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 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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