Friday, December 15, 2023

Book Your Stocking 2023 with Deidre D.S. SENSE Smith

On this year's Book Your Stocking, readers are sharing children's books from their past or present. Perhaps you'll stumble upon readers who read the same books as you, or will start remembering books important to your own childhood. Should a book find its way into a stocking near you, all the better.

Please welcome Deidre D.S. SENSE Smith from Detroit, Michigan.


The Poem I Ate Up

by Deidre D.S. SENSE Smith

Growing up, I was blessed to have had a nice selection of music and literature to accommodate any mood I was in. I would often escape into a world of my own through an array of sights and sounds that were a radio or book shelf away. One in particular "Eat-It-All Elaine" became an instant favorite. "Eat-It-All Elaine" is a poem by Kaye Starbird, published in 1963. 

In 1980s elementary school, my then gym teacher Ms. Williams, needed a moment of downtime and opted for a storytelling day in place of our usual regimen. This would be the day I was introduced to Starbird's fun and succinctly direct work. The tone of Ms. Williams voice and the focus of consonance and end rhyme made the poem flow like a folk song. 

Starbird wrote what felt like an Edgar Allen Poe prose . . . for a Dr. Seuss audience. The character Elaine was so unbothered by the gaze and whispers around her as she took up space with her peculiarities. She wasn't concerned with The Court Of Public Opinion! She was a loner, odd and maybe a bit gluttonous, but she was herself. I think that this story aided in the affirming of my self-awareness and building of my self-esteem. Through Elaine, Kaye Starbird issues a license for us to simply BE! After all, Elaine with all her ick and weirdness become the most admired and decorated amongst her peers. It was a pivotal moment in the young lives of those of us who were just learning about the world and the distinctions of the people in it. 

Thirty-five years later, I wonder how many of my elementary schoolmates remember that story--that day--that revelation. 

I certainly do.


About Deidre D.S. SENSE Smith: Deidre is a poet, rapper, writer, and community activist. She works as a lecturer in the music department at University of Michigan. Learn more about her here:

Deidre D.S. SENSE Smith