KidPoWriMo Day 19 ~ Love Poems

With so many love poems in the world and more being written everyday, I would never say that I am an expert at writing them. I can only share my own experiences writing them. Specifically, my experience is with writing wedding poems. When my friends get engaged, I am usually asked to write a poem for the wedding. One person, I did not know once asked me to write her wedding poem. When I found out who she was, a multiple best-selling author, I was blown away! I enjoyed the whole experience very much, from interviewing the author-bride, to writing the poem and then reciting it at the wedding.

Love poems can be about a love between people, but it doesn’t have to be about people who are getting married. It can be about mother and child, brother and sister, friends, even someone you admire from far away, like a favorite movie star, singer or celebrity. If you have a pet, a hobby or a special place you love to visit, almost anything can be the topic of a love poem. Many poets have written “un-love” poems about things they don’t love.

If your love poem is not coming from your imagination or personal experience, you may need to find out more information about your subjects. When I write wedding poems, I interview the bride and groom, if possible. I use key phrases and details from the interview in the poem. Historical information from before the couple met is often helpful. Sometimes, I get an impression from how they say what they say, and often from some of the things they don’t say.

Poetic word of the day: “couplet” (click here to read the definition of couplet on YourDictionary.com)

Couplets are lines of about the same length that have a similar rhythm and often rhyme. I especially enjoy writing couplets in my love or wedding poems. Iambic pentameter is a good tool to use to give the lines in your couplets a matching rhythm.

PROMPT: Write a love poem about your love or someone else’s love; use couplets. If writing for someone else, consider giving the finished poem as a gift to them.

My personal example:

Hugs and a snack pack were waiting at three. 

That’s how my mother showed me she loved me.

Homework together and reading at four.

We played outside til dad came through the door.

These are my two couplets to start my poem. They’re not perfect iambic pentameter, but they are a start. I can edit them later if I like.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Younger children might do well to write a love poem for a favorite toy or other item. Let your child(ren) talk about why they love what they love. Encourage them to find rhyming words and to use a poetic device. Have them finish a sentence: “You love Teddy because… ______.” When you play with Teddy, _________.” Write down the answers.

I offer this post commemorating what would have been the 60th anniversary of  my parent’s marriage on July 19th.

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KidPoWriMo Day 18 ~ Template Poem

I knew my birthday week would be a challenge as I tried to balance KidPoWriMo with the additional things added to my week.

Still, I am moving forward.

One way of getting started with writing a new poem is to use another poem as a template. It can be any poem. If you pick a poem you like, you will probably enjoy taking it apart and putting a new poem together as you look at each piece. If you pick a poem you don’t like, you are likely to improve it when you use it to create a new poem.

Poetic word of the day: “template” (click here to read the definition on Word Central)

I learned about template poems from a poet who was a guest at my poetry event. She explained it like this: “Take each word of the poem and substitute it for another word by its part of speech.” Where you read a noun, replace it with another noun. Do the same thing for adjectives, verbs, prepositions, adverbs, pronouns, etc.

Once you have finished substituting words, you will have a completely new and original poem. But, it may need more work. Poetic devices that worked in the first poem might be lost as you create the second poem. Sometimes, a poet may be so inspired by one line of template writing, an idea will take the poem in a different direction away from the template poem. If so, go with it. The template exercise works if you only re-write a line or two or if you revise the whole poem.

My  cousin once asked me for a birthday poem. I chose “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou as my template. I did not go word for word throughout the poem, but I used the same pattern of phrases. When I needed to write more, I just repeated a pattern. When a part of the poem did not fit what I was doing, I didn’t use it. The finished poem was about my cousin (a man) and it was funny (especially since he is known to be rather serious most of the time)!

PROMPT: Write a template poem using part or all of a poem found on-line. Build a word list as you write.

Let us start one together:

Read Emily Dickinson’s poem: “Hope is the thing with feathers” on PoemHunter.com.

The first line is the title of the poem. The first word is a noun and it can be substituted with many other words: “fear, love, hate, anger, cheer, kindness, vision, etc.” The next word is a verb. I could use the phrase “is a thing” again, but I really want to choose other words: “has, gives, takes, moves, claims, burns, builds, adds, etc.” The article “the” can be replaced with “a” or “an” if I must replace it, and I believe I must. The next word is another noun, “sickness, burden, place, duty, song, pebble, etc. The next word is a preposition which I will replace “with”: “for, to, above, etc.” Finally the line ends with another noun: “medicine, cowards, fish, houseplants, horses, daylight, water, ground.”

Using the words I listed so far, I can create dozens of lines from the template. Not all combinations will make sense. Here are a few:

1. Fear burns a place for cowards.

2. Hate takes a sickness to medicine.

3. Love moves a burden above ground.

All have poetic potential. And I am inspired to create a complete poem from them. I could go on and write templates of more of the poem or write on my own from one of the lines I just pieced together.

Now that you have started, go ahead and finish your poem in a way you prefer.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Try substituting a couple of words from your child’s favorite nursery rhyme. “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” might become “Sprinkle, sprinkle, happy cake” or “Sparkle, sparkle dancing ______” (you fill in the blank). As you go to each word, ask your child(ren) to come up with a replacement in context. When you are substituting a verb, ask a question like this: “What else would the little star do?”  When substituting an adjective, ask “What kind of…” or “What color ____ is it?”. If your child(ren) get inspired and imagination takes you away from the template, let it happen.

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KidPoWriMo Day 14 ~ Iambic Pentameter

Get your iambs and feet ready. We are putting them together again to make pentameter.

That sounds like something that’s hard to do. It just sounds hard. Pentameter is easy.

And since we worked with iambs that were stressed on the even numbered  syllables the last time we discussed iambs, we will switch it this time.

We will put the stresses on the odd numbered syllables this time. And we will combine words with more than two syllables to create iambic phrases and sentences.

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

When you hear the word “pentameter”, does it make you think of a number? There is a famous government building that has a name that begins the same way.

If you know the name of this building, you probably can tell me what is different about it (see below)

Back to making pentameter. When we started with iambs, we put three feet together. We returned and put four together. Pentameter happens when we put five iambs (or feet) together.

QUICK MATH QUESTION: If an iamb contains two syllables, and we are putting five of them together, how many syllables will be in one line of pentameter? (see below for the answer)

I do not always write backwards when creating pentameter, I piece together words or phrases of 2, 3 or 4 syllables. Sometimes I start from the middle and add words before and after.

Here is a list of words that have 3 syllables. You can test big words using whisper-shout. First, whisper the first syllable, shout the second and whisper the third. Then reverse it. Shout the first, whisper the second and shout the third. Which way seems right? Test yourself using these words:

acrobat

believer

cucumber

decipher

envelope

fanatic

gigantic

helium

idea

Depending on where you place a word in your line, it can support a right or left-foot iambic sentence. As I build my iambic lines, I keep track of the number of syllables as my line grows. For example (using the words above):

double-jointed acrobat (7)

He thinks I am a true believer (9)

cucumber salad (5)

an opened envelope (6)

my crazy rock fanatic (7)

helium baloon (5)

bright idea (4)

All of these phrases have alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.

The lines for today’s prompt will begin with a stressed syllable.

PROMPT: Make a word list of three syllable words. Put at least 20 words on your list. Underline or highlight the stressed syllables. Put each word into a phrase that is iambic (stressed syllables separated by unstressed syllables). Write a poem, based on your favorite or best practice phrase, that has 8 lines where each is written in iambic pentameter (10 syllables). You may rhyme if you like.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Help your child(ren) make a word list of 3 syllable words. Take each word and ask them to put a word before each word or after. Write down those phrases and ask them to do it again. Count the syllables and check where the stresses are in each phrase using whisper-shout. Make at least one iambic pentameter line. With parents helping, I would not ask younger children to work on much more than one or two lines.

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*The Pentagon is named for the geometric shape of the same name. It has 5 sides.

MATH QUESTION ANSWER: Two syllables per iamb times five iambs to make pentameter equals ten syllables per line of pentameter.  2 x 5 = 10

WORD LIST WITH STRESSED SYLLABLES IN UPPERCASE LETTERS:

ACroBAT

beLIEVer

CUcumber

deCIpher

ENveLOPE

fanATic

giGANtic

HEliUM

idEa

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.

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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.

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KidPoWriMo Day 10 ~ Haiku Part 2

When you think about poetry, what comes to your mind?

Poems can be small, like haiku, or smaller. Have you ever heard of a one word poem? I remember one that made the news because it won a contest and was only one word in length (and that one word was misspelled). Some poems may have a few dozen words, or a handful of stanzas. Epic poems can be larger than chapter books or novels.

I think of an epic poem like a blockbuster movie. Spoken word poems that take up a few pages, I think of as television shows. Sonnets, pantoums and other poems that fit on one page are like a music video. And haiku are like a snap shot or photograph. Comparing them to another genre of art helps me when choosing how much detail I want to add to my poems.

One third of the way through the month, we have lots of tools we can combine to write hundreds of poems. And there is so much more we can add to our poetic tool chest.

On Day 3, we learned about 17 syllable haiku, the one that has 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the middle line and 5 in the final line. With respect to the poets who prefer to write haiku that is smaller than 17 syllables, I decided that we would take some time to do that, too.

When writing a poem that must be a certain number of syllables, we sometimes have to add words that may be unnecessary or remove words that we thought were important to the message we want in our poem. When writing smaller haiku poems, a poet can make a message without worrying about counting syllables. No extra words have to be added and no important words need to be taken away.

Poetic word of the day: “succinct” (Click here to read the definition on YourDictionary.com)

Haiku, loosely defined, is a small poem. The #haiku hashtag is very popular on Twitter. Another popular hashtag is #sixwords. People use it to write poems, stories, sayings or whatever they like.

PROMPT: Write a 6-word poem / haiku. Put two words in each of 3 lines. As a story has a beginning, middle and ending, give your poem a beginning, middle and end. After the reader finishes reading the first two lines, they may think they know where the poem is going, but you may surprise them with the last word.

I will use  an example from my own daily haiku project:

Haiku #150 (May 21)

green thumb
long weekend
container garden

by Cheryl Crockett

Notice, small words, such as “a”, “the”, “if”, “is”, are missing from this poem. Still, my message is clear.

PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: One at a time, have your child(ren) say a word that comes to mind, a noun. Then have everyone else add a word. They do not have to be favorite words. Go around the room a few times. Add adjectives to the nouns, using a different color ink or crayon. Instead of writing the words on a piece of paper or in a notebook, an older person can write them on 3 x 5 cards.  Put the cards on the side of the table, a pile near each person. Have each person put one word in the center of the table and read the word pairs you see. If anyone likes a word pair, leave those two words in the center of the table and take away the other word cards. Say and write more words to complete a six word haiku. Do this again and again. This is not a game where someone wins and someone else loses. It is an activity where everyone works together to make a poem. Save the cards you make for future poetry activities.

KidPoWriMo Day 1 ~ Words Are My Toys

FAVORITE WORDS & RHYME

Ever since I learned to read and write, I have played with words. From the first day I learned about poetry, I wanted to write my own. I have been writing poems ever since that time.

To have the most fun with something used for play, you learn everything about it. Just like you would know the secret places to earn extra points in your favorite video game, or whether the doors on your toy car open/close, or how a doll’s arms and legs move, if words are your toys, you know a lot about them. If you know how to pronounce a word, you can rhyme it with another word. If you know a word’s part of speech, you know how to use it in a phrase or sentence. And if you know that a word has more than one meaning, you can play with it using either or both of the definitions.

Words are like the jigsaw puzzle pieces the poet puts together to make poetry. And just like the finished puzzle is a picture, your finished poem will make an image appear in the minds of those who read your poem. You may use any word you want in a poem. And you can create new words and give them meaning through your poem.

Poetic Word of the Day: “RHYME” (click here for the definition on Dictionary.com)

Rhyme is one of the most popular tools a poet uses. Most children’s books have rhyme on every page. Lyrics to most popular songs, from Country to Rap to Pop and Rock, contain rhyme.

PROMPT: Think of your favorite word and write a poem about it (or that contains it). Use rhyme at the end of the phrases in your poem. You may rhyme two or three lines with the same sound at a time and then use another sound for the next two or three lines. Your poem should be at least four lines long.

If you are new to rhyming, vowel sounds are often easiest to rhyme:

“E”: me, see, tree, plea, clearly, disagree, ordinary…

“O”: no, glow, snow, dough, throw, rainbow, below, regrow…

“A”: day, say, may, clay, hey, re-play, portray…

“I”: hi, pie, lie, die, cry, dry, try, high, reply…

“U”: do, new, blue, stew, clue, untrue, achoo…

You can find a rhyming dictionary at your local public library. You can use it to look up a word and all those that rhyme with it. You may discover rhyming tools on-line, also.

PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: If your child(ren) cannot yet read or write by themselves, when you have story time, point out the rhyming words on some of the pages of the book. See if you and your child(ren) can think of other words that rhyme with those you read. Some kids may want to finish the book first. Others won’t mind thinking of rhyming words before you turn the page.

I have made words my toys. I look forward to seeing how you play with them.

Thanks for coming to play with your favorite words and rhyme on Day 1!

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