While I was working on my thesis, manuscript, The House of Saturdays, I spent many hours writing, revising, reading, thinking about writing, why I write, and yes I went back to when it all first started, the first poems, the first notion that the written word could carry so much life, emotion, passion, so much need to be recorded and shared.
I had the amazing fortune of having a Grandfather who loved life, who loved breathing, who loved being passionate about driving his Jeep, about having fun with his grandchildren, about goats, about his country, his family, his culture.
My Grandfather, Rogelio Augusto Arosemena loved to write and to give speeches, he was an amazing orator. From Grandpa Rogelio I learned the grace and gesture of the written thank-you, he told us over and over that thank yous and appreciation cost nothing to give, just time, and that the recepeint of the gesture would always remember, would always appreciate.
Whenever he visited our house in California, he would always leave notes for us to find after he was gone, little notes saying how much he enjoyed the visit, how much he loved us, etc. It became an expectation and he always came through, his notes were found.
My first memory of a poem and or poetry dates back to 1968 or 1969, (next time I go to Panama I am going to validate the date and the reason this all happened). My Grandpa took me and my brother, Roger to a function at the National Museum, it was an afternoon welcome reception for Governor Nelson Rockerfeller, again I am not sure why he traveled to Panama.
My Grandpa wrote a short poem and guess what, I recited it to the Governor, all 8 or 9 years of me. And that is really my first memory of someone loving and being excited about words. My Grandpa wrote the poem and was proud that one of his grandchildren recited it before the group that was there to welcome the American digntary to Panama.
Here is the poem: Untitled by Rogelio A. Arosemena I
Hay en tus ojos un verde esmeralda
que brota del mar
y hay en tu alma un rojo carmín
que vive en el coral
y hay en tu alma algo tan grande
que palabras jamás lo pueden descrifrar.
My second influence was Miss Young. She was my 7th grade English and homeroom teacher at Pitcher Junior High, in Barstow, Californina. My memory: during second semester of English, after we'd completed all the boring and tedious grammar lessons, we had the fortune of being able to experience and learn ¨creative writing.¨
Two assignments I remember, one to write shape poems and one to write a journal, one entry per day. Well I did my shape poems and I also did my journal. That practice of writing everyday began in 7th grade and did not end until I was a senior in college. One day soon I am going to read all my journal volumes, I'm going to mine for material for my stories I am going to write about my Grandma Arosemena, Grandma Chichi as I call her and remember her.
My first real poem after the 7th and 8th grade experience, was the poem I wrote for my Mom´s funeral... I will post that to the site later today or tomorrow. It is titled, Forever She Will Be Gone. I still have the original piece of lined school paper I wrote this one, I need to scan and create a digital copy.