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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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August 6, 2007 | 7 Comments

Mr. Keillor,
My family is not especially creative, so we are a little baffled by our six-year-old daughter's sudden desire to write. We listen to your show religiously as a family, so we think she may have been inspired. You have touched a young listener. What follows are a few of her poems.

A Time for Peace
By: Alex S .

A big bridge
A boat floats by
A bird chirps
What a peaceful place to be

A small flower
A big garden
A still pond
A time for love
A time for giving
A time for peace

A small house
A little garden
A beautiful scene

A time for love
A time for giving
A time for peace

This Ancient Pond
By: Alex S .

This ancient pond here
A frog jumps in
The pond
The sound of water

Best wishes,

Vicky S .
Boise, ID

I'm impressed by any six-year-old who wants to write poems and am sort of knocked out by a little girl who comes up with this series of still images and the phrase "ancient pond" — it's all to be encouraged but without being too dramatic about it, if you know what I mean. Writing poetry is a lovely normal thing. You don't want to make the child think she's thereby Odd and Eccentric and obligated to wear capes and tie her hair back tight and wear black eye shadow.

I wrote a poem about your city once, that goes: "There once was a girl who loved Boise/Because it was peaceful, not noisy/And honest and godly/And no one spoke oddly/As they did around Newark, New Joisey." But "ancient pond" is better.


Dear Garrison Keillor,

I hate to be the poop-head who rats out a 6-year old aspiring writer, but Basho is the author of the haiku (translated in numerous ways, but basically): old pond/ a frog jumps in/ water sound. Obviously the child admired this haiku and that is to be celebrated.

Having no personal desire to extinguish this fresh flame of creativity, perhaps the parent could gently explain that you may "borrow" a theme from another writer and expand upon it but you must not directly copy another's work and then put your name on it. That is plagiarism.

But then again, T.S. Eliot wrote, "Mediocre writers borrow; great writers steal." So what do I know?

Helen K. Davie

Dear Mr. Keillor,
That was a cheap shot bound to get a laugh, except in New Jersey. The last time I saw you live was in Newark, NJ at our lovely NJ Performing Arts Center. You know quite well that "New Joisey" is not how people from NJ talk, but rather how some folks from across the river pronounce it. You disappoint me.
Linda N.

WOW! A six year old who reads Haiku!

So I can now conclude (as a denizen from one of the USA's current colonies [the UK]) that it's not pronounced "Bwars".
There is so much to learn.

Regarding limricks and Boise, I wrote a limrick once and read it at a family gathering in Boise:

The inlaws and outlaws are here
And although there's no pretzels and beer,
We'll sing and we'll dance,
And we'll pick off the ants,
And we'll meet again year after year.

(It doesn't have the pistache of a Keillor masterpiece but it did fit the group.)

Dear Mr. Keillor:

As someone who grew up in Boise (and still takes great pleasure in that fact, even though I'm getting close to the point when 2/3 of my life will have been spent living elsewhere), I think this might be a good time to make a gentle correction. When I was growing up in Boise--going to school at Washington, Hillcrest, West Jr. High, and Borah High School--you could pretty much distinguish those who grew up in Boise from those who were visiting or had moved there from out of state. Those native to the area always pronounced Boise with the soft, syllibant "s," while those from out of state tended to use the "z" pronunciation.

With the great influx of people into Ada County, this truism is no longer so iron-clad as in the past.

A small item in the great scheme of things, but one I thought a man of your erudition and discernment would want to be aware of.

John, once of Boise, Idaho--now of Independence, Missouri


I am a long time listener, over 25 years and while I realize the rhyme scheme you were going for please note. No natural born resident of the Garden State has ever proclaimed that they are from "Joisey". We are a much maligned state but we get the joke. We are able to laugh ourselves because we are confident in who we are.

The North Jersey folks tend to soften the R in the prounciation but it is still Je, not Joi.

Please do not perpetuate this myth, Jersey rhymes with Mersey and never ever with Boise or noisy.

Much Appreciation,
Kym from South Jerzee

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