Monday, April 30, 2012

Poetry and children: terms and techniques

How to eat a poem Don’t be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
May run down your chin.

It is ready and ripe now, wherever you are.

Eve Merriam

Poetry: some techniques (definitions from Poetry Online unless otherwise stated)

Poetry type of literature that is written in meter. A "poem" (from the Greek poiemalis) a specific work of poetry. A Poetry Form is the general organizing principle of a literary work.

Verse A single metrical line of poetry, or poetry in general (as opposed to prose).

Couplet A couplet has rhyming stanzas each made up of two lines. Shakespearean sonnets usually end in a couplet.

Onomatopoeia A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds. Examples of onomatopoeic words can be found in numerous Nursery Rhymes e.g. clippety-clop and cock-a-doodle-do.
Alliteration The repetition of the same or similar sounds at the beginning of words such as tongue twisters like 'She sells seashells by the seashore'

Metaphor A metaphor is a pattern equating two seemingly unlike objects. An examples of a metaphor is 'drowning in debt'.

Simile A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the word "like" or "as" to draw attention to similarities about two things that are seemingly dissimilar.

Narrative verse Verse which tells a story e.g. The Wife of Bath's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Ballad A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or legend and often has a repeated refrain.

Lyric poetry A poem, such as a sonnet or an ode, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. The term lyric is now generally referred to as the words to a song.
Limerick A short sometimes bawdy, humorous poem of consisting of five anapaestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of a Limerick have seven to ten syllables and rhyme with one another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven syllables and also rhyme with each other.
Haiku A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Haiku reflects on some aspect of nature.

Concrete poetry Experimental poetry which emerged during the 1950-1960s and concentrated on the visual appearance of the words on the page. It featured new typographical arrangements, shape poems and the use of collage etc. It owed much to early figure poems such as The Altar and Easter-Wings by George Herbert. The effect of Concrete Poetry is lost when the poem is read aloud.

Poetry of colloquial, idiomatic speech use of everyday rhyme
“If I can read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that it is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Emily Dickinson

Some techniques
Willoughby Wallaby Woo
Willoughby, wallaby, woo.
I don’t know what to do.

Willoughby, wallaby, woo.
An elephant sat on me.

Dennis Lee

There was an old man in a barge,
Whose nose was exceedingly large,
But in fishing by night,
It supported the light
Which helped that old man in the barge.
Edward Lear


In the amber dark
Each island dreams its own night
The sea swims with gold
James Kirkup

Figures of speech

The Eagle
(second stanza)
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Fog
The fog comes in
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg

Concrete poetry

a s
big as
ball as round
as sun . . . I tug
and pull you when
wind bows I
say polite
Colleen Thibaudeau

Poems can give you

Poems can give you
double vision.
They make you see
the colours you feel
when you’re sad
the sound of a red,
red sunset,
the smells of happiness,
the flavours of the seasons,
Double vision
not blurred
but crisp as last night snow.
Sandra Bogart

Children and poetry
Don’t like poetry? Chances are you had an unpleasant introduction to it as a child. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts you can follow when presenting poetry to children.

Don’t ...
* introduce poetry by dissecting it. Leave the academic exercises for the academics.
* read poetry aloud without practicing it enough to read it well.
* confuse problems that are about children with poems that are for children.
* present poems that have involved figures of speech obsolete language.
* introduce poetry by have children read it silently.
* require children to memorize poetry.
* use poetry as a reading exercise.
* grade a poem.
* select poems that are pedantic or that are about a subject in which children probably have a minimal interest, such as reflections on growing old.
* select poems with obscure meanings or language beyond the child’s comprehension
* underestimate the abilities of children.

Do ...
* make poetry a regular part of a reading program.
* read poetry aloud often.
* provide a variety of poems in books and tapes.
* supply a wide variety of subject matter, a myriad of stanza and rhyme schemes and rhythms.
* make several anthologies available to children.
* select contemporary poetry as well as older material.
* help children avoid sing-song reading aloud.
* choose poems with comprehensible subject matter.
* encourage children to write poetry.
* encourage children to illustrate poems.
* encourage children to form collections of their favourite poems.
* choose poems that have action or humour.
* try choral or dramatic readings or have children pantomime poetry.

Adapted from –
Russell, David L. Literature and children. White Plains, New York: Longman Publishing Group, 1991, pp. 83-84.

Sutherland, Zena and May Hill Arbuthnot, Children and books 7th ed. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1986, pp. 276-277.

See also –
Hopkins, Lee Bennett, Pass the poetry please! New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

No comments: