You can read more at Wikipedia and learn a bit about the history of this form.
Here is your word list.
I'm quite fond of haiku, though I find it hard to write well. (Actually, I find many forms difficult to master!) When thinking of writing haiku I often return to J. Patrick Lewis' book Black Swan/White Crow, illustrated by Christopher Manson. In the introduction, Lewis describes the form and encourages readers to write their own haiku.
To write a haiku, you might go for a walk in a city park, a meadow, the zoo. Put all your senses on full alert. Watch. Listen. Imagine that what you are seeing or smelling or hearing has never been seen, smelled, or heard before--and may never be again. Now take a picture of it--but only with your words.
The best haiku make you think and wonder for a longer than it takes to say them. I've always loved that last line.
Here's one of the haiku from the book I still think about, especially when I'm at the beach.
Some folks are already back at school (myself included), but many begin in earnest tomorrow. After a bit of back-to-school shopping yesterday and some (I'm not too proud to say it) salivating over the shiny new items in the office supply aisle, I can't stop thinking about about my obsession for school supplies.
One of my favorite poems about a school supply item is this one by Daniel J. Langton.
by Daniel J. Langton
I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.
Read the poem in its entirety.
In a speech given at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. asked students "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?". In this speech he said the following about work.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.With Labor Day just one week away, I thought this would be a good time to celebrate those who work day in and day out, without fanfare, without accolades, and often, without notice. I'd like to celebrate those who do the jobs that few of us are inclined to do. I can't imagine where we would be without them.
The lune is a haiku variation invented and named by poet Robert Kelly. The lune, so called because of how the right edge is bowed like a crescent moon, is a thirteen syllable form arranged in three lines of 5 / 3/ 5 respectively.You can try your hand at writing an instant lune or read some examples by Robert Kelly here.
(Adapted from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
Lune #1So, do you want to play? What kind of lunes will you write? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.
wings beating, whirring
you float there
sipping sweet nectar
Can you guess what I was watching when I wrote this?
toward pencils, books, desks
I suppose none of us can escape this one. I, for one, can't wait!
It will be in the nineties today, but I'll be keeping cool writing snowball poetry. Here's an introduction.
do you enjoy
does word play
are you confused?
This is a snowball,
A poetic form which
was created by those
who group themselves
with the name of Oulipo.
Every line contains one
Additional letter. U like?
Tanka, meaning ‘short song’, is a 1300 year old Japanese form of lyric poetry. Non-rhyming, it is composed in Japanese in five phrases of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.
In English, tanka are normally written in five lines, also without (contrived) rhyme, but in a flexible short/long/short/long/long rhythm. Due to dissimilarities between the two languages, it is preferable not to apply the thirty-one syllable standard of the Japanese poems, to tanka in English. Around twenty-one plus/minus syllables in English produces an approximate equivalent of the essentially fragmentary tanka form, and its lightness. To achieve a “perfect twenty-one”, one could write five lines in 3/5/3/5/5 syllables. If the resulting tanka sounds natural, then that’s fine. However, the syllable counting does not need to be so rigid. Though no line should be longer than seven syllables, and one should try to maintain the short/long/short/long/long rhythm, variations such as 2/4/3/5/5 or 4/6/3/6/7 or 3/6/4/5/6 syllable patterns can all make good tanka.
Was a magical plotter
At Hogwarts he became a master
After many a goof and disaster.
Hay(na)ku is a 3-line poem of six words with one word in the first line, two words in the second, and three in the third. There are no other rules and no restrictions on number of syllables or rhyme.
More ancient than haiku, the Korean SIJO shares a common ancestry with haiku, tanka and similar Japanese genres. All evolved from more ancient Chinese patterns.
Sijo is traditionally composed in three lines of 14-16 syllables each, totaling between 44-46 syllables. A pause breaks each line approximately in the middle; it resembles a caesura but is not based on metrics.
Lightning jerks the sky awake to take her photograph, flash!
Which draws grumbling complaints or even crashing tantrums from thunder--
He hates having his picture taken, so he always gets there late.
Three line poems should contain about 14 to 16 syllables per line. Six line poems should contain 7 or 8 syllables per line.
The first line should contain a single image or idea. The second line should develop this further. The last line should contain the twist.
For your viewing pleasure ...
Terza rima is a tumbling, interlocking rhyme scheme that was invented by the thirteenth-century Italian poet Dante for the creation of his long poem, The Divine Comedy.
Terza rima (an Italian phrase meaning "third rhyme") consists of a series of three-line stanzas (tercets) with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc ded and so on. It can go on as long as the poet wishes. At the end of the poem an extra line is often added to complete the structure: yzy z.
Acquainted with the Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I could list all the reasons why I've been absent, but thought a poem would be better.
Why Poems (and Blog Posts) Aren't Written
The end of school
beginning of summer
laundry needs folding
house needs cleaning
mind and body never in the same place at the same time
pens out of ink
pencil points broken
inspiration flown the coop
In all honesty, my mom was in the hospital for three months and the travel and worry made it really hard to be present anywhere. She's home now with 24-hour nursing care and a plan in place that says there will be no more hospital visits. I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my heart and mind around what that means.
In the meantime, I'm teaching summer school and getting on with the business of life. I'm sorry I haven't been here. I have missed you and missed blogging. I hope you'll join me this week and write a list poem. I'm going to keep going and see if I can't write something a bit more inspirational.
This in one of my favorite May Swenson poems.
by May Swenson
0 A mouth. Can blow or breathe,
be a funnel, or Hello.
1 A grass blade or cut.
2 A question seated. And a proud
3 Shallow mitten for a two-fingered hand.
4 Three-cornered hut
on one stilt. Sometimes built
so the roof gapes.Read the poem in its entirety.
Rhopalic Verse: (from Greek "rhopalon"--a club which is thicker at one end)
Lines in which each successive word has one syllable more than the one before it.
Small spiders filigree
the garden greenery
with silken precision. Delicately, definitively,
they network tapestries
than morning's glorious
Poem ©Avis Harley. All rights reserved.
Mother's Day - 2nd Sunday
Memorial Day - 4th Monday
The name for May haas a mixed history. Some say it stems from Maia, the goddess of growth, while others maintain the month was named to pay tribute to the Majores, or Maiores, the older branch of the Roman Senate. The number of days has varied from twenty-two to thirty to today's thirty-one.
Weather Report - On May 17, 1979, the temperature dipped to 12 degrees at the Mauna Kea Observatory, establishing an all-time record low for Hawaii.
May 17, 2000:
Sue, a dinosaur, is exhibited in Chicago, Illinois
In South Dakota in 1990 Sue Hendrickson discovered bone fossils that later were assembled into the largest, most complete skeleton ever found of the Tyrannosaurus rex, a dinosaur that lived more than 67 million years ago.
In 1997, at an auction, the Field Museum of Chicago, Illinois, offered the highest price for the bones, more than $8 million.
After three years of laboriously putting Sue back together, she went on exhibit in the Field Museum.
Once upon a garden rotten,When the temperature rises, all manner of oddhoppers (bees, beetles, crickets, fleas, etc.) come out of the woodwork! There's a beetle on his back (kicking to right himself), a snake in the grass, katydids, a walking stick, stinkbug and, more. Here's one that always makes me smile and makes listeners wrinkle their noses in delight.
Twice forlorn and half forgotten . . .
Drip--drip--cold and wet.
Winter isn't over yet.
Always dripping, never stopping.
Drip--drip--sound of thunder
Wakes a weevil way down under.
Wait for spring. Go back to sleep.
Bugs are digging--scoop it out.The rhythm of the text, the cadence that propels you forward, the hidden jokes in the illustrations--all artfully combine to make this one thoroughly enjoyable book. Perhaps most of all I like that Oddhopper Opera is a handsome invitation for young readers to explore the world of the garden and its inhabitants on their own time, while getting down and dirty with some real live bugs.
Move it, boys, let's hack it out!
Front feet, back feet, scrape it out.
Dig we must.
Excuse our dust.
Black muck, brown muck, mix it up.
Watch it, boys, it's breaking up!
Punch it! Pat it! Patch it up!
Bless my soul--
It's time to roll.
Dung balls rolling--move 'em out!
When I Grow Up
In the still chill of a winter night
seeds on the gardener's bench
rattle their packets
"When I grow up,
I'm going to be . . . "
"The biggest watermelon."
"A rutabaga round as the world."
"An everywhere zucchini vine."
"Cornstalk so tall I touch the sky."
with big plans,
except for one,
not a murmur from his packet.
Hey, little seed,
what about you?
What will you be
when you grow up?
In the still chill of the winter night:
"I'm going to be FIRST!"
And the radish is right.
Poem © Juanita Havill. All rights reserved.
Plant seeds early in the spring
when the ground is warm,
two inches deep in well-tilled soil
where they'll be safe from harm.
Let the sun and rain pour down.
Be careful where you hoe.
A miracle is taking place:
Seeds split and start to grow.
Poem © Juanita Havill. All rights reserved.
She does things:
even the quiet things
like sitting still
and staring at frost
on the window in winter
or counting cricket chirps
when the summer sun sets (p. 13)
Once he asked Berneetha
how a whole plant
can sprout and grow and flower
all from a sliver of seed.
What was it
in that seed
that made it grow
in the dirt
and bloom yellow, white,
purple, orange, maroon,
like a conjure man had spoken
a spell over it?
we all start as seeds--
each of us different,
each of us beautiful. (pp. 58-59)
Poems © Juanita Havill. All rights reserved.
on the garden.
my baby brother.
the last of
a last bouquet
Aunt Sissy and I
take one last
to places we have
Poem © Eileen Spinelli. All rights reserved.
The Class I Hate
don't wanna shoot a basket,
or join a baseball team,
or walk the balance beam.
Would I care to climb a rope,
run, or tumble? One word: nope!
I don't even like to swim.
Guess what class I hate.
The Class I Love
Hickory, dickory, dock,
hurry up, hurry up, clock!
I want the time to pass
so I can get to class.
Here's the crazy thing:
I can cha-cha, rumba, swing,
do merengue, salsa, too.
There's no dance that I can't do.
Yes, I know what I once said.
But now I love, love, LOVE Phys. Ed.!
Poems ©Marilyn Singer. All rights reserved.
My teacher, Miss Mays, said,From the very beginning, the heart, the dreams, and yearning of people longing to be educated comes through. As told by Ovella, a young girl in the community, we meet dedicated people who put their blood and sweat into backbreaking work that doesn't earn a decent living, and then see them spend that money for the good of the community. We see families and communities at work, at home and church, coming together for the common good. You see, Rosenwald schools were only partially funded through grants from the rural school building program. The balance came from the community. This meant that hard-working, poor folks needed to raise money, acquire land and build that school. The poem New School Rally ends with these words.
You can't judge a school
by the building. When the roof leaks,
she calls us vessels of learning.
When the floor creaks, she says
knowledge is a solid foundation.
Everyone in church stood, clapping.How indeed? In the poem Taking Root, we learn that the church gives an acre of land for the new school. In the poems Box Party and Passing the Plate, we learn about the ways in which people worked and sacrificed to raise money. Finally, the seeds of hope begin to grow, as Blueprints for the school are presented. Soon building materials are acquired, a roof is raised, second-hand materials arrive, a playground is built, and a school is born. Every time I read this book, I'm all choked up by the time I get to 1922: White Oak School. It begins this way.
How on earth will poor people
find money to give away?
Uncle Bo cut the ribbon at the doorwayThe poem that lends its title to the book is the final piece. Ovella completes her first lesson, writing a letter to the man who helped make this new school a reality.
and we marched into the new school,
proud as can be. The place sparkled.
HomeworkThis is an entertaining collection of poems with many gems that are sure to please students.
by Russell Hoban
Homework sits on top of Sunday, squashing Sunday flat.
Homework has the smell of Monday, homework's very fat.
Heave books and piles of paper, answers I don't know.
Sunday evening's almost finished, now I'm going to go
Homework! Oh, Homework!
by Jack Prelutsky
Homework! Oh, Homework!
I hate you! You stink!
I wish I could wash you
away in the sink,
if only a bomb
would explode you to bits.
Homework! Oh, Homework!
You're giving me fits.
by Jane Yolen
What is it about homework
That makes me want to write
My Great Aunt Myrt to thank her for
The sweater that's too tight?
by Barbara Juster Esbensen
It rustles it
shifts with no wind
in the room to
the blank white
needs your attention.
I'm one quiet fox.
My desk is my den,
with quizzes, smooth rocks, and
a note from a friend.
I tuck deep inside
the hollowed-out wood
to make me feel safe when I'm
Poem ©Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.
Monkey BarsPoems © Kalli Dakos. All rights reserved.
and upside down,
Back and forth,
And all around,
are making monkey sounds!
Schools Get Hungry Too
I'd like a bowl
Of ruler stew,
A pencil sandwich,
And some glue.
Some purple paint,
I'd like to drink,
And for dessert,
A classroom sink.
Man, sonnets are hard: countingShakespeare Bats Cleanup, written by Ron Koertge, is an emotional story told through poems laced with humor, angst, love, loss and of course, baseball. What's a boy to do when he's told he's sick and can't play the sport he loves? His father, who is a writer, hands him a marble composition notebook and and says, "You're gonna have a lot of time on your/hands. Maybe you'll feel like writing/something down."
syllables in every line, trolling
for rhymes (p.16).
I said I wouldn't write anymore,
but I take that back.
When I got sick, I missed baseball.
When I got well, I missed writing (p. 56).
I'm still trying to slip in some inside
rhyme, just a few things that chime
a little but don't go bong, bong, bong
at the end of every line (p. 61).
I've got this pitcher figured out: slider,
fastball, curve. Slider, fastball, curve.
Like meter in a bad poem--no surprises (p. 113).
(Excerpts from Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge.)
It feels weird smuggling something aboutAs Kevin recovers from mono he writes about the death of his mother, girls, baseball, the past, and the struggles of a typical teenager. The poems take a variety of forms, including sonnet, couplet, free verse, elegy, pastoral, pantoum, and more.
poetry up to my room like it's the new
Penthouse (p. 5).
I love my thesaurus. I like
to think about all the words
in there, cuddling up together
or arguing. Montagues on
one side, Capulets on the other.
Synonyms and antonyms (p. 4).
He calls rhyme a benevolent bully because it'll make a poet
look hard for the right word and then maybe he finds
an even better one (p. 11)!
Sadness is a big dark bus
with a schedule all its own.
But when it pulls up and the door
opens with a hiss, you pretty much
have to get on (p.25).
The sestina is almost impossible. I tried one once
and after a couple of stanzas threw myself onto
the nearest chaise and wept. Copiously (p. 80).
Fielder's MittIf you are interested in connecting this book to writing, you can download an activity sheet that encourages kids to write their own book of sports poetry.
On my shelf my mitt,
stiff from winter's bench-
waits for spring,
for mud-scuffed balls
slapping past, taunting
"Catch me if you can!"
that thaws my mitt
for a chase
through any mud-warmed
in suddenly spring.
Poem ©Gene Fehler. All rights reserved.
What is that draws poets to birds? And why have so many turned to them at critical points in their own writing? The collective nouns we all remember from childhood speak of language's innate fascination with all things avian: a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a parliament of fowls. And it's no coincidence we afford them the most poetic collective nouns: right from the birth of literature birds have been present.
A spark, a glint,What follows are poems that describe the dive-bombing of the family by a bird very determined to protect it's territory, nest building, egg hatching, nestling care and growth, flight practice and the inevitable empty nest. Poems are written from the perspective of the observer, as well as the disgruntled dog and cat. ("I'm a prisoner--because of a bird. How absurd.") Visite George's web site to read another poem from the book. You can also listen to her read a few of the poems.
of pixie tidbit.
Bright flits, brisk zips,
a green-gray blur,
wings, zings, and whirr--
I just heard
a humming of bird.
One of the earliest birds to appear in the spring, the eastern bluebird is often thought of as the harbinger of the season. Its son, truly, truly, is a soft, garbled series of notes typically sung while flying or feeding. Since groups of bluebirds often rest on power lines that cross meadows, I imagined the lines as a musical staff with these blue quarter notes that run across spring's blue skies.Poem and Text ©Michael J. Rosen. All rights reserved.
Wild Wings: Poems for Young People - The first collaboration between Jane and her son focused on birds, this collection of 14 poems was inspired by the stunning photos.
Fine Feathered Friends: Poems for Young People - The second book on birds in the Yolen-Stemple collaboration includes even more gorgeous photographs and inspired poems in a variety of forms.
An Egret's Day - This third collection focuses exclusively on the egret. That neck! Those feet! Photos get up close and personal and allow readers to see this magnificent bird from every angle. Poems full of metaphor and keen observation tell us much about these birds. Also included is factual information.
Bird's of a Feather - The most recent book in the bird collaboration, contains 14 poems in a variety of forms, each accompanied by a brief bit of informational text.One of the features I particularly like about the most recent book is the Foreword by ornithologist Dr. Donald Kroodsma. It begins this way.
As an ornithologist and obsessed with the details in the daily lives of birds, I know these eagles and chickadees and kingfishers and the other fine birds in this book. But after absorbing the poems and photographs here, I'll never see these birds again in the same way.Here's one of the poems.
. . .
Scientists collect numbers and study the details, but these poems and photographs give us another angle, reminding us that birds are far more than an accumulation of facts.
Juan often said that he hoped to write a novel about his life. He never had the chance. In fact, strict censorship by the colonial Spanish government prevented all Cuban poets and novelists from writing verses or stories about slavery.
The life story of Juan Francisco Manzano is known only because some of his autobiographical notes were smuggled to England, where they were published by abolitionists who hoped to raise support for their cause.
Messing Around on the Monkey BarsFor information on how to use this book in the classroom you can download a teacher's guide for Franco's book.
Time for recess!
Here we are,
on the monkey bars!
Hand over hand,
fast or slow,
our friends below.
Skipping two bars,
by just our knees.
above the ground,
and tumbling down.
here we are,
on the monkey bars!
Poem ©Betsy Franco. All rights reserved.
|Wheeee! I fly by helicoptering.|
|I move by parachute.|
|I took off from a maple tree|
inside my whirling suit.
|I launched my gentle journey|
from a dandelion’s head.
|I rotate as I travel.|
|I choose to drift instead.|
|Well, I’ve met gliders on my trips.|
|And I’ve watched spinners spin.|
|No matter how seeds fly around . . .|
|We’re carried by the wind.|
Poem © Carole Gerber. All rights reserved.
why so fast?
Out of my way!
I must get past!
where do you run?
Away from the lizard
and out of the sun.
what will you do?
I'll drink a drop
of morning dew.
Poem © David Harrison. All rights reserved.
The following poems were written to be read aloud by two readers at once, one taking the left-hand part, the other taking the right-hand part. The poems should be read from top to bottom, the two parts meshing in a musical duet. When both readers have lines at the same horizontal level, those lines are to be spoken simultaneously.From here, readers/speakers must jump right in. As a former member of a crew team, the poem Water Boatmen particularly appeals to me.
What set Terezin apart from Nazi death camps was the nature of many of its inmates. Terezin became "home" for many of the Jewish intellectuals and artists of Prague. As a result, it became a prison in which the arts were tolerated, then encouraged as a Nazi propaganda tool. Classical music and opera performances were commonplace, despite the horrors and cruelty of captivity.There is beauty in this collection, even though readers repeatedly experience loss and death. The humanity and strength of the victims, the depravity of the SS, and the horror that was the Holocaust is evident in Janezcko's carefully chosen words. Reading this is like watching a train wreck—you want to look away, but can't. I wanted to stop reading, but couldn't put it down.
Like Darwin, anthologists are passionate collectors, but the specimens we collect are poems. However, the process of collection in both areas is similar. At first, we simply gathered together as many poems as we could find that fit the subject we have chosen for your book. Then we decided how the book would be organized and we sorted our poems into the various categories we had chosen. The next step was putting the poems into some sort of order within these divisions so that they related thematically to their immediate neighbors.
. . .
The poems in this book explore many of the roots and limbs of Darwin's Tree, the branching tree that shows the connections among all forms of life. For some of these poems, we have offered brief comments or pointed out links to other poems.
The fickle bee believes it’s he
Who profits from the flower;
But as he drinks, the flower thinks
She has him in her power.
Her nectar is the reason
That she blooms, the bee is sure;
But flower knows her nectar
Is there merely for allure.
And as he leaves, the bee believes
He”ll sample someone new;
But flower knows that where he goes,
Her pollen’s going, too.
Poem ©Mary Ann Hoberman. All rights reserved.
habitat - the natural home of an animal or plant
The poems in this collection are loosely arranged by habitat, but you will find that coyotes, buts, and birds (to name a few) don't give a hoot about labels. Thanks to accommodations or adaptations or both, some creatures can live anyplace. Keep that in mind when the boundaries blur.