Poem Highlights Greeting Card Limitations

May 9, 2017

We all do this: Stand in the greeting card aisle, staring at the mass of manufactured sentiments, trying to decide which will suffice because we can't write something original.

Ann Wienen Edmonds reading her poem "Hallmark."
Credit Carl Nelson

With Mother's Day approaching, there's a good chance you're doing it right now -- or will later today.

No doubt, some Mother's Day cards have beautiful quotes or expressions. But even the edgiest ones fail to address the complexities of the mother-child relationship. This limitation was on Ann Wienen Edmonds' mind when we launched our Mother's Day Poetry Contest last month. The Dixon resident responded with "Hallmark" which our contest judge, Susan Porterfield, calls "hard-nosed."

This poem addresses the cardmaker Hallmark directly. Yes, it seems to say, we all love our mothers; but let’s not sweep under the carpet the tensions that can exist between parents and children, even in the best of relationships.

I like that it voices its honesty by taking Hallmark to task. Instead of kvetching  about dad -- or, in this case, mom -- instead of tallying up grievances, this poem focuses on the take-out sentiments of the ready-made greeting card. Thus, the card company bears the brunt of the poet’s disdain rather than the parent having to do so.

How about a Mother’s Day card that says, “I love you, Mom, but sometimes you drive me crazy?” Or one that says, “Thanks Mom. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you, as you keep reminding me.” The tone here is funny and fun, and something to which, I suspect, even the most loving of son or daughter can relate.

Edmonds' poem is one of five selected by Porterfield to be read on WNIJ during Morning Edition. Here's a video of the author reading her poem in our studios, followed by the text:

Hallmark

Mother's Day again,

And the merchant of sunshine,

That U. N. of relationships,

Puts words in our mouths,

Setting terms of exchange

In the shell-pocked territory

Between parent and child

Who know too well

The fields of wounded expectations,

The rows of obligations ranged

Like targets before them.

 

This is a no-man's land,

A barren, narrow strip,

Where mediators

Travel at their risk.

                               

Hallmark,

Sell a card for that!

 

Wednesday, we'll air our third winning poem during Morning Edition at 6:45 and 8:45. Come back here afterward for video of the reading, plus Porterfield's remarks.

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