Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Poetry Month!

Hi, this is Marilyn. Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Have you been writing or reading poems this month? I hope so! If you'd like to join in, there are many kinds of poems you can write, and here are a few:

- Acrostic. With this type of poem, start by writing a word, such as your name, one letter on each line. For example, I would start like this:

Then, use the the first letter on each line to begin the first word of that line of your poem. Here's my acrostic poem:

M y springtime memory:
A daffodil
R ising from the soil
I n my garden
L ively, lovely
Y ellow head
N odding in the April breeze

Try it, using different words and different themes for your acrostic poem!

- Cento. Traditionally, a cento poem is made of lines of poetry, each line taken from a different poet. For example, the first line might be from a poem by Robert Frost, the next from e. e. cummings, the third from Li Po, the fourth from Homer, and so on. But you can take tradition and mix it up by writing a cento poem with your friends. You start by writing the first line of the poem. Then a friend writes the second, another friend the third, and so on, until you have a completed poem. Try it!

- Haiku. This poem, which originated in Japan, often contains 17 syllables: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 in the third line. Haiku describe a moment in time or a detail in nature that might not otherwise be noticed--almost like taking a really fast photo of something very close up. For example, here's a haiku that I wrote last weekend when I went on a wild horse safari in Nevada:

Wind whistles through sage
Stallions gallop, stop to stare
Black hair blows like smoke

Okay, it's not great, but you can probably picture the vast open space of the harsh landscape, and then the band of stallions galloping freely across it. They stop when they see me watching, and only the hair of their manes and tails moves, blown by the wind.

Haiku can be longer than three lines, because you can write several related haiku. This month, I'm writing one haiku each day, and by the end of the month I'll have a "snapshot" of my month.

- Psalm. Did you know that a psalm is a song, a prayer, and a poem? There are basically five types of psalms: hymn (sacred song of praise), lament (describing suffering and longing), royal (acknowledging kingship), thanksgiving (gratitude), and wisdom (knowledge and discernment). The longest psalm in the Bible is Psalm 119, and the shortest is Psalm 117 (which is only two lines long!).

You can write a psalm! Start by praying for God to clear your mind and heart. Then let what you think and feel guide your writing. Your psalm will become a written prayer.

Have fun writing poetry, and God bless!

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