Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Lai

The Lai is a French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes, though the rhyme can vary from stanza to stanza. Here are features of the form.
  • 9 lines.
  • Rhyme scheme is a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b.
  • Lines ending with rhyme a are five syllables in length.
  • Lines ending with rhyme b are two syllables in length.
You can read more about this form and its variants at Poetry Form - The Lai. You can read an example at The Poet's Garret.

So, the challenge for the week is to write a lai. Won't you join us? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Poetry Friday - The Box Marked Summer

As I hit the road today to enjoy one final weekend of summer and a BIG birthday (tomorrow!), I'm well into back-to-school mode as I watch my son desperately hang onto the last few days before he begins the adventure known as high school.

Today I'm sharing a poem by Bobbi Katz.

What Shall I Pack in the Box Marked "Summer"? 
by Bobbi Katz 
found in A Chorus of Cultures: Developing Literacy Through Multicultural Poetry (p. 238)

A handful of wind that I caught with a kite
A firefly’s flame in the dark of the night
The green grass of June that I tasted with toes
The flowers I knew from the tip of my nose
The clink of ice cubes in pink lemonade
The fourth of July Independence parade!
The sizzle of hot dogs, the fizzle of coke
Some pickles and mustard and barbecue smoke
The print of my fist in the palm of my mitt,
As I watched for the batter to strike out or hit
The splash of the water, the top-to-toe cool
Of a stretch-and-kick trip through a blue swimming pool
The tangle of night songs that slipped through my screen
Of crickets and insects too small to be seen
The seed pods that formed on the flowers to say
That Summer was packing her treasures away.

Poem ©Bobbi Katz. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Lune

One can find many variations on haiku these days. Often these forms attempt to find a syllabic pattern that is more appropriate to English than Japanese. Today's poetry stretch takes the form of one of these variations.
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.
(Adapted from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
You can try your hand at writing an instant lune or learn more about the form at Poetic Asides.

I wrote these lunes to get us started.
Lune #1
wings beating, whirring
sipping sweet nectar

Can you guess what I was watching when I wrote this?

Lune #2
watermelon days
rush headlong
toward pencils, books, desks

I suppose none of us can escape this one. I, for one, can't wait!

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a lune. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Poetry Friday - End of Summer

I'm sad to report that summer has officially been over for me for at least two weeks. However, that melancholy is always replaced by the joy of welcoming new students. 

Today I'm sharing a poem by Stanley Kunitz.

End of Summer
by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Catherine at Reading to the Core. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Décima

The following description comes from my April 2015 interview with Margarita Engle.

The décima is a rhymed, metered poem that most commonly has ten eight-syllable lines in a rhyme pattern abba aa abba.

Here's an example.

by Margarita Engle

In a time when people were stars
in deep, hidden caves of the sea,
a fisherman ventured so far
that a hole in the cave set him free.

He burst from the cave up to sky
and reached the bold shimmer of light.
No longer a man who could cry,
he was silent until darkest night.

Then the song that flew from his heart
was the sweetest song ever heard,
a melody about the start
of life as a winged, singing bird!

Poem ©Margarita Engle, 2015. All rights reserved.

In this poem, Margarita used twelve lines with a rhyme pattern abab  cdcd  efef. As she said, "Changing a décima is perfectly acceptable!  When they’re used as the lyrics of rumba songs, they are often improvised."

You can learn more about the décima at NBCLatino.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a décima. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#pb10for10 - Books to Begin My Semester

I've been working these last few weeks on preparing my syllabi for fall classes. Here are the books I'll be sharing the first week of the semester with my preservice teachers in my math and science classes.

During the first week we explore the nature of science and the work of scientists.
What is Science?, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa

What is a Scientist?, written by Barbara Lehn with photographs by Carol Krauss

Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!, written by Kathleen Kudlinski and illustrated by S.D. Schindler

11 Experiments That Failed, written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Lives of the Scientists: Experiments, Explosions (and What the Neighbors Thought), written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt 

During the first week we discuss how math is used in our daily lives and we jump right in and solve problems. 
Math Curse, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith

Missing Math: A Number Mystery, written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour

Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack

The Grapes of Math, written by Greg Tan and illustrated by Harry Briggs

You can check out the other folks participating at the Picture Book 10 for 10 community.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Nonet

The nonet is a nine line poem with a diminishing number of syllables in each line. The first line containing nine syllables, the next eight, the next seven, and so on. This pattern continues until the last line (the ninth line) has only one syllable.

There is no rhyme requirement and nonets can be written about any subject.

You can read more about this form and see a few examples at Write Tribe.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a nonet. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Poetry Seven Write Classified Ad-Haiku

Last month I believed that writing in the style of e.e. cummings was our hardest challenge. I take it back. THIS was the hardest challenge. Sometimes I find shorter forms more difficult than longer ones, and we've written to some challenging forms this year, including villanelles, sestins, raccontinos, and pantoums. So really, you'd think haiku would be a piece of cake.

But honestly, I think haiku are really hard to write. Seems ridiculous, doesn't it? But if you follow the rules (and there are lots of them), writing haiku in the spirit intended requires patience, a keen eye, and skill. Here is the formal definition of haiku and some notes about the form provided by the Haiku Society of America.
haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. 
Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest, though today's poets use a variety of line lengths and arrangements. In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen "sounds" (on) arranged five, seven, and five. (Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about twelve syllables in English approximates the duration of seventeen Japanese on.) Traditional Japanese haiku include a "season word" (kigo), a word or phrase that helps identify the season of the experience recorded in the poem, and a "cutting word" (kireji), a sort of spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem. In English, season words are sometimes omitted, but the original focus on experience captured in clear images continues. The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas (Japanese rensô). Punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break may substitute for a cutting word. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. (Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently. 
See, that's a lot to keep in mind for such a short poem. Perhaps that's why great haiku pack such a punch.

Never a group to do things the easy way, we added to the challenge of writing haiku by requiring that we use the form to write classified ads. And what a challenge it was! I wrote numerous pieces, most of which fell into the category of senryu.

Senryu is a Japanese poetic form similar in structure to haiku. Instead of focusing on nature and the essence of a particular moment as haiku do, senryu are concerned with human nature, political issues, and satire. While one is usually quite serious, the other is more playful. 

Here is how the Haiku Society of America defines senryu.
A senryu is a poem, structurally similar to haiku, that highlights the foibles of human nature, usually in a humorous or satiric way.
The 13th Floor Paradigm has this nice bit of history and other information on senryu.
The Senryu came into existence as an independent genre in the Edo Period (1718-1790). It is often satirical, ironical, irreverent, mundane, cynical and is about human nature, therefore about human foibles including the erotic.  It has the same form of the Haiku, but doesn’t use a seasonal word (kigo) and it doesn’t have a cutting word (keiriji)  (in reality, in English we have no direct equivalents to the keiriji, so we use what’s called a cutting phrase.) 
It would be wrong to think that Senryu is always humorous.  In fact, a Senryu could talk about divorce, sex, murder, war, jealousy, cruelty…in a word every day-to-day events in human society.
Alright, it's time to set this rambling introduction aside. I'm generally on the ball with these challenges, but this time around I wrote just over 20 poems in one day -- YESTERDAY! Here are my 3 favorite drafts.

Seasonal workers
needed - Wear boots, bring shovels
Buffalo in May


Seeking teen to teach
hip old guy to surf, tweet, blog …
once the damn thing's on


Kicka$$ girl seeks boy
for whirlwind romance, mating—
head loss optional

Okay, I've added one more, this written last night. I really wanted a poem that started with "Desperately seeking." Here's what I scribbled in the wee hours in the notebook I keep by my bed.

Desperately seeking
susans - my favorite daisy
sunshine on a stem

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, August 03, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Timeline Poem

So, this isn't really a form, but I can't think of any other way to describe this. I have a number of books I regularly use for inspiration and guidance as I write poetry. One of these books is A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching From Poems We Love, written by Nick Flynn and Shirley McPhillips. In the chapter on list poems (the chapter that gives the book its title) is this example.

by Homero Aridjis

On cold mornings the ducks
slide across the ice
after the dry bread
thrown to them by the little girl

In the afternoon
the hungry ducks
cross the street
against the traffic

At night the ducks
nestle beside the frozen canal
they scarcely move
their green heads

At dawn the ducks
sleep beneath the mist
which cover the man
the dog and the stone alike

Though ostensibly a list poem, I love the arrangement of this series of moments in time, hence my term "timeline" poem. Your challenge this week is to write a poem that describes a series of events over some span of time. I hope you'll join me this week in writing a timeline poem. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.