I'll take a stab in the dark and guess you probably hadn't written many poems at age seven. Even if you had written a lot of poems at that age, I'll take another stab and guess you probably hadn't published anything yet.
That's not the case for Paul Ghatak, whose excellent poem, "Counting to One," appeared in the 2021 Rattle Young Poets Anthology and is also available for reading at the Rattle website. Ghatak's two-liner is fresh and funny and can show us a lot about poetry if we let it.
The first thing the poem shows us is that age is no barrier to good poetry. Whether you're four years old or ninety-four years old, if you can communicate through language, you can write poems. While this might seem like a simple or even facile observation, it's actually quite important. Part of being a poet is embracing the idea that poetry flows through everyone, and it's the poet's task to remind those who may have forgotten.
Another lesson we can take away from "Counting to One" is that humor can sometimes be sublime. In this case, the "out of the mouths of babes" factor helps, but the fact is, the lines reveal a kind of mathematical absurdity that is smile-inducing, but also thought provoking.
The third, and maybe most important lesson we should take from "Counting to One," is the importance of titles in poetry. It's a great title and it helps pave the way for the two-lines that follow. Even better, the lines live up to the title. If you title a poem "Counting to One" and get everyone's attention, the poem better meet (or surpass) expectations. Choose titles carefully.
Last observations, the poem is nine syllables per line, basically iambic, so we can call it a true rhymed couplet. The meter and rhyme fit the poem's theme of numbers and math and direct, literal observation. The poem displays no figurative language, but makes up for it by use of the word "counting" which -- since we're only going to "one" -- is nearly figurative.
All in all a great effort. And, folks, sometimes that's all it takes to turn out a top-notch, buzzworthy poem. I hope Paul Ghatak's poetic career and fame continue to skyrocket. Big thanks to Rattle for providing us with consistently awesome work day in and day out. It's a wonderful outlet for poetry and you should check them out right now if you haven't already.
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