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Exploring Poetry Forms


There are so many types of poems to explore! In my interview with Judith L. Roth on Wednesday (see my previous post), I asked her about the sonnet in her book. I didn’t realize that there was an English sonnet and an Italian sonnet (I learn a lot when I blog!).

According to Allan Wolf in his book, IMMERSED IN VERSE, a sonnet is a form of closed poetry. Wolf says, "No matter who writes a sonnet, as long as the poet follows the rules, the end result will look" the same on the page. He says writing the closed form poem “requires you to use your right brain—the creative side—to explore your subject while you use your left brain—the logical side—to follow the form’s rules properly.”

Another book for students on poetry that focuses on “writing poetry, not analyzing it,” is Ralph Fletcher’s POETRY MATTERS. I love this book. It’s very encouraging and helpful. The book includes examples of poems, many written by students. There are interviews and advice from well known children’s poets, including Kristine O’Connell George, Janet S. Wong, and J. Patrick Lewis. At the end is a list of recommended poetry books.

Sometimes you find advice or information about writing poetry in unexpected places. Another favorite book of mine is LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech. The teacher’s edition includes a 16-page teacher’s guide with tips on teaching poetry, poetry terms and concepts, writing activities and more.

If you’re like me, and didn’t really get into classic poetry in school (my focus was more left brain at that time, since I was planning a career in nursing), a good book to explore is AN INVITATION TO POETRY, edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. This book is a collection of 200 poems written by poets such as Robert Browning, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Longfellow, Walt Whitman and many more, chosen by American readers. It’s accompanied by a DVD featuring readings of many of the poems in the book, which are introduced by people from across the United States who talk about their connection to the poem.

I find myself wanting to re-read these and other books on my bookshelf! And maybe I’ll try some different forms of poetry myself.

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