend who is very different from you in some way? How about your parents or grandparents and their friends? Write a poem about it! You don't have to post it here; just write a poem for yourself, for fun, to empty out your mind sometime when you've got 5 minutes with nothing to do.

If you do post it here, please make sure that it won't be misunderstood and there won't be any hurt feelings...otherwise, best to use it for "wastebasket basketball" practice...

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