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  • Writer's pictureMark Bird

National Poetry Day UK. The Theme is Choice. Here is my poem, "I Did Not Choose."

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

This year's National Poetry Day in the UK is on 7th October 2021.

I love the theme: "Choice" is such an evocative word and everyone will have a their own personal response to what that word means: maybe a million different things all at once.

I've written two poems to celebrate #NationalPoetryDay. Both are inspired by my own childhood experiences of what choice meant to me and how those young imaginings still live strong within me today.

To still be inspired as an adult, by all the things that inspired you as a child, is a great beast of a thing!

My first poem, "I Did Not Choose" could be used with children and teenagers to explore what choices they had (or didn't have) as young children. What has changed now they are older. What do they feel they have power over, that they didn't then?

I Did Not Choose

I did not choose my day of birth

I did not choose my name

I did not choose my start on Earth

I did not choose my brain

I did not choose my faith or face

I did not choose my schools

I did not choose my human race

I did not choose the rules

I cannot choose the sunshine days

I cannot choose the storm

I cannot choose the people’s ways

I cannot choose the norm

But somewhere in the in-between

From first to final gasp

My destiny of how I’m seen

is held within my grasp

So I will choose: Escape the chains

So I will choose: Be free

So I will choose: Erase the stains

So I will choose: New Me

I’ll choose each day not I but We

I’ll choose and chase the choice

I’ll choose my path and what I’ll be

I’ll choose to hear my voice

Mark Bird

My second poem is a simple, indulgent ode to one of my poetry heroes from childhood. I was twelve, maybe thirteen, when we studied Robert Frost's, "The Road Not Taken" at school. Even the dullest teacher could not grey its glory. I found the power of poetry in that one, single lesson (no thanks to Ms X). I went from A.A. Milne to Robert Frost in a an hour at school and demanded my mum buy me a Robert Frost poetry book for Christmas.

Before that, Christmas gifts were obvious: Ataris, keyboards, portable colour T.V.s, record players with in-built disco lights and The Purple People Eater Game. I was becoming a discerning teenager. Who knew!?

In the same year of 1983, via the serendipity of life, I watched the teen-tingling, spell-binding film, The Outsiders which used Robert Frost's spine-chillingly nostalgic poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. As 80's kids, nostalgia was already a 'thing' in our small town of #Uttoxeter; an emotion we based on the 'distant' memories of primary school, only a year or so before.

We dispensed #nostalgia and cleansed ourselves with it as though we were 60, not 13.

In those magic teenage moments, our collective, revered intelligence wasn't in the sums we could solve or in the metaphors we could make... it was in our innate ability to know that memories are precious and that we should celebrate them before we are way too old to appreciate their faded majesty. (Too old in those days, meant being about 21!)

Stevie Wonder's Stay Gold was on the soundtrack and became a life-lesson of a song in our informative teen years.

Before we'd even had the chance to contemplate our teenage gold, we were reminiscing over the white hot truth of youth that we somehow knew, had already gone forever.

Teenage Poetry Kicks

I chose the path

that wanted wear

for Robert Frost

showed me it’s there

I watched the dawn

go down to day

for Robert Frost

told gold can’t stay

I write the words

I hear my voice

for Robert Frost

gave me that choice

Two poems merged

A teen boy hence

My life diverged

The difference!

Mark Bird

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Finally, here is another poem of mine, quite obviously influenced by Robert Frost and The Road Not Taken: The Different Path

Until next time .... x

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