Saturday, April 7, 2018

Poem #7 - How-To Structure

Welcome to my 2018 National Poetry Month Project! I love projects!
It is wonderful to find so many folks are joining in at blogs and elsewhere. 
All are welcome!

This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion.  Every day I will highlight a new poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.

My hope is that some readers might also choose to dive deeply into writing about 1 Subject 30 Ways, to stick with one subject for a few days or for a whole month, approaching it from a variety of perspectives, in a multitude of structures, and with many playful word explorations.

Here is a list of this month's poems so far:

And's technique.

How-To Poem Drafting
Photo by Amy LV

Students - When we think of how-to - or procedural - writing, we often think about information articles and books.  Yet a poem can be shaped in any structure, and sometimes poems take the form of how-to or advice writing.  At times these poems follow a step-by-step format, and at times they are more loose, just as information books are sometimes organized by steps (think cookbooks) and at other times are organized less strictly (think advice books about friendship).

For my Orion series, it felt natural to teach a reader how to find Orion. After all, everyone wishes to do this.  I could have been more scientific, pointing out particular stars and constellations, but as Orion is rather simple to see, I instead focused on the experience.  I will return to some of those other ideas in future poems.

You will note that this poem is sonnet-y, though not a complete Italian - or Petrarchan - sonnet. An Italian sonnet - or Petrarchan sonnet - goes like this:

Octave: ABBA ABBA 
Sestet: CDE CDE

This poem's rhyme scheme goes like this:

Octave: ABBA CDDC 
Sestet: EFG EFG

I do love sonnets and even sonnet variations.

In my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS, I highlight how-to structure with a poem by Michael Salinger. The title of his poem (page 109) is "How to walk around the block."   The two student poet mentors (page 112) are Connor M. with "Sledding" and James Q. with "How to Sleep."  Thank you to these poets, and thank you to the teachers of the student poets in this book!

Remember, you can connect with all kinds of poetry goodness happening throughout April 2018 at my introductory National Poetry Month post HERE.

I am hosting Poetry Friday today, a roundup of many poetry goodnesses throughout the Kidlitosphere.  Please visit these blogs of poetry lovers and know that you are welcome to join us any Poetry Friday throughout the year.

On Sunday, April 8 at 11:59pm, I will draw a winning name of a commenter on yesterday's post. This person will win a copy of POEMS ARE TEACHERS, compliments of Heinemann!  I will announce the winner on Monday.

See you tomorrow...with personification!


Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Now you have me all excited to go Orion hunting! Will let you know when I do! For my How-To poem today I dusted off my soapbox, which I don't climb up on often.

  2. I like thinking about experiential and pragmatic ideas in poems. I especially like your emphasis on viewing Orion w/ out technology. It reminds me of Emerson.

  3. I love the idea of being still and allowing Orion's voice tell me what to do. I feel such pleasure when I see him every night. Thanks, Amy, it's a good voice. I love the "turn off your worries. Turn off the phone."

  4. Yup. Orion and I have had many early-morning-in-the-dark conversations. He never judges.

  5. "One in life, one in lore." Perfect.

  6. Each day your poems invite us (and our students) to lean in and learn more. This will be my lesson on Monday. I love that I am teaching about Orion as well as poetry.

  7. I'm loving these daily poems about Orion. Thanks for creating the stories! and for sharing them.