Students - did you figure out what this poem is about? I will play music for one moment to see if you've got it. Da Da Dum! Da Da Dum! Tra La Laaaaaaaaaa! If you guessed "quotation marks", then you are correct!
One of the most exciting moments in writing a poem is discovering the initial comparison, concept, or magical thought. I love the idea of quotation marks flying around speakers' words in books. It's so cute, so adorable, so personified! Once those little punctuation sparrows flew into my head, there was no shooing them out.
Except what? Well, the first draft of this poem contained one of my favorite rhymes: words and birds. And while this is not a serious problem, I went back into the archives to see how many poems I have written using this exact rhyme. There were six poems rhyming words and birds, or word and bird, not including this one.
Somehow, this drove me crazy. What was wrong with me that I keep using these same two over and over again? Back to the writing board, searching for another rhyming word for word or words, I visited RhymeZone and was tickled to find the first entry was blurred. Hooray! Not only would this break an old pattern, it would also create an image of flying marks without using the word bird at all.
Below, you can see one of my favorite baby-book-gifts. BLESS US ALL, by Cynthia Rylant, spins a cozy prayer about families and animals for each month of the year. Two of these poems contain the rhyming words stories and glories. I remember noticing this years ago and marveling at how my favorite writers have favorite words, and sometimes we can spot them! And one of my most favorite poets of all, the 1985 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, Lilian Moore, likes words and birds too. She rhymes them in her lovely poem, "Poets Notice Everything".
Students - try reading several books by one author and keeping an ear/eye out to see if your author has a favorite word that keeps showing up. Check your own writing too. Do you have favorites? If you do, be sure to read carefully asking, "Is this truly the right word for this spot, or am I simply leaning on an old favorite?" If it's the right word, keep it. But if you are just coming back to something easy, a word that drips out without effort, be willing to let it go as you seek the perfect word for your moment or thought.
Today's poem is also a riddle poem. It can be tempting to title our works with the most obvious idea that comes to mind. In fact, I almost titled this poem, "Quotation Marks". Then I began wondering, "What if I don't tell what this poem is about? Will the reader know? Won't it be more fun to allow the reader to discover the meaning?" I do hope that you were able to figure it out.
"Inky Flyers" continues The Poem Farm's series of punctuation poems. Somehow it is more interesting to write about those little dots and blips than I ever imagined!
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