Journal

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

by | Mar 1, 2017 | Editorial

The author of The Cat in the Hat and so many other beloved children’s books was born on March 2nd, 1904 and died on September 24th, 1991. His full name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, but he adopted Dr.
Seuss as his pen name because it was his mother’s maiden name and apparently she had wanted him to become a doctor!

I feel an especial affinity for Dr. Seuss not only because I read him as a child—Yertle the Turtle was my favorite—and read him to my children and now read him to my grandchildren; and not only because he loved rhyme so much, as do I. No, in addition to all this, I feel a connection to him because of the story behind his most iconic book, The Cat in the Hat, and what it has to do with my upcoming new book, The Alchemy of Illuminated Poetry®—Seven Steps to your Personal Gold.

As you might infer from the above title, my new book is neither fiction nor a children’s book. It is, in fact, a non-fiction book about the mystical, magical poetry process which I invented and which I teach. So what on earth, you might well ask, does that have to do with Thing One and Thing Two?

The story, as I recount in my book, goes back to 1955, when an article called, “Why Johnny Can’t Read” by John Hershey, was published. It talked about how boring the early Dick and Jane readers—that all those of us of a certain age had to slog through—actually were. So Dr. Seuss’s publisher gave him a list of a little over 200 words considered at first grade level and asked him to write and illustrate a book using only those words. The result was The Cat in the Hat, published in 1957. It was an instant success and spawned the entire “I Can Read” book genre. Reviewers at the time commented that the limited vocabulary made him a more disciplined and successful poet, using phrases like “wild restraint” and “extravagant unity” to describe his work.

Today this concept of constraint actually stimulating, rather than limiting, creativity is being written about more and more. And although structured, rhymed, metered poetry has been out of vogue in the literary world for a very long time, it is central to The Alchemy of Illuminated Poetry® process. It is through constraint, both in writing and drawing, that the process yields up its magic.

More about my new book in the coming months, but for now, suffice it to say that I am one Baby Boomer raised on Dr. Seuss who ranks him as one of her poetic inspirations. Robert Frost and Ogden Nash are two of my favorite 20th Century poets. Both were masters of structured poetry. But truly, only one genius could have written:

Socks on Knox
And Knox in box.
Fox in socks
On box on Knox….

and have it actually make sense!

Seuss as his pen name because it was his mother’s maiden name and apparently she had wanted him to become a doctor!

I feel an especial affinity for Dr. Seuss not only because I read him as a child—Yertle the Turtle was my favorite—and read him to my children and now read him to my grandchildren; and not only because he loved rhyme so much, as do I. No, in addition to all this, I feel a connection to him because of the story behind his most iconic book, The Cat in the Hat, and what it has to do with my upcoming new book, The Alchemy of Illuminated Poetry®—Seven Steps to your Personal Gold.

As you might infer from the above title, my new book is neither fiction nor a children’s book. It is, in fact, a non-fiction book about the mystical, magical poetry process which I invented and which I teach. So what on earth, you might well ask, does that have to do with Thing One and Thing Two?

The story, as I recount in my book, goes back to 1955, when an article called, “Why Johnny Can’t Read” by John Hershey, was published. It talked about how boring the early Dick and Jane readers—that all those of us of a certain age had to slog through—actually were. So Dr. Seuss’s publisher gave him a list of a little over 200 words considered at first grade level and asked him to write and illustrate a book using only those words. The result was The Cat in the Hat, published in 1957. It was an instant success and spawned the entire “I Can Read” book genre. Reviewers at the time commented that the limited vocabulary made him a more disciplined and successful poet, using phrases like “wild restraint” and “extravagant unity” to describe his work.

Today this concept of constraint actually stimulating, rather than limiting, creativity is being written about more and more. And although structured, rhymed, metered poetry has been out of vogue in the literary world for a very long time, it is central to The Alchemy of Illuminated Poetry® process. It is through constraint, both in writing and drawing, that the process yields up its magic.

More about my new book in the coming months, but for now, suffice it to say that I am one Baby Boomer raised on Dr. Seuss who ranks him as one of her poetic inspirations. Robert Frost and Ogden Nash are two of my favorite 20th Century poets. Both were masters of structured poetry. But truly, only one genius could have written:

Socks on Knox
And Knox in box.
Fox in socks
On box on Knox….

and have it actually make sense!

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