Archive for the ‘Poems’ category

Kobayashi Haiku

April 14th, 2011

Earlier this school year, 5923 Quarterly published my short story Hiccup. This past Saturday I wrote a slightly-nerdy poem called “Kobayashi Haiku” (the name is a parody of the dreaded final exam in Star Trek’s Starfleet Academy)(and yes, I am proud to remember the name of the test).

The poem was selected as a featured work on Thin Air Magazine’s Writers’ Challenge site. Go check it out here.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

February 28th, 2011

Today I thought I would put up a review of I Am Number Four, check out some books, and help a class with iMovie. I’ve done that, but I also read Love That Dog. I read it in under an hour and while completing those previously mentioned tasks.

Love That Dog is great. It’s a simple story about a boy writing poems in class and his teacher’s reactions. We have to infer her reactions because we’re only getting one side of the story.

The entire book is in verse, which helps make it a quick read. What I especially loved, though, is the inclusion of eight other poems from published authors. The main character makes commentary on each one. My favorite?

…who wrote about
those snowy woods
and the miles to go
before he sleeps –

I think Mr. Robert Frost
has a little
on his

So great. I sometimes see in YA fiction references to other YA works. Avi’s reference to The Outsiders in Nothing but the Truth is a prime example of this. In Love That Dog, the main character reads a poem from Walter Dean Myers. He loves it so much that he writes to Walter Dean Myers to see if he can visit their school. I think I’m just as much of a fanboy as the fictional protagonist and would love for Myers to visit our junior high. (Just like in the book, we have a clean school full of mostly nice kids.)

Love That Dog is a little bit older (it was published in 2001), but if you have it on the shelf and haven’t read it yet, it’s a definite must.

All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

September 13th, 2010

I will be honest: I judged All the Broken Pieces by its cover. It has a baseball on the cover and a Language Arts teacher told me it was a good book, especially for boys. I was skeptical because I knew it was a verse book and, even though I love verse books, I know that the direct market for verse books is girls.

All the Broken Pieces challenges that. Yes, baseball is not much of the story; protagonist Matthew must confront his memories of fleeing a war-torn Vietnam, so emotions and the conflict versus self are the main focus of the story. But how is that different from March Toward the Thunder? That one is marketed to both genders, but I know more boys check it out.

Burg’s verse format actually helps the narrative. One characteristic of verse novels is that, when written well, you can finish them in one sitting. That’s the case here. I kept turning pages, just one more segment of poems, wanting to know more. That process repeated all the way to the end.

This is a well-told story about the effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers, on the US homefront, and on the people of Vietnam. If you’re looking for something like The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, this is not it and you won’t hear much about squad combat. You will, on the other hand, hear what it’s like to have napalm dropped on your village. The thing I appreciate, though, is that Burg does not take sides. She presents the effects and lets you draw your own conclusions without being preachy.

This is a great debut novel from Ann Burg and I’m excited to see more.

Science Limericks

September 10th, 2009

To set up your hypothesis
Make an informative guess
For what you will try
To be like Bill Nye
And live a life of success.

Limericks have a specific structure for rhyme scheme and rhythm.

The rhyme scheme is
A – hypothesis
A – guess
B – try
B – Nye
A – success

So in the sample above, notice that hypothesis and guess rhyme, try and Nye rhyme, and then I bring the rhyme back to success, rhyming with hypothesis and guess. Limericks need to stick to the AABBA rhyme scheme to be a traditional limerick.

For the rhythm part, to keep it simple let’s just say that lines 1,2, and 5 are the longer rhythms and 3 and 4 are the quicker rhythms.

Tradition has it that limericks started out in Limerick, Ireland (sounds believable enough) and that the poems have their roots in a certain type of song.

Here’s a brain-teaser limerick from Kay DeVicci and

The sum of 3 numbers is 4;
The product is (-2) more;
The sum of their squares,
If anyone cares,
Is just 14 less than a score.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

April 23rd, 2008

Great verse book by Lisa Schroeder. If students like Sonya Sones and Kelly Bingham, this is the next book that they need to read. It’s a different twist on the whole mourning/ghost story-type book.

Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill

November 20th, 2007

a natural lyrical gift

Rarefied as Rembrandt,
a student like this appears once

Your Own, Sylvia is probably one of the most accessible biographies for students. Hemphill does a great job presenting the birth and death of Sylvia Plath.

The Beautiful

  1. There are lots of interesting details, presented in a way that is intriguing. (I never would have pictured famous poet Sylvia Plath as a guard on the high school basketball team.)
  2. Each little snippet is a poem – but a fictionalized poem by one of the people that knew her. The above quote is from Wilbury Crockett, her high school English teacher. But what’s extremely cool is that this quote uses words that Crockett actually said.
  3. The accessibility/readability of the book helps to paint a bigger picture of her life and motivations. The footnotes amidst the poems help to put events in historical context.

The Tragic

  1. Sylvia Plath ended her life violently. The book leads up to this, but does not paint it as the focal point of her life.
  2. There are no traditional paragraphs, only poems and footnotes.

Fans of Sonya Sones or Kelly Bingham will definitely enjoy this.