Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince, that “grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
Some of Mamalode's web-only readers might not recognize 'From the Mouths of Babes', but it is a section in every one of Mamalode's print editions that features a contribution from a young person, frequently in the form of a poem. Young perspectives matter here. The wisdom of parenthood is proportional to the number of hours we spend listening and talking to children.
A couple years ago, when I had the idea to start a podcast for Mamalode, I put in my notes all sorts of ideas about how to include 'From the Mouths of Babes' in podcast form.
A good opportunity to record was all I needed. More than a year went by, and no opportunity presented itself.
So last month, Mamalode contributor and middle school English teacher Gillian Kessler contacted me about a poetry reading her 7th grade class at Missoula International School were doing. I grabbed my recorder and microphone and headed to the school the day before the reading to meet the class.
I recorded the entire class period, even though it was only the rehearsal. I listened to that recording, and I was amazed at how much energy, wit, nervousness, and brilliance was captured in the recording.
Gillian invited me to stick around and meet her 8th grade class next. I confess, I was caught up in the excitement of meeting all those kids, so I stayed, and talked to her 8th grade class about writing, and working at a magazine. Then I listened to some of them read essays they had written. All the while, I recorded.
That recording wasn't the best quality—I only did it as a reference—and it was very long. But that night, I listened to it, and so selected a couple of readings I wanted to focus on. I went back the next day prepared to capture those. One of those poems, read by 7th grader Emmaline Derry can be heard in the episode.
A few days later, I went back and had a chance to sit down with Gillian, Emmaline and two of the kids from her 8th grade class who I had met, Birch Banks and Georgia Walker-Keleher. Birch had a poem published in the most recent issue of Mamalode, and so I was familiar with him. But he had also done something I though was especially powerful: he got up on the steps of the Montana State Capitol at the Women's March in January and read one of his poems to a crowd of over 10,000. In the podcast, you will hear Birch reading that same poem.
Finally, 8th grader Georgia Walker-Keleher reads an essay she wrote called Bat Pee and Torn Jeans.
Each of these kids embodies what Mamalode looks for in a From the Mouths of Babes piece. I'm delighted to have all three of them on this, the first From the Mouths of Babes episode of the podcast. Enjoy.
Show notes follow.
This video of 15-year old poet Royce Mann is referenced in the episode: