April 12, 2016

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poetry Madness

It's Round Two of March Madness Poetry.

The only hoops in this game are the ones children's poets jump through. In each round, organizer Ed DeCaria gives the "authletes" an assigned word. We have 36 hours to create a kid-friendly poem, using that word.

This brilliant bracket belongs to and is the creation of the technically astounding Ed DeCaria.

It's up to readers to decide who moves through the the next round of the tournament. Ed, an educator and poet, has this handy list of things to look for in a strong poem.

From Think Kid, Think!:

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:
  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word.
  • Technical elements: meter, rhyme, form, shape, and other poetic standards.
  • Creativity: wordplay, imagery, unusual approach, etc.
  • Subtle elements that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Your overall response: emotional reaction such as admiration, tears, laughter, terror, or some indefinable feeling.
Teachers, if you are studying poetry with the class, Ed's five "things to consider" would make a great topic for discussion about why we like or don't like certain poems.

My word for this round was "speculate." The first thought that popped into my mind was, "speculate what's on my plate" -- maybe a mealtime poem.

I wrote three pages of notes for this poem.

Page 1: Speculating about what's on the plate.
If it's a school lunch, it could be Rib-B-Que or mystery meat.
At home, maybe its unidentifiable leftovers for dinner.

Page 2: more notes with potential-words Post-It.
In my word bank, I had related words, synonyms and rhyming words:

spectacle--both meanings
specter (a ghost in this poem?)
speculate (with definition)
ruminate: to must upon, meditate

Notice that the word "flatulate" does not appear anywhere on my list. Hold that thought.

I played around with a few lines before submitting. The "radioactive fleas" became "radioactive peas" to better integrate the poem's food theme.

As much as I liked the speaker's personality coming through in the line "That's why I'm being so dramatic. Some vegetables make me asthmatic," I chucked it. The poem was starting to feel like a string of one-liners. For that reason, I also added some enjambment.

You can read the final poem, "A Bargain," here:

However, before I sent the poem in, I once again doubted myself and wrote a totally different poem.

Page 3: Another attempt.
The tournament is called March Madness
for good reason.


My brother complains,
          "Why must you always speculate about normal things.
          Grass it just green. There are stars in the sky.
          Does it matter why?"
It matters to me! I want to know
          if my skin absorbs light like a blade of grass
          why don't I turn green? And how can it be
          that atoms are in me, the grass and those faraway stars?

Laura Shovan

This poem was uniformally voted against by my husband, kid #1 and kid #2.

Remember the thought that I asked you to hold? The word speculate has some, let's call them interesting, rhymes. Which my very goofy parents quickly realized. They raced off to write their own "speculate" poems, rushing to see who could send me theirs first.

Mom's Poem

On dewy ground I perambulate,
Allowing my thoughts to fluctuate,
Now is the time to speculate,
On why I have to flatulate.

by Pauline Dickson and not Franklyn Dickson

Dad's Poem

I hesitate to speculate
About the impact to my fate
When we go to bed at eight
And all I do is flatulate!

By Franklyn Dickson

Growing up in my family, it would have
been useful to have this sign in the house.
I have no idea how to do fancy voting stuff on my blog like the set-up on Think Kid, Think. However, feel free to leave a comment about which fart poem you prefer.

And remember, you can never be too old to have embarrassing parents.

Take it away, George Carlin! He shares a few fart jokes in this kid-appropriate clip.


Tabatha said...

I'm amazed at how popular "deleterious" was! Also, it seemed like the difficult assigned words stimulated poets to include other unusual words. Did you notice that? I love that your parents used your word to write their own poems. Both have their own charm, but I'm voting for mom.

Renee LaTulippe said...

Oh, my. These are great parents. It's so hard to choose as they are both clearly masters in the art of flatulence! If squeezed, I would have to go with Mr. Dickson's poem as it contains a full-bodied fart story as opposed to Mrs. Dickson's passing ghastly rumination.

As for your own process, thanks for the peek inside your mind. It is very ordered, at least one paper, which somehow doesn't surprise me. Who knows what happens off the paper, though!

And thanks for George Carlin - he used my word SUBTERFUGE! :)

Author Amok said...

Dear Tabatha -- I agree. My mom sets up her poem so liltingly in that first line. When the bomb drops, it's a surprise.

Renee, seriously, it wasn't so funny when I was 15. Full-bodied fart sums my father up well.

Cool about George Carlin. I love him. He would have been great in the March Madness competition -- a master of language and wordplay.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this!!!

Liz Steinglass said...

Did I miss something?
They both went away and came back with fart poems--independently?
A match made in heaven?

Author Amok said...

Hi, Liz. If I know my parents, they were listing rhymes for "speculate" together. One of them came up with THAT WORD. They both started cracking up and then the race was on to see who could send me a fart poem first.

I neglected to mention that my mother was born in England and still, when you first meet her, seems like a proper British lady. Ha! That's what 40+ years of marriage to a guy from the Bronx will do for you.

Linda B said...

So Laura, does this mean more than poetry is in your jeans, oops I meant genes? The poems are spectacular, but I like your mom's best because it's such a lady-like beginning until the bomb drops. Your parents sound terrific! And, I loved seeing your process. I worked by hand, but also on several other pieces of paper. I also like poem no. 2, but I tend to like the serious ones best. Thanks Laura-best wishes!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Linda and hello M.M. Socks!

Linda, when a poem comes to mind quickly, I often go for the keyboard. If I need space, it's pages of paper so I can lay things out and pick and choose ideas. I tell my students that writing a poem can be like having a map in front of you. You know where you want to go, but it's good to see all possible routes so you can choose the one that's best (scenic? direct? avoids tolls?). I'm glad you liked poem #2 -- I did not miss the pun, lady!

My parents are a hoot. They are having a blast with their poems.

Gloson Teh said...

Great post! I finally get to read your parents' poems now! :D Yep, that's the first mistake I made in MMPoetry, not writing more than one poem. I somehow didn't, and that turned out to be quite fatal. Haha.

It's a really tough choice! I think I prefer your mom's poem because it is totally unexpected and made me laugh :)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Gloson. Thanks for stopping by! I have written two distinct poems (and multiple drafts) for each round. It's my way of hashing out ideas and seeing which one will work best. That's the one I revise. You did a great job in the competition and I'm impressed that a young poet hung in there with the adults and pros!

I couldn't choose between my parents (or their poems), but I do like how my mother's poem lulls the reader before the fumes strike.