The Hub

News, Notes, Talk

How to write about a 4-year-old poet’s book deal without getting sad.

Jonny Diamond

July 22, 2020, 11:38am

This is definitely a clickbait title because I don’t really know the answer.

In contemplating Nadim Shamma-Sourgen’s recently announced book deal with Walker Books (who will publish a collection of his “astonishing” poetry next summer) I have spent the last 15 minutes of my life cycling through emotions like sadness, despair, hopelessness, tristesse, anger, weariness, confusion, sadness, and finally sadness. This deal, which happened after Shamma-Sourgen was discovered by the poet Kate Clanchy, makes him among the youngest writers ever to be contracted for a poetry collection.

Look, I am legitimately happy when something happens that makes a child feel special—that’s a pure joy—but this very much feels like a publishing gimmick. Here are some samples of Shamma-Sourgen’s poetry.

From “Coming Home”:

Take our gloves off
Take our shoes off
Put them where they’re supposed to go.
You take off your brave feeling
Because there’s nothing
to be scared of in the house

And, from “Baddies”:

Baddies love their baddie friends
Even very baddie ones

Policemen might arrest them
But they’ll still have their love

Sure, poetic taste is complicated (ha!), but this reminds me of hearing other parents talk about the delightful things their children say. Again, that can be lovely and sweet, but not really for publication…

But hell. Fuck it. The world is ending, all the poets are sad anyway. I’m sad anyway. So why not. Let the innocent poetry of toddlers free into this dark universe that it might redeem some last shred of our humanity… I will simply take off my sadness and put it where it’s supposed to go [stomach].

%d bloggers like this: