Posted by: jockmackenzie | July 9, 2009

“Poetry and Song” – ENTRY 7 – Form and Formula Poems

THIS IS AN ABRIDGED EXCERPT FROM MY DRAFT COPY OF “POETRY AND SONG.” THE INTENT OF SHARING IN THIS WAY IS TO GIVE CLASSROOM TEACHERS SOME IDEAS FOR IMMEDIATE USE – BUT ALSO TO PIQUE INTEREST IN THE BOOK, A BOOK STILL LOOKING FOR A PUBLISHER.


CHAPTER SIX – Form and Formula Poems

You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?
Wait till I whup George Foreman’s behind.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see
Now you see me, now you don’t
George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.

http://everything2.com/e2node/Muhammad%2520Ali

I chose the Muhammad Ali poem to start this chapter because it appealed to the boys in my classes. Needless to say, getting boys to write poetry can seem daunting. By reminding them that men’s men write poetry, that poetry doesn’t have to be “Roses are red, etc.,” that poetry can be funny, meaningful – and not all that difficult, many boys were more willing to try it.

Neither boys nor girls get excited about doing the same old thing. Sadly, some form poems have been over done. In my experience, the haiku, diamonte, and cinquain are the three most common culprits. For that reason, this book will not describe them yet again.

In keeping with the Ali poem, students can be shown the general formula that Ali used. Once an opponent was found for an upcoming fight, Ali would compose a poem that would predict the round in which he would defeat his prey. Here’s an example that I wrote to give my kids the idea:

The Night of the Fight

I’ll dazzle that dude
I’ll dance on his head
I’ll give ‘im my hook
He’ll wish he were dead

So Frazier, you dummy
Don’t give me no jive
For those who are bettin’
I’ll take him in 5.

For some students, the only “form” they need is the concept. In the Ali example, write a poem that predicts when the opponent will be defeated. For other students it might help to require that the final word of the poem be a number.


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