Poet John Oliver Simon Inspires WoodPark Elders


By Karen Melander-Magoon, D.Min.

March 21, 2015

John Oliver Simon, poet with California Poets in the Schools, inspired  17 participants at AgeSong’s WoodPark elder and assisted living community on Saturday afternoon, March 21.

John said his greatest inspiration was his granddaughter and his now seven-year old muse, who objected to strangers knowing her only through her father’s poetry, so she and her dad came upon a nom de plume, “Isabella”.

John’s lovely evocation of a day at market with his then two-year-old granddaughter, who ended the day in the back seat of the car with her private “Choo” song, was just one of the many delightful moments participant were privy to through John Simon’s poetry.

His mother’s friends, who played the role of “Dad”, were all Jewish graduates of Ivy League colleges, according to one poetic description of his childhood. He also expressed in his poetry deep pride in going to school and playing ball with Lou Gehrig, who claimed, after suffering from the eponymous diagnosis of ALS (the same diagnosis that Steve Hawkings has), that he was perhaps the “happiest man alive.”

Luis, a participant in the poetry group, said, “John writes poetry that has motion.”  He added, “Especially in the reverie in which a five-year-old John is racing through grain higher than his head to escape a storm after watching his “dad, not my father” dive into a pond where the little boy was bouncing in a red inflatable vest under an ‘existential willow,’ feeling perhaps the lack of love between his parents and hoping in vain, as a little boy might well do, that the family will be whole and loving.”

As the group members opened up their own poetic thoughts, Bonnie, another participant, mentioned being published in the blog spot “GoInspireGo”. She shared the following poem she had written.

 A Poem by Bonnie

Many’s the time I have wondered —

“Why was I put here to wander or roam?

Where is my home? Who sent me and why?

Was I born just to die?”

“What is this place of confusion and madness where each smiling face conceal fear and sadness?”

“Have I a road which I must follow?

Or will I drift on like a poor little swallow with no one to care for the burdens I bare.

Oh the paths they are many,

oh they twist and they turn.

Take one I’ll find glory, take another I’ll burn,

but if love will just find me

and take me away

from these chains here that bind me

no more will I stray like a lamb in the glen.

For my heart will find courage,

and then I’ll find my goal and I’ll do my best

’til my body and soul shall both come to rest like the swallow—

the one whose finished her nest.”

All in all, a remarkable afternoon with a very expressive poet/educator who was willing to open a door to his heart, his emotions, his family and his very personal life, so that participants could come away richer for having had a glimpse through that door.  We look forward to more afternoons with John Oliver Simons at WoodPark.