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Carol Cullens Sacramento / United States, Female, 78
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  • POEM: Abou Ben Adhem by James Henry Leigh Hunt (8/11/2006 4:04:00 PM)

    This poem helped me make the best of a rotten month at camp when I was ten years old.

    I had been dumpster-diving (it would be decades before that term would be invented, but I've never hesitated to visit other people's trash) and pulled a book out of a trashcan when I was about 6 years old. It had stories, biographies and poems, and as soon as I read Abou Ben Adhem I decided to memorize it.

    Fast forward about four years later, me in a Catholic camp somewhere in Upstate New York. It was awful, because the nuns decided that the hives I developed from food allergies were something contagious, and banned me from the swimming pool. What a tragedy. How do you make friends when you can't take part in the major activity?

    One night it rained unexpectedly and we all trooped into the huge meeting room, the nuns unprepared for entertaining us in captivity. Finally one asked if anyone was interested in singing or reciting a poem. Up shot my hand-I've never been afraid to get up in front of a crowd. My rendition of Abou Ben Adhem was a hit. I even dramatized it a bit when I realized I had them hooked. Needless to say, I soon made a couple of friends who were reading geeks, and the rest of the month was a piece of cake.

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