Friday, October 29, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Wordplay Poems

The challenge this month was to write a wordplay poem. Laura set this challenge based on one offered up by Nikki Grimes in May 2015 at Today's Little Ditty. Here's an excerpt:

When I first began to write poetry at age six, it was the result of wordplay.  So try this wordplay exercise and create your own free verse poem.

When I talk about wordplay, I'm talking about studying a word from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect of the word:  What it looks like, sounds like, feels like.  What it does, how it's used, etc.  The idea is to bring all of your senses into the act.  The poem you create may end up being complex and sophisticated, or very simple.  But whether you're writing a nursery rhyme, or a complex prose poem for adults, wordplay is a valuable skill in the process of creating dynamic, original, poetry, or lyrical prose.

Last year when we wrote hippo poems, I wrote in this form. I really love that poem, so I was a bit intimidated to try this again. It took a while to find a topic I liked, but I'm surprisingly happy with this draft about lemons.

Lemon is a sour word
that makes you purse your lips
squinch your face
shiver at its taste

Lemon is a disappointing word
turn the key in a new-to-you
used car as it sputters
and chokes

Lemon is sunny word
recalling hot summer days
money-making schemes
grandma’s depression glass pitcher

Lemon is a scurvy word
eat the wedge
peel and all
daily dose of Vitamin C

Lemon is a chef’s word
brightening every dish 
a zestful ingredient
unheralded secret weapon

I started a second poem on migration. It's not finished yet, but here's what I have so far. I really wanted to include immigrants or refugees, but couldn't find a way to do that. I'm going to keep playing with this one.

Migration is a traveling word
whether whale or wildebeest
bird or butterfly
life is lived in motion

Migration is a seasonal word
summer, winter, spring, and fall
searching for greener pastures
warmer climes

Migration is a wandering word
upstream, downstream riding currents
north to south and north again
never ending back and forth

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? We're writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical poem, and like the ancient Greeks, modern humans also enjoy marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you'll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and pie. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends.


  1. Lemon makes that spot on my jaw just in front of my ear hurt just reading it! Well done! ("Scurvy word" is still my favorite part!)

  2. Your lemon poem does such a good job of showing the different sides of lemons - I can smell and taste and feel them all. And I love your migration poem. Beautiful images wrapping so many directions... a wandering word. Keep working on that one and let us know how it goes!

  3. Oh, zestful -- both of these! The lemon of a used car was just perfect, and all that wandering in migration... beautiful!

  4. I love how thoroughly you explore lemons here, Tricia! And how it goes from sour to a zestful secret weapon! Also--live is lived in motion. That is so lovely and so true.

  5. I love both poems. I wonder if migration as travel isn't the way in to human migration, even though it's there for the birds and such?

  6. Man, I just -- scurvy!! Who even would think anyone still needed lemon drills!? I'm still agog! And you couldn't make a face! Were y'all timed, or something!? I think "zestful" is such a fun word here. And I REALLY love the unfinished second one - migration - a word that just living in motion, indeed.

  7. I am delighted with your lemons, such a beauty of a fruit with parts I know about yet may have never put them in, like with scurvy. And the migration, maybe it was your intro, but your opening, "a traveling word" put people in my mind, too. When I see crowds all over our earth on the move, I sympathize with their hardships, wonder how it feels never to just "be there". You've opened up some thoughts with both, Tricia. Thank you!

  8. Tricia, I like your take on this form, focusing less on the structure of the word and more on the shades of meaning. I too, love the scurvy stanza! And look how nicely your migration poem sits alongside my travel one...

  9. Ha! I forgot that lemon is a bad used car until you popped that in there. I love how your poem covers all the bases, from sour to sweet. Lovely!

  10. I could feel my lips purse as I read the first line of "Lemon"--excellent details of facial reactions! I enjoyed the alliteration in "Migration" (whale or wildebeest / bird or butterfly...wandering word). Have fun playing with it!

  11. I love these lines in the lemon poem
    "a zestful ingredient
    unheralded secret weapon"

    I love the unexpectedness of the language "secret weapon."

    Thanks for sharing these and for the invitation to the next challenge!

  12. You have provided us with the many sides of lemons but when I read scurvy word I had to pause and laugh. As for your migration poem I think it is shaping up so nicely. I could not help but think that adding a stanza on immigrants or refugees would be a beautiful thought. Perhaps you can use the thought human migration as a prompt when trying to craft your thoughts.

  13. The migration poem resonated with me. I like the third stanza.