KidPoWriMo Day 12 ~ Repetition

If you know the Pledge of Allegiance, or can recite a prayer, or remember something a family member told you when you were little, it is because of one thing: repetition. Whether you were standing in a classroom with your hand on your chest, or kneeling in a house of worship or sitting at the kitchen table, you remember these things because you did them everyday or every week for long time.

When you share your poem, you may have just one chance. Someone might read your poem from a page or you may read it to them. Either way, at the end of the poem, your opportunity is over. If your message is important enough for you to write it in a poem, how will you get your audience to remember it? Use repetition.

Poetic word of the day: refrain (click here to see the definition on Merriam-Webster’s Word Central)

You can repeat words, phrases or whole stanzas in your poems.Spoken word artists use repetition often because it can boost the entertainment value of their poem. Printed poems also benefit when parts are repeated. Your main idea is the what you repeat. If one word makes your point, repeat it. If a phrase or sentence is needed, repeat that.  When you do, your audience will recognize something familiar that you gave them before and it sinks in a little deeper. Even if people don’t remember you name, they will remember your poem. Some may even repeat parts of it back to you.

You can be creative when repeating a section of your poem. Repeating something exactly the same way two or three times can become boring. If you are repeating a stanza, you can reword it or rearrange the phrases. You can even rewrite a phrase in the section. Your audience will notice what is different if you change one small thing each time you repeat it.

The best example of this that I can find is Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” where there is lots of repetition and most repeated parts are different as the story goes on.

Although it might take me a long time to count Dr. Seuss' repetitions, repeating an idea three or four times should be enough for most poems. Be careful not to repeat too much. At one of the first poetry readings I ever attended, a poet read a poem that mentioned a "cup" at least 30 times, with symbolism as the poetic device. At the end of the 2-minute poem, I felt as though I had been beaten over the head with this simple household item.

Haiku is the only kind of poem that I don't like to write repeated words. That doesn't mean you can't do it. I have read some wonderful haiku where a word was repeated. It is just something I prefer not to do. My philosophy is, if I am working with 17 syllables (or less), I need to use each one as efficiently as possible. Besides, the poem is too short for anyone to forget the first time I used the word.

PROMPT: Think of something that you have been waiting for. It can be an event, like a birthday or starting a new school (or job) or a move to another part of the country. Maybe a family member is far away and you are waiting for them to come home. Or, it could be an object, like a new book, or a toy. Maybe, you are getting tired of waiting for whatever it is. Use repetition to write the poem that will make this happen sooner.

For this poem, you will need to use stanzas. You know your main idea. Decide whether you will repeat one word, a phrase, sentence or stanza.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Re-read a picture book that your child(ren) may have outgrown, one you haven't read in a long time. Try to choose one that doesn't have lots of words or rhymes. Talk about the story. Ask what happens more than one time in the book, if anything. Work with your child(ren) to make a poem based on their favorite page or favorite part of the book. Invite them to add something new with their poem that is not already in the book.


KidPoWriMo Day 11 ~ Mixing it up

Congratulations! The month is one third of the way finished!

With apologies for the delay in posting the 11th prompt, I am working to catch up.

Today is when we pause for a moment and remember what we have covered so far this month. If you like one of the lessons more than another, that is OK. You may like working with iambs more than writing haiku. If so, then write using iambs in most of your poems. If simile’ makes you smile but you don’t have time for rhyme, use more simile’ and don’t let anyone stop you.

You may have noticed that the prompts I have posted have not been very specific. I have not asked you to write about a particular thing that I choose, like “apple pie” or a “purple pillow”. Although everyone reading this may have seen these things and knows what they are, some of you might not be as inspired as I think you’d be if I gave you a specific prompt. What I have tried to do is to get you to think of things that inspire you and let you write about them.

[Think about this: if I did give a prompt to write about a purple pillow, and your teachers and parents and other poets were reading the posted poems, we would have so many poems about purple pillows, the internet would be overdecorated!]

Whether you are using the prompts found here or writing your own poem each day, you have freedom of choice. This is true even when there is no #KidPoWriMo.

Poetic word of the day: art (click here to read the definition on the Bing Dictionary)

Poetry is art created with words. But, the things poets write about are not always beautiful. Still with our words, we draw attention to the things we choose as topics for our poetry, and we do so in an artistic way.

Have you ever just talked to someone about something that is important to you? When someone writes a poem about an important topic and shares it, people are more likely to pay close attention to what they say, especially because they took time and effort to write the poem in the first place.

You can mix two, three or four (or more) of the prompts so far. But, if another poet chose the same prompts, the poems you write would still be very different. The prompts I am offering here leave lots of room for you to use your own creativity and express your individuality.

PROMPT: Below is a list of possible mix-ups (or mash-ups). Pick one of them and use it to write your poem.

– rhyming, ode containing simile’ ~ the ode can be to something you found or got while on summer vacation

– 5-7-5 haiku, written backwards that includes personification ~ write the whole haiku backwards starting with the last word of the last line

– 6-word haiku that uses iambs that includes alliteration ~ it is OK if all six words do not begin with the same letter – see how many you can make fit into your haiku

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Combining alliteration,  iambs and word cards, have your child(ren) pick a letter and write down some left-foot iambs that are nouns and that begin with that letter. Pick another letter and do the same thing, but with adjectives. Each card should have two syllables (either one two-syllable word or two one-syllable words).

Use the whisper-shout technique to make sure they are left foot iambs. Build a stack of 20 words (10 nouns and 10 adjectives in separate piles). Pick one card from the middle of each stack. Read the adjective card and then the noun card. Write more iamb cards as you think of more words.

Once you have four combinations you like, copy them onto paper and think of verbs and adverbs (and other parts of speech) you can add. If your younger child(ren) do not know about the parts of speech yet, help them think of words that make their cards into a sentence, even if the words are not iambs.

The randomness of combining iambs written on cards and the fact that you and your child(ren) can pick pairs you like, will help you begin a poem that you will feel proud to have written with your kids.

NOTE: Rhyme, Iamb, 5-7-5 haiku, Ode, writing backwards, alliteration, spoken word, simile’, personification, four-line stanza and six-word haiku are some of the topic covered on the first 10 days of KidPoWriMo.


KidPoWriMo Day 6 ~ Spoken Word Saturday

It’s Saturday and it’s still the weekend. Let’s have some more fun!

Before the internet, we had television. Before that, there was radio. Before that, the only way you could see a live show was to go sit in an auditorium with performers on stage.

Long ago, poetry was communicated on paper. People would buy or borrow books, then recite the poetry they contained for family and friends. Unless a poet happened to be visiting a town or city nearby, the only way to hear his (or her) poems was for someone else to read them.

Today, a poet can read an original poem in front of a video camera and someone halfway around the world can see it within seconds after it is uploaded. Yesterday’s Day 5 post “Writing Backwards” was seen by someone in South Africa who “liked” it. He and I chatted back-and-forth late into the night (Washington DC time); in his time zone, I am pretty sure it was closer to really early in the morning.

Poetic phrase of the day:slam poetry” (click here to read the definition on

Because I have competed in and hosted poetry slams, I have had to explain to many people what a slam is. You might think of slam as what somebody does to a door when they are angry. Putting a word that sounds so violent next to a quiet, gentle word like poetry can be confusing to those who have never heard those two words together before.

In my own words: a slam is a poetry show where poets compete against one another by performing their spoken-words.

You can learn a lot by watching other people perform their spoken-words, so, watch this video before reading the prompt below. It features kids who are learning to write spoken-word. Only parts of each poem are presented in this video.

While watching, what stood out to you? Did you notice that many of the poets were not reading from a piece of paper? That’s because they practice their poems so they can recite them from memory. Most of the poets were speaking quickly and projecting their voices. You may remember that one girl talked about how the poets used rhyme in the video she watched.

PROMPT: Write a spoken word poem that takes between one to two minutes to read. A poem that fills up one typed page will take about a minute to read. If you practice it and read it quickly, the time will be shorter. Pick a topic that is important to you and write as if your words have to make it important to everyone else.  Use the tools from days 1 through 5. When you are finished writing, time yourself reading your poem and practice it until you can remember it.

Spoken-word poetry is one of the most entertaining kinds of poetry. It is also very flexible in the choice of styles you can use to make your poem. People add all sorts of extras, like props, sound effects, costumes when they present their poem to an audience to make it more entertaining. These are things that people cannot get when reading the same poem from a book. Do your best to write your best poem before adding special, extra things. A good poem will be appreciated, even if all you do is read it.

Free-style is one way of presenting poetry where a poet rhymes in the moment off the top of his head. There is no paper and the poem did not exist before the poet stood before an audience. I am amazed when people do this. Free-style doesn’t mean that the poet never writes anything on paper, in fact, they probably write so much that the words are ready to come out whenever and however the poet wants. When I see someone perform free-style, I think it is awesome. Still, I feel sad if the performance is not written down or recorded anywhere so it can be repeated for others to see, hear or read. So, I encourage you to write everything on paper if you want to keep it.

FOR PARENTS WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN: Have a poetry night in your living room. Have your child practice in advance to remember a favorite poem or portion of a picture book by heart. If they have written or dictated an original poem to you, include it in your event. Ask them what kinds of gestures they can use while performing. After each performance, snap your fingers instead of clapping your hands. Select some spoken word videos from YouTube you deem appropriate for your family to watch together after your living room slam.