My grandfather was a poet. He didn’t find this out until after he retired from over thirty years as an electrician for Dow Corning. His family treasures every one of his poems. Each of his daughters keeps a copy of his work collected in a three-ring binder, and I wish I knew where to find those poems he would write and send me on my birthday.
But you’ve probably never heard of him, even if you’re a hardcore poetry fan. You’ve never heard of him because he never published or sold a single poem, except in the occasional senior-center newsletter. To my knowledge, he never even tried to sell any.
This is because, to be honest, he wasn’t a very good poet. We all knew it; even grandpa knew it.
“So,” you might be asking, “how can you say he was a poet?”
If your measure of a poet (or writer) is the number of published works, money earned, or popularity with readers, then you wouldn’t consider him a writer.
But Grandpa didn’t write for any of those reasons. Not being good at writing didn’t stop him from doing what he loved, and it didn’t stop us from treasuring every one of those poems.
He didn’t care if his writing appealed to the masses. He wrote for the same reason we love his writing: It was his way of expressing himself.
He recorded his thoughts, feelings, and observations in each poem, much the way another would do in a journal. Then, he shared them with the people he loved.
Money is nice, but it’s not the only reason to write.
Grandpa Barnum was a deep and deliberate thinker. He was slow to speak, often contributing to a conversation after everyone else had jumped ahead two or three subjects, but when he did speak, his words were always worth listening to.
And there is a wealth of wisdom, wit, and experience in every poem and short story he penned.
He continued his writing almost up until the day he died, well into his eighties. And the value of that collection can’t be measured, even though it will probably never earn a dime.
So, the question I have for you is What words do you have in you that need to be written, that have value beyond dollars and cents?
If you’re interested in Grandpa’s poetry, I’ve included a few here, both below and at the top of this page. Also, keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram pages. In the next month or two, I’ll be posting a selection of my favorites.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.