Saturday, April 14, 2012

Poetry Forms for Kids + Other Curious Folk

One of the library branches we frequent had a nice display of poetry books in the children's room. Of course I grabbed several of them, including A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka. We all pretty much learn about sonnets and maybe odes in high school, and haiku and limericks in elementary school, and acrostic poems are pretty popular in the lower grades, too. But there are so many more! In between college degrees, I took some writing classes at a local adult learning center, where I had a fabulous instructor who taught me more about poetry than I'd learned in all of my schooling thus far. I learned about villanelles and pantoums in addition to sonnets and odes...and every form we encountered, we had to write one of our own.

I very much appreciated this thorough grounding in poetry types when I began my English degree. I also like the discipline required to try to write a poem with a strict form. Were my attempts great poetry? Um, no, I'm sure they were not. But attempting to take a thought, idea, or image, and fit it into a pre-set form...it's good practice. It requires really thinking and distilling and I think that's valuable, even if the result is never shared (as I won't be sharing that pantoum I wrote circa 1996).

This book is a good introduction to poetic forms for kids and adults, too. Each form includes at least one example, a fun illustration, and a short, to-the-point definition at the bottom of the page. At the end of the book, you'll find longer explanations of each form. Some of them were new to me, such as the triolet, which has a specific rhyme scheme (abaaabab) and repeating lines: 1, 4, and 7 are the same, and 2 and 8 are the same. The poem I'm sharing today, which is from A Kick in the Head, is a triolet.

The Cow's Complaint
by Alice Schertle

How unkind to keep me here
When, over there, the grass is greener.
Tender blades--so far, so near--
How unkind to keep me here!
Through this fence they make me peer
At sweeter stems; what could be meaner?
How unkind to keep me here
When, over there, the grass is greener.

5 comments:

iamrushmore said...

I understand the appeal of conforming words to a prescribed form. reading this makes me want to write a triolet, just for the challenge. sounds like a great book - love chris raschka. wonder if my library has it...? think I'll check.

Rose Red said...

I think that writing a triolet would be very hard
Having to ensure the lines repeat.
I think that writing a trioet would be very hard
You would need a very simple subject
Like a cow's complaint, how cool.
And to to make it rhyme as well! A step too far.
I think that wiring a triolet would be very hard
Having to ensure the lines repeat.

amy said...

Rose Red! You rock!!!

teabird said...

This looks like a great book - it's on my gifts for children list now... and yes, Rose Red, you do rock!!

Bells said...

That poem is great but RoseRed's response is awesome!