Cameron Penny's "If You Are Lucky in This Life" was orginally published in the November/December 2001 issue of North American Review. Marie Howe reads his poem in the film Voices in Wartime. The scene is from a Poets Against the War reading by prominent American poets that took place in February of 2003 at Lincoln Center in New York, on the eve of the Iraq War. At the time his poem appeared in Voices in Wartime, Cameron Penny was 9 years old. The poem appears at 5:50 from the beginning of the video.
If You Are Lucky in This Life
If you are lucky in this life
A window will appear on a battlefield between two armies.
Two young poets, Cameron Penny and Alexandra Indira Sanyal, are featured in Voices in Wartime. Unlike other poets in this module, there are no questions for reflection or discussion following their poems.
There is something unique about young people writing poetry and it is illustrated in the works of both of these artists. Poetry is a genre that seems made for the youth. Young people have a way of saying what they are thinking and feeling in so few words, and very often their poems have an expressive climax to which forces the reader/listener to intone: “if only I could have said it like that,” or “if only it were that simple.” Just as Picasso reminded his fans that it took him most of his life to learn how to draw like a child, perhaps we should be reminded that the wisdom of youth spoken in poetry may be a beam that guides us to possibilities for responding to age-old dilemmas.