Mr. Jack Wendell
English II, A8
May 2, 2008
The One, The Only, Shel Silverstein
According to one of Shel Silverstein’s most popular poetry books, Falling Up, in the poem “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda” Silverstein writes, “All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas, layin' in the sun, talkin' 'bout the things they Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda done... but all those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas all ran away and hid from one little Did,” (Silverstein 65). Shel Silverstein was that “one little Did” and could never be a “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda” because of all of his accomplishments. Though the average person might remember him as a poet, Silverstein also contributed through cartooning, songwriting, and screenwriting, all of which he held a passion for in his heart. His work was not only directed towards children, but also adults, impressing both by utilizing his immense creativity and word manipulation. Shel Silverstein’s distinct creativity and uniqueness is accredited to his individual writing style, his career as a poet and cartoonist, and career as a songwriter and screenwriter. But, people will remember Shel’s poetry more than anything, tickling the minds of many, derived from nobody but Shel Silverstein himself. A Unique Style
Ever since Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, Silverstein’s first children’s book, was published in 1963 (Rogak 221), Silverstein has never failed to create laughter, and capture the hearts of his readers. But before Lafcadio, Silverstein had been creating even
as a child growing up in Chicago. “When I was a kid… I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance… So I started to draw and write. I was lucky that I didn’t have anyone to copy, be impressed by. I had developed my own style,” (http://www.shelsilverstein.com/play.asp).
And it is because of his style that Shel Silverstein will forever be remembered. He was the first and only. Whether through writing or illustrating, Silverstein was himself, and himself only. It is children’s poetry that Silverstein has been most well-known for, perhaps because he shared an important quality that every child holds: imagination. As a poet, Silverstein successfully used many literary techniques such as word play, spoonerisms, and even slang. His readers everywhere were hypnotized by his catchy, easy to understand, but weird way with words. Though a lot of Silverstein’s work was silly and humorous, some of his stories were sweet, loving and humble. Especially one of Silverstein’s most popular works, The Giving Tree, “a story about a tree who gives everything to the boy she loves,” is tender story with a sad ending (“Shel Silverstein: Biography and Much More” ) .
Complementing his poetry were his illustrations, whether wacky or morbid, were a connection to his poems. His illustrations, as distinctive as his writing, presents the reader with the dimension of visual art to further emphasize, make clear, or add to the meaning of the poem.
So, through his poetry and illustrations, we see the different perspective Silverstein had on life. Through his ability to paint a picture through words and pictures, Silverstein inspired his readers to imagine and create. His work was a new and different world where one can escape to, a world designed by Silverstein, but experienced by you. A world conceived from his creations as a poet and cartoonist. Career As A Poet and Cartoonist
In the 1950s, Silverstein started out by cooking up daily cartoons for the Pacific Stars and Stripes military newspaper as a GI in Japan and Korea. As draftee on the staff, he drew “daily panels about barracks life and field soldiering.” Silverstein recalls, “"For a guy of my age and with my limited experience to suddenly have to turn out cartoons on a day-to-day deadline, the job was enormous.'' Though his experience in the military was a bit rough, once one of his cartoons almost got him court-martialed, Silverstein says...