Friday, January 20, 2012

Poetry Friday & Patience

Oh No!
by Amy LV

Students - Strange to say, but I've always loved the rhyming sounds of alligator and elevator. I think they're just funny words, each with four syllables, each with the stress on the first syllable. This pair has kicked around in my head for quite a while and even made a cameo in a poem once. Well, today they're back in center stage!

Today's poem is what I might call a "fake advice" poem. It's a how-to poem of sorts (I know that many of you have written how-to books and articles) only this time, it's got a splash of imagination too. You might want to try this twist on procedural writing. Make up a fake set of directions, and set them to a poem beat!

As for word play, here's something to try. Choose a word with two or three syllables. Take the word brother for example. Now, write that word on the top of a page, and try to think of other words that have the same stresses, the same beats, the same emphasis on the same syllables. Don't even think about rhyme for now.

Let's look at the word brother together.

BROther has the same stresses as WEEKend and PRAIrie. When we read the words, we naturally lean heavily on that first syllable. Can you hear what I mean? Say those words aloud.  Can you think of some other two syllable words with the stress on the first syllable?  Make a list!

BROther has different stresses than forGET, rePLY, and exCUSE. Those three words have the accent on the second syllable, and our voices press down more heavily on that second syllable. Say these words out loud to hear those stresses. Can you think of some more two-syllable words with the second syllable accented?

Fun, isn't it? You might even want to keep lists in your notebook or charts in your classroom of such stresses; sometimes I do.

If you find some great words or would like to share something you discover, please do so in the comments or by e-mailing me at amy at amylv dot com.

Elaine is hosting today's Poetry Friday over at Wild Rose Reader! I'm so happy to be back into more frequent blog reading and writing (partially thanks to the 2012 Comment Challenge), and can't wait for the weekend when I can truly dive into this Poetry Friday Extravaganza!

(Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.)


  1. Good morning, Amy--

    Your poem has certainly elevated me! And of course you've gone beyond playing with alligator and elevator to do all kinds of things with her, that baby alligator. And furthermore, this is not fake advice; this is precisely what I am doing with my troubled little Ezra, who COULD do so much more in the classroom but just CAN'T. So we are lifting the pressure, the interrogation and the musts and requiring just some nice gentle unthreatening engagement. And isn't it funny how a few minutes of that leads to a few minutes of meaty self-challenge.

    Ready is everything.

    Happy Weekend!

  2. Like Heidi, it seems the poem means more than just a fear of elevators. It's wonderful. Your lines "When she's ready, elevate her/Kiss her./Hug her./Celebrate her" are just right! And thank you as always for the meaning-filled lesson in word work. I'll try it, and share it.

  3. Celebrate her indeed! An alligator on an elevator is such a fun thought all by itself. Then when you add the FEAR... I'm charmed! Thanks for sharing, Amy.

  4. Joyous poem and great advice (both in the poem and the post). I read so many manuscripts from poets who want to rhyme words that don't have the same meter. Just doesn't work!

  5. I love the rhymes, the fun, and dare I say it, the meaning.

  6. What a great prompt. I love the fake advice idea. Your poem reminds me of the Minarki/Sendak book, "No Fighting, No Biting." (It features two squabling siblings, alligators named Lightfoot and Quickfoot.)

  7. Nods head, agreeing with Heidi.

    I'm saving this post in Teaching Poetry folder. I can't wait to see what my students (and I) do with word gathering around syllable stresses! Can honestly say I've never tried that before!!

  8. without sounding like a dictator
    instead of being a mere spectator
    heed amy's advice and emulate her!

    good stuff, both in the poem and the prompt.

  9. I left this also as a reply to your comment on my site.
    Thank you for the compliment Amy, and for the recommendations too. I'd love to write the post, will wait & see what happens with the class & let you know. Early drafts of ideas are due next week. I'm excited to see what they choose!

  10. Such a fun poem. I probably should not admit that the one workbook page I vividly remember from elementary school years had to do with where to put accent marks. I remember it, I think, because I missed EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I still don't think I hear them very well!

  11. Adorable poem. I admire people who can really rhyme and tell a good story at the same time!

  12. Thank you everyone, for your generous comments!

    Linda - It would be a treat to feature your students' memoir poems! Have fun with them this week.

    And if anyone tries out the word lists and grows something interesting, please let me know!


  13. Amy, this little poem is exquisite. Color me impressed -- so delighted to have found you through Poetry Friday. I'm a follower now. I love working with more unusual words and finding clever rhymes, which isn't always easy (e.g., my poem "If I Were an Ocelot" -- challenging, but so much fun!). I'll be back to see what other gems you plan to scatter before us. :)