Creating a Poem Together
To demonstrate the process of what goes into creating a poem, thewhole class collaborated to write a poem together.In the previous lesson, the “revising” lesson, using the dandelionpoem, we talked about rhyming patterns. From that, we devised ourown rhyme scheme. As we started developing the scheme, I noticed itwas a loose form of a sonnet (a form whose parameters have beenmuch loosened in American poetry in the last 40 years.) As a result, wemade up our own rhyme scheme for a sonnet.
Sonnets are usually 14 lines long, have an introduction of an idea, a volta (a turning of events) and then aconclusion. That’s the basic structure. There are many types of rhyme schemes (Petrarchan,Shakespearan, Spenserian) or you can use no rhymepattern at all.Different rhythmic patterns can apply as well, such asiambic or anapestic. Rhythm is a more challenging aspectto teach to younger students, so I just talk about keepingthe “flow” of the poem going. If most of our lines aremedium length, we don’t want to have one that is veryshort, unless it is for a specific purpose (and not justbecause we can’t think of anything!)Often the subject of a sonnet is a pastoral scene, or love,or love in a pastoral scene, but it doesn’t have to be aboutthose things, either.14 lines is a good length for a class collaboration because it isn’t tooshort, ensuring everyone can contribute, but it isn’t too long, so itwon’t take more than two days to complete. The students had their commonplace books open so they could writedown the lines as I wrote them down on the overhead projector. I likedoing this in old fashion marker and paper/OHP so that students cansee the crossing out, the rearranging, the scribbling, the doodling, etcthat goes into drafting a poem.I asked them all to think of a starting line then chose one person toshare theirs. We built our poem off of that one line.