Shel Silverstein: A Passion For Poetry

2014 words - 9 pages

Shel Silverstein was mastered in the crafts of book and poetry writing, music, and film. Throughout his career, he brought the love of reading to children and adults all around the world. His passion for book and poetry writing has taught children life lessons leading into their adulthood, such as the fact that there is not always going to be a happy ending, but giving up should not be an option. Throughout Silverstein’s life, he made an impact in the book and poetry world and is still continuing to impact readers of all ages today.
Sheldon Silverstein was born in 1932 in Chicago, IL. He was the first child of Helen Balkany and Nathan Silverstein. Helen was 34 and Nathan was 39 when they decided to start their family (Rogak). Since Silverstein’s parents were older, growing up he was very influenced by them. Nathan constantly told Silverstein to focus on his schoolwork, but instead he focused more on his dream of one day playing for the White Sox. During his teenage years, he decided to become a hot dog vendor so he would get paid to attend each game, instead of paying to see the team play. While he was not busy working as a hot dog vendor, he took up drawing. According to him, he was not popular with the girls and not good at sports so drawing was the next best activity to take up in his spare time.
As Silverstein grew up, he become a very private person, so not much is known about his personal life. (Rogak). In the 1950s, Silverstein joined the U.S. Armed forces, spending most of his time in Korea and Japan. He drew cartoons for the Pacific Stars and Stripes while he was serving. In 1952, Hugh Hefner discovered Silverstein’s work and wanted him to begin as a writer and cartoonist for Playboy magazine. Hefner “felt the cartoons conveyed just the right combination of off-color flair and edginess he was looking for” (Rogak). His first cartoon appeared in the March 1956 issue. Since Silverstein worked for the magazine, he got the opportunity to live at the Playboy Mansion for a couple of years. Even though most contributors to magazine preferred to stick to one genre, Silverstein decided to leave the mansion and pursue his new love of jazz and folk music, books, and theatre.
Once he left the mansion, he began producing an album of jazz songs, all of which he he wrote and sang himself (Rogak). During this time, he was introduced to the book editor for Harper and Brothers, Ursula Nordstrom (Encyclopedia Britannica). She convinced him that he should write for children. Since not much is known about his personal life, the only known fact about his personal relationships is that he did not stay with the same woman for more than a month or two. He also had a daughter, but the mother is unknown. In Silverstein’s view, he did not believe in allowing himself to be tied down to a person, place, or thing for the rest of his life. Nothing could get in the way of his passion which was creativity. His work always came first (Rogak)....

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