April 12, 2016

Thursday, April 26, 2012

30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets #26: On Fun


During the last twenty-five days, we have looked at writing habits -- from researching ideas on Google, to scheduling regular writing time, and reciting poems into a recorder. Some of the posts have been funny but, so far, we haven't talked much about having fun.

Obviously, not every poetic topic lends itself to a party atmosphere. However, adding some fun into your writing routine is a good reminder that there is joy to be found in poetry.

So, go have fun with your writing today. Some suggestions:

  • Attend a poetry event. Hanging out with friends or meeting new folks helps me feel connected to the local literary community. It's the last Thursday of National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day. has a list of happenings going on around the country today. I plan to spend the afternoon at Howard Community College's Blackbird Poetry Festival, featuring Kim Addonizio and Michael Cirelli.
  • Host a "Poetic Formal." You could try this event in your classroom, at a library or bookstore. What is it? I'll let you know tomorrow, because my friends Shirley Brewer, Clarinda Harriss, Bruce Sager and I are hosting the first known Poetic Formal tonight. Loosely defined, a poetic formal is a reading of form poetry performed in kitschy formal clothing, with prizes going to creatively attired audience members. (Are you free tonight? I'll see you 6:30 PM at Baltimore's Village Learning Place. In addition to the prizes, free food and drink. Formal wear is optional. I'll be wearing a vintage 70s polyester "Goddess Gown.")

  • Write an ode to something random. One of Pablo Neruda's odes to common things is "Ode to Laziness." He wrote another to a tomato. Odes are all about heightened language, hyperbole and tone. Looking around right now, I think "Ode to an Eraser" has potential.

  • Write a song parody or poem parody. My fifth graders at Swansfield E. S. were working on song parodies yesterday. We did a version of "Jingle Bells" about the classroom's very dirty fish tank. It was a hoot.

Here is a poem parody that I wrote specifically for tonight's Poetic Formal event. (Friendly for HS and up only.) There's an article on villanelle form here.

Villanelle in 6/8 Time

By Laura Shovan

You are vile, Villanelle --
demands a la Twister,
corkscrewed nautilus shell.

I’ve done yoga (I fell).
It earned me a blister.
You are vile, Villanelle.

Elbow yellow! You yell.
My form’s a disaster --
corkscrewed nautilus shell.

Left foot red! That’s just swell,
reach under my keister.
You are vile, Villanelle,

a robotic gazelle,
with haywire transistor,
corkscrewed nautilus shell.

My vocab’s gone to hell.
I’m out of here, Mister.
You are vile, Villanelle.
Screw your nautilus shell.
 What do you do when you're in the mood for poetry fun?


Robyn Hood Black said...

Ha! Love the villanelle. Thanks for all these fun ideas, and I hope someone will be taking pictures this evening... and that you'll post!

Anonymous said...

I love villanelles too--I could write them all the time but don't want to be "just a villanelle poet!"