April is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. With so much focus on Reading Literacy and Math, or STEM in the curriculum, poetry often gets pushed aside. But its lyrical language and rhyme can make children better readers and writers. And…it’s so much fun to listen to – especially with the numerous forms it can take, such as Haiku, Limericks, etc. One of my all-time favorite poems – Jabberwocky – by Lewis Carroll has so many made-up words, yet sounds like music to the ear. Here’s the first verse:
“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe.”
Such whimsical nonsense that rolls off the tongue like silk! There is so much to love about poetry. Take a moment to introduce your kids to the fun of such poems as:
A tutor who tooted a flute
Tried to teach two younger tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
“is it harder to toot,
Or to tutor two tooters to toot?”
Here are a few poetry sites for kids of all ages. Some even publish kids poems.
Celebrate NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and “TOOT” a few poems of your own. What’s your favorite poem?
To celebrate National Poetry Month, I asked a fellow writer and poet, Lori Degman to share some different kinds of poetry forms. Lori’s picture books, 1 Zany Zoo, (Simon & Schuster 2010) and Cockadoodle,Oops! (Creston Books 2014)
were written in rhyming verse, and are an absolute delight to read aloud. Here’s Lori:
Thank you, Darlene, for asking me to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!
As a writer of rhyme – most of the time (but not always), and because April is National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share four unusual forms of poetry I’ve discovered through the years. I challenge you to give them a try – I bet you’ll have fun if you do!
1. Cinquain – a five-line poem that follows this pattern:
Line 1: One word (subject or noun)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives that describe line 1)
Line 3: Three words (action verbs that relate to line 1)
Line 4: Four words (feelings or a complete sentence that relates to line 1)
Line 5: One word (synonym of line 1 or a word that sums it up)
Here’s my Cinquain:
Raining, blossoming, growing
Goodbye to old winter
2. Clerihew – a light verse, usually consisting on two couplets of uneven length and irregular
meter, with the rhyme scheme AABB. The first line usually contains the name of a well known
person. The Clerihew was invented by Edmund Clerihew Bently (1875 – 1956), an English
writer, at the age of 16.
Here’s my Clerihew:
Is out on the loose.
He’s hunting for words
that are silly and absurd.
3. Sausage Poem – a string of words which are “linked” with the same letters/sounds at the
endings and beginnings of words. An extra challenge is to go full circle and have the last
letter/sound of the sentence match the first letter/sound. It’s harder than I thought it would be!
Here’s my Sausage Poem: (Darlene highlighted the letter sounds in orange to show the technique)
Spring goes slowly yet time elapses.
Summer rain nurturing growing greens.
Fall leaves swirl like caustic kids.
Winter rains snow over rustic cabins.
4. Skeltonic Verse – The Skeltonic Verse was named after English poet, John Skelton
(1460-1529). The rules are simple:
Line 1: Keep the line lengths between three and six words
Line 2: Every end word rhymes with the previous, until you start a new set of rhymes
Line 3: Keep the same rhyme until it starts to lose its energy or impact
Line 4: The poem should be full of energy and fun
Here’s my Skeltonic Verse (I wrote this right before going out to do my “duty”):
The weekend’s here
I shout and cheer
Until I hear
A voice so clear
From in the yard
the words were hard
So I was jarred
My plans were marred
Outside on the stoop
With a bag and scoop
His words made me droop
“Let’s pick up poop”
Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekends and school holidays. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was released by Creston Books in May, 2014! She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary.
Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but I am going to have to try a Skeltonic poem of my own. Which form speaks to you?
As parents, we are constantly teaching our children about the world: rules, facts and essential life truths such as: Be kind. Be patient. Bees sting. Eat your vegetables. Don’t eat the sand. Say please and thank you. Don’t step on that ant. As they grow older, teaching can morph into school related lessons: spelling tools, vocabulary words, and math tricks such as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. As they grow even older, teaching becomes somehow more life affirming: Don’t drive and text. Be kind. Be true to yourself. Do your best. Hold your head up high. High school only lasts for four years.
In return, our children teach us how to be patient and forgiving. How to be creative and inventive. How to be happy. Watching them grow and learn has taught me a lot about myself, and I am a better person because I am a parent. But it is a rare event that I learn something academically new from my children. There are plenty of instances where I’ll encounter something I absolutely once knew, but have lost on the journey to adulthood, like, you know, the sum of interior alternate angles or how to balance a chemical equation. My college major was English after all. So imagine my surprise when, while reading aloud my new work-in-progress, my teenage son says “That’s anaphora.”
Stop the merry-go-round. What is he saying? Is it Latin? Text-talk? A new girl in his class? He explains it is a literary device he is learning about in AP English concerning rhetoric. What? He shows me his list of literary terms and I suddenly morph into a kid in a candy shop, marveling over this plethora of devices that I am unconsciously using and about which I have heard nary a whisper. I scurry off to devour this list, to taste each device and explore my own skill in using such lofty literary language without even knowing it.
There are reasons that these literary devices exist. It is because they work. The use of these devices makes writing stronger, more lyrical, more beautiful. Without even knowing it, I bet you will find your work peppered with polysyndeton, anadiplosis and euphony. Here are some of my favorites:
Alliteration. This one you will know as it is very common in picture books. I love alliteration and I’m sure you are familiar with the repetition of similar sounds in the beginning of successive words. I use them a lot in titles such as Stick and Stone or Pirate’s Perfect Pet.
Anadiplosis. This is the repetition of the last word of the preceding clause in the beginning of the next sentence. So it is almost like a word-segue between sentences. It’s hard to do, but very effective. The most recent and perfect example I can think of comes from the lyrics to the song “Glad You Came” by The Wanted:
Turn the lights out now
Now I’ll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink
Drink it if you can
Anaphora. This device is like alliteration but involving words instead of sounds. It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause or sentence. The opening of A Tale of Two Cities is the perfect example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . It was the epitome of anaphora.
Anastrophe. Using this device allows the order of the noun and adjective to be reversed – think Yoda. It is also knows as hyperbaton, from the Greek meaning ‘transposition’. Poe uses this device to great effect, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing.”
Assonance. Like alliteration, assonance repeats sounds, but the sounds produced by the vowels only, such as “purple curtain”. In the same vein, consonance is the repetitive use of the consonant sounds, usually at the end – stuck, streak, luck. You probably use both of these without even knowing it.
Beth will return with MORE LITERARY DEVICES next month. Rest assured…there are LOTS more!
Beth Ferry lives and writes near the beach. Her debut book, Stick and Stone, will be released on April 7, 2015 by HMH. Land Shark (Chronicle) will be released in Fall 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick) follows in Fall 2016.
Picture Book Writer, and workshop presenter extraordinaire, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallan is hosting a web-based workshop on using poetic techniques in Picture Book writing. This 5 week, interactive and flexible e-Course is unlike anything else for enhancing the art of picture book writing. The course begins on MAY 19, 2014. To register and check out the details: Poetry Course Flyer.
Here’s the link to the website and program: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-great-discounts-pleasures-and-craft-of-poetic-techniques.html
You can visit Sudipta at her website: http://www.sudipta.com
April is the month we will honor and celebrate two very reading/writing related things: Poetry and Libraries. April is National Poetry Month and also National School Library Month. What better way to celebrate than to gather poetry books from the school library and read aloud in class. This could be a lead-in to having kids write their own poetry. Ken Nesbitt has a great website especially for kids: http://www.poetry4kids.com You’ll find all kinds of wonderful poems, a rhyming dictionary and even poetry contests. Be sure to check out this wonderful sight.
To learn more about activities to celebrate School Libraries, visit the American Library Association website at: http://www.ala.org
If your child loves to create stories, there are two websites that will encourage this skill by publishing the effort.
1. At http://www.Boomwriter.com young writers pick a story start and then make Chapter Two their own. Other children vote on which second chapter they like best, and so on until the story is completed. Then the finished books are available to purchase.
2. Writers and Artists are invited to submit to the print magazine STONE SOUP. This magazine publishes the work of children aged 8-13. To learn more and read some of the stories visit: http://www.Stonesoup.com
3. Older children might want to check out THE SLAM feature of CICADA Magazine. Writers submit their poems to the online forum and have them critiqued by other readers. The best ones make it into the magazine each month. http://www.cicadamag.com/theslam