Stories of Origins
Originally written for the former Woman-Stirred blog on 29 September 2006
I don’t know what light my early poems and drawings might shed on the woman and poet I am now, but I know I’m very glad that I’ve kept them. The Woman-Stirred women have been discussing our earlier lives this week, and wondering why we choose to share certain stories and images with each other. Are we simply looking to build connection, and sharing whatever aims to do that best? Or are we deliberately constructing a particular image, a preferred image for all the others to see?
I wanted to be a writer as young as age seven, probably a lot earlier. In fact, my publishing ambitions may have their origins in a lecture Miss Lambert gave my first year infant class when I was still a small four-year old. A lecture? To four year olds? It had that effect on me, certainly. It was a stern and solemn lecture. In other words, a telling off. She told the class that we should all be ashamed of ourselves, for not one of us would be appearing in the school magazine that year.
This was an important lesson. It may have been my first real and personal understanding of injustice. I knew I had worked very hard in my first term, and this news hit me hard. I remember feeling hot and bothered and almost incapable of keeping still as I sat on the floor with legs crossed, struggling to remain silent. Perhaps it was not our efforts but our age that was against us?
In that moment, as Miss Lambert made me feel shame, I was determined never to find myself in this position again, not if I could help it. I never again wanted to have that feeling of underachievement. And that placed a whole new burden on me for the rest of my schooldays. I would work harder and harder, until my work was acknowledged. Except working harder and harder soon became the norm everyone expected from me.
This is a long preamble to a couple of poems I wrote as a seven or eight year old. I don’t know what these poems have to tell the world now. Cartoons are good, perhaps. They fire the imagination; just don’t watch too many. Be sure to maintain a balance and keep an eye on the natural world also. I don’t know. Perhaps these poems say: never underestimate a child.
Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry
Were having a tug of war with a berry.
Jerry went ouch,
And Tom went eugh.
It splattered on the floor,
And Tom’s bottom became sore.
Tom ran after Jerry,
Jerry hid in a bottle of sherry.
Tom drank the sherry,
And there was Jerry.
Jerry ran across the lawn,
And landed in a prawn.
Tom ate the prawn,
His tail felt like it had been sawn.
He spat Jerry out,
And Jerry looked about.
Tom turned red
And went to bed.
Birds are singing,
Birds are swinging.
They build a nest
Away in the West.
The babys [sic] are squeaking and cheaping,
I can hear a bird weeping.
We have got twenty three budgirigars,
In budgirigars [sic] there is two r’s.
© Nicki Hastie the Younger, 1976/1977
Perhaps I should be grateful to Miss Lambert. Did her words actually fire my desire and passion to write? Just look at those red teacher ticks I was getting for my drawings by age seven!