Monday, February 20, 2012

Manderson Snickafreed & Double Dactyls

Apples and Fairy Tales
(DA da da DA da da)
Photo by Amy LV

Students - today's poems are double dactyls, a funny (and tricky!) form invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal in 1961. This form has many rules which you can find online or in one of my favorite new books, IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND, by Steve Kowit. Here are the rules, as described in my book:

A double dactyl has 2 quatrains.
The first three lines of each quatrain are dactyls (DA da da DA da da, example is Hickory Dickory).
The final line of each stanza is a single dactyl and a single accented syllable (DA da da DA).
The first line is a nonsense phrase which must rhyme with the second line.
The second line must be a proper name or noun.
The second line of the second stanza must be a single word (a six syllable word with stresses on syllables one and 4).
The last line of each stanza must rhyme.

The Poetry Foundation and Wikipedia indicate that some purists hold to the Hecht's and Pascal's original rule that the sixth line of a double dactyl must be a word that has never before been used in line six a double dactyl. Many do not.  Mine do not, I'm sure!

On Saturday night, I found myself thumbing through this book and delighted in reading the double dactyls therein. That night, I wrote Manderson Danderson. Then, on Sunday, I was worried that I might not be able to do it I tried and wrote Hickafreed Snickafreed.

Here are some double dactyls from a 2009 Poetry Stretch with Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  This would be a brave challenge to try as a class. No need to finish the poem all at once either!  Simply begin it on a sheet of chart paper (I found it easiest to begin with line 2 or line 6) and then everyone can just keep thinking about it over a couple of weeks.  You might even wish to make a list of dactyls on a separate chart: CEN-ti-pede, UN-der-wear, SU-per-star....

Below you can see the drafts for my two double dactyls.  You'll see how in some places I marked the syllables and stresses to be sure that they were solid.

Double Dactyl Draft
by Amy LV

Another Double Dactyl Draft
by Amy LV

Yet Another Double Dactyl Draft 
by Amy LV

(My husband just asked how many of these I plan to write.  He said that he wonders if I am becoming obsessed.  Maybe so, maybe so.)

For a link to Hans Christian Andersen's THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, click here.  For the story of Johnny Appleseed, click here.  And for information about Dav Pilkey's CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS books, click here.

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks (my other blog) Ruth Ayres offers a look into her notebooks and questioning process.  Thank you, Ruth!

HAVE a good MONday now!

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  1. These are FABULOUS! They look really hard...but I might give them a try. April is already starting to loom...

  2. As Mary Lee said, these look really hard! But you did wonderfully in them, Amy. It looks like fun to find a topic, too. I love that ending on the Captain Underpants one, your final one.

  3. Love these! Especially Captain Underpants, ha! :D

  4. Doubledee Lisc-ee-ous!
    Damon Dean-anx-ee-ous
    Hopes he won't bite off more
    than he can chew.

    Double-ly drastic, he
    writes up a dactyl he
    hopes is brand new.