Young poet

13th July 2001 at 01:00
Lara Wood, 15,The Grammar school, St Andrews, Guernsey.

Tomorrow's too short when you've lived for today

You made a mistake, now I will not stay.

Tomorrow's too short and you've thrown it away.

You know you never allowed me to have my say.

We grew apart and you pushed me away.

Tomorrow's too short when you've lived for today.

Why don't you care Dad? Why don't you say,

'You make me proud, Lara, everyday.'

Tomorrow's too short when you've lived for today.

Now I'm past caring, why should I pay?

You made a mistake Dad, now I'm drifting away. Tomorrow's too short when you've lived for today.

Have I let you down Dad? Why don't you say,

'I love you my daughter, more and more everyday.'

Tomorrow's too short and you've thrown it away.

I've drifted too far now, maybe one day

You'll understand Dad, what you've let slip away.

Tomorrow's too short when you've lived for today.

Tomorrow's too short, Dad, and you've thrown it away.

Poetry often contains strong feelings and powerful messages. Lara Wood's distressing villanelle expertly handles difficult emotions within a solid structure. Without such a strict form, the poem would be too raw. But Lara Wood's control never falters or breaks down.

This teenage poem grapples with notions of time. The theme can be understood by many, distant dads and daughters alike. At the heart of this personal poem is a philosophical message: carpe diem, seize the day. The anger is held tight by the rhyme scheme and is all the more effective. "Tomorrow" offers some hope: "maybe one day you'll understand Dad, what you've let slip away".

Lara Wood's poem is stamped with the teenager's hallmark in a perfect fusion of maturity and immaturity; a fury at not being understood. Poetry can say difficult things; it's better than screaming in a face or slamming a door.

Jackie kay Lara Wood receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Samuel Thompson. Jackie Kay's most recent collection of poetry for children, The Frog who Dreamed she was an Opera Singer, won the Signal Award. Please send poems, preferably no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email: friday@tes.co.uk

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