Aileen Fisher is a favorite poet of mine.
I discovered recently that she grew up in Iron River, Michigan, a small mining town in the Upper Peninsula. My parents-in-law lived on a lake just a few miles out from Iron River for many years, and our family happily drank in the beauty of this area every time we visited them. The woods in springtime are carpeted with showy white trillium blossoms, and in autumn the maples and pines are a stunning mix of fiery oranges and dusky greens. Snow piles up deeply in winter, and lakes and ponds sparkle on the cool-ish summer days.
Aileen rambled about this countryside as a little girl in the early 1900s, so it is little wonder that she fell in love with the natural world. As an adult, she settled herself amid the beauty of Colorado ranchland. I drove through this area just this past fall and gaped at the grandeur and glory of mountains and valleys — incredible.
Fisher’s sense of wonder and delight in nature comes through often in her poems. A down-to-earth woman who claimed she never forgot how it felt to be a child, she drew on her vast reserves of wisdom, wonder, and observation of the ordinary, then forged her thoughts into little gems with great child-appeal.
There’s a fabulous profile of Aileen written by Lee Bennett Hopkins in 1978, on the occasion of Fisher receiving the N.C.T.E. Excellence in Poetry for Children Award, which you can read here.
Of the many volumes of Aileen Fisher’s poetry, the collection I chose today was compiled by asking schoolchildren to pick their favorite poem of hers, which is a marvelous idea. The book is called I Heard a Bluebird Sing, edited by Bernice E. Cullinan, with illustrations by Jennifer Emery. Besides the poems, Cullinan includes brief chats by Fisher about her life, which crop up at the outset of each section. I also enjoyed reading the observations children made about her poetry during the selection process. “She wonders a lot,” one of them said. Music to my ears!
Here’s one poem from the dozens in this book, that is filled with wondering:
How would it be
on a day in June
to open your eyes
in a dark cocoon,
And soften one end
and crawl outside,
and find you had wings
to open wide,
How would it BE?
Here’s an Amazon link for this book, in the hopes that many children come to enjoy the pleasures of Aileen Fisher’s poetry: I Heard a Bluebird Sing
And the Poetry Friday Round-up, full of so many wonderings by lovely people, is hosted this week by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem, so visit her page to find gobs of poetry links.
Come back on Monday for five books to celebrate Earth Day!