April is National Poetry Month

I feel like we *blinked* and April is already almost gone, so let’s get ready to wrap up the month with a little rhythm and rhyme. Poetry can be intimidating at times, but if we break down the writing elements and look at some examples it’s perhaps not as difficult as we think it is. Writing a good poem, like everything else, takes practice.

Elements of Poetry

It’s important to keep these things in mine while we’re reading and writing poetry. The rhythm of a poem is really what sets it apart from other types of writing. There’s a rhythm and beat like we would normally find in music, which makes poetry a really interesting and fun type of writing. Something else to keep in mind are the different types of poetry.

Types of Poems

There are so many ways to write poems! Take a look at the chart here. Many of these you’ve probably learned about and written in class before. You’re exposed to poems and elements of poetry all the time, and I bet you don’t even realize it.

Show, Don’t Tell

A very important thing to think about, no matter what kind of creative writing, is “Show, Don’t Tell.” This really means you enhance the picture you’re painting for the reader by using interesting descriptions rather than simple descriptions.

What Makes a Poem…a Poem?

Here’s a quick informational video showing that poems of all shapes and lengths (shapes? yes, poems can be in a shape) come from a variety of authors.

Awesome Examples of Poetry

“Brown Bear What Do You See” by Eric Carle

“This Beautiful Day” by Richard Jackson

Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb”

Now something you may not realize is poetry can feel very musical because it has beats, rhythm, and often rhyme. Think about some of your favorite songs. If you take the music away, some of them might sound like a poem. Now this isn’t true for all songs, but Hip-Hop and Rap are written with beats and rhymes in a similar way poetry is.

Read the sets of lyrics below and see if you can pay attention to the rhyme scheme and the beat:

What’s the lesson?
What is the take-away?
Don’t mess with Maui when he’s on a break-away
And the tapestry here on my skin
Is a map of the victories I win
Look where I’ve been
I make everything happen
Look at that mean mini-Maui just tickety-tappin’

Here’s another set of lyrics:

You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal”
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel!

Both of those are from songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who is not only a talented performer, but a very talented writer. If you read them without the music, they read kind of like poems, don’t they? And just for fun, here are videos of each song.

“You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana

“Work!” from the Broadway hit show Hamilton

Looking for Writing Inspiration?

If you’re looking for inspiration on writing poetry, take a look at some of your favorite authors and song writers! And if you need help getting started, check out these writing prompts below.

  • Reach for the nearest book and open to a random page. Make a list of ten words that jump out at you. Write a poem using at least five of those words.
  • Write a poem to your favorite color. Include objects, places, or feelings that remind you of that color.
  • Make a list of words that rhyme. Pick random words and see how many rhymes you can come up with!
  • Practice alliteration. Alliteration happens when words that appear close together in a line or verse share the same beginning sound (usually a consonant). The children cheered with excitement.
  • Continue this poem: “Today, I wish…” Depending on the day, or time of day, this could be several different poems. Some days you might feel like rhyming, and some days you might not.
  • Continue this poem: “Underground, there lives…”
  • Write a “Thank You” or gratitude poem. Think about a person or things you’re thankful for.

I hope you feel inspired to write your own poems! Poetry is fun because there is no right or wrong way to write them. Yes there are patterns for certain kinds of poetry, but you can feel free to make something totally different. Try keeping a journal to keep your poems together, and decorate the cover or fill pages between poems with drawings!

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