by: Patricia Johnson
Posted on: Sun, 9 Dec 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 23 Nov 2003
This week's exercise gets us involved in
poetry. Anyone who loves
language is a poet at heart. From nursery rhymes to great long poems
form and rhythm like Longfellow's Hiawatha, everyone experiences
fiction and non-fiction use poetic devices.)
Poetry allows one to express the central
heart of an idea using
pared down and
succinct wording. Musical qualities, rhyme, rhythm, free verse,
other poetic devices enable our ideas to be expressed in poetic form.
allows every author to think through what they are writing, and express
it in a
fresh new way.
Don't worry if you have no experience with
poetry, here is a helpful
provides guidelines and a quick reference or refresher:
Think of a story and see it as a poem.
There are many examples of
into poems. One would be the story of Santa Claus told in the poem by
Henry Livingston Jr.,(1748-1828), 'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
two verses from it:
And then, in a
twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in
fur, from his head to his
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
This rhymes and has an iambic beat. But
poetry can be unrhymed as in
verse form. Take for instance this poem by Rumi who was born in 1207:
When I remember your
I cry, and when I hear others
speak of you,
then inside my chest,
with its hollowness since your passing,
once again a rustling as in a dream.
Some more examples of poetry can be found
in song lyrics, like the
"Pop Goes the Weasel"
All around the cobbler's
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought t'was all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel.
A penny for a spool of
A penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Most pop songs of today have lyrics and
poetic qualities - from
Rap, to Elvis, there are poems in the songs we hear.
Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" is another
good example of a poem that
story, here is one stanza:
But the raven, sitting
lonely on the placid bust,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends
have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."
(You can see the full poem at
- try reading this aloud
to get the full effect of Poe's craft.)
Exercise: Take a scene or short prose
piece of preferably your own
you may use another writer's work also) and turn it into a poem. Submit
the main theme of the scene, in less than 150 words, and the poem so we
compare the two.
When you critique a submission, mention
the poetic devices you found
poem and critique whether or not the main idea of the original story is
heart of the poem. Have fun, remember, we are all poets!
Patricia Johnson's wrap-up
Thanks to everyone of you, poets, you made
this a very successful
Great poems were submitted, it was hard to believe some were first
The submissions often started with disclaimers like 'I'm no poet',
'this is a
first attempt, but it would seem our life-long exposure to poetry has
each of us have a high level of skills that were apparent in the
and critiques. So, the title of this exercise is proven right in the
group - everyone's a poet.
Themes translated well from the prose
pieces to the poems. Everyone
own style, and many poems took different slants on the ideas of the
theme. Florence Cardinal mentioned that many of the poems placed more
on emotions. Emotion and other devices such as rhyme, rhythm, the
symbolism transformed the poems from prose into something of their very
The differences expressed in the poems are that magic that separates a
The critiques were excellent. They were
professional and covered all
the poems. Pointing out the poem's differences from a prose theme
hidden treasures of a poem to be studied.
Rheal mentioned that there is a thread in
the writing list about
posted the poetry exercise with some comments at the writing list. Read
it - it
mentions that poetry does not have to be so symbolic and laden with
messages that it becomes inaccessible to readers.
To quote Rheal in a separate post, "It's
great to see people start
not a poet", then come up with a great poem." I think all your
helped to prove his words right.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.