Kenning Poetry

In January, I had to pull my younger son, The Chef, out of school. It was a difficult decision and the boy I pulled out was a ghost of the child he had been in August. To rekindle his spark for learning, we focused on history and science. Staring at 500 AD, we delved deep into Vikings, Angles and Saxons. As one of our projects, we wrote Anglo-Saxon riddle poems.

An Anglo-Saxon riddle poem has no set rhythm or rhyme scheme. Instead it has 3 key characteristics:
1) Caesura – a natural break in the middle of the line
2) Alliteration – the stressed syllable after the caesura repeats the first or second stressed syllable of the poem
3) Kennings – a noun or combination of nouns that obliquely describes what a thing is or does or feels like. A couple of examples of kennings: mouse hunter (cat), whale road (sea), storm of swords (battle), sky vermin (bat).

Tolkein’s Lament for the Rohirim loosely follows this poetic form:

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?

To see a couple of Anglo-Saxon riddle poems (and even hear them read in old English) visit the Swarthmore English Department where Riddle 45 is wonderfully bookish. Here’s an except from riddle 25:

I am man’s treasure, taken from the woods,
Cliff-sides, hill-slopes, valleys, downs;
By day wings bear me in the buzzing air,
Slip me under a sheltering roof–sweet craft.

Did you guess that the first part of Riddle 25 is about honey?
Try your hand at The Chef’s riddle poem:

I am fire serpent, the deadly light,
master of flame. Some call me
treasure hoarder, fire claws.
I’m myth but a legend.
I rise with the fire. I am
the air skier. Who am I?

While you are puzzling it out, please head on over and visit our Poetry Friday friends:

Worm-gatherers (Early Birds)

Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference shares her found poem experiment inspired by a Neil deGrasse Tyson speech.

Julieanne at To Read To Write To Be has an original poem about parenthood inspired by this week’s Teacher Poets workshop.

All early birds should definitely appreciate Violet Nesdoly’s bird-inspired original poem.

At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt Forrest Esenwine shares some things worth saying. Also, be sure to visit his last National Poetry month post — it is a fascinating look at thinking like a poet.

Myra at Gathering Books shares her review of the MG novel Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and the book’s connection to William Carlos Williams’ “The Descent.”

Wrapping up National Poetry Month, Jone at Check It Out shares some wonderful student poetry.

At A Teaching Life, Tara commemorates her beautiful oak by sharing “Woodsman, Spare That Tree”.

Diane Mayr is off to the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. If you don’t see her there, be sure to visit her at Random Noodling where she shares a history poem. You can also visit her at Kurious Kitty where she shares a poem by Sharon Olds or at KK’s Kwotes where she shares a quote by Sharon Olds.

At Author Amok, Laura Shovan has a guest post by Toby Speed. For Toby, who recently moved to New Hampshire, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has taken on new and special significance.

At Keri Recommends, enjoy a postcard from one of Jone’s poetry project participants.

Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty shines her spotlight on Laura Purdie Salas and challenges us to attempt a chinquapin.

At The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater concludes her April Poetry Project with an original poem — “Thrift Store Goodbye”.

Mid-morning coffee break

Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town is at home recovering from dengue fever. Visit her blog to read a dengue-fever inspired poem. Ruth, we all hope you feels better soon!

At TeacherDance, Linda Baie is sharing one of Jone’s postcard project poems and an original poem about seeds.

If spring is bugging you and you need a haiku, visit Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect has some rainy day poems by Eve Merriam to share. We’ve had rain for a week now so I can really relate to the first poem.

If you want more foul-weather rhymes, visit Liz Steinglass who shares her poem “Dark Skies” and another one of Jone’s postcard project poems.

Laura Purdie Salas shares a wonderful poem by Marilyn Singer about the rainforest.

At Reading to the Core, Catherine shares some writing advice in poetic from by Ron Koertge.

Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading shares another delightful postcard from Jone’s postcard project and an original poem, “Free”.

If you need a melancholy poem with a happy ending, visit Karen Edmisten’s blog.

Lorie Ann Grover has two original haiku to share.

At Bildungrsroman there’s a Carl Sandburg poem for your enjoyment.

Collette Bennett at Used Books in Class celebrates the end of National Poetry Month.

Midnight snack

Emily Jiang shares an original poem about the pipa – a Chinese lute.

At Teaching Authors, JoAnn wraps up National Poetry Month with links to all the read-alouds and Wednesday Writing Workouts. On her personalblog, JoAnn offers up an original poem, “Mittens in May”. If you’ve had a very cold spring, you will really appreciate her poem.

Cathy at Merely Day by Day shares a poem about how Ohio is beautifully colored with blossoming trees.

Please welcome newcomer, Kelly. At her blog Project Chameleon, she writes looking at poems and reimagining the titles into something new.

Ok. I’m now caught up as of 8am on Saturday. Have a lovely Derby Day, all.

And, yes, everyone guessed right. The Chef’s riddle poem is about a dragon.

Next week’s host is the lovely Jama Rattigan over at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

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Poetry Friday Early Birds!

Welcome, Poetry Friday early birds — leave a comment and I’ll compile your entries with the post when it goes live tomorrow morning!

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Poetry Friday: Snow Day Edition

My kids are waking up to the news that there’s no school today because of the ice/snow storm.

Snowflake


NEX 5R — Minolta Rokkor 100mm Macro — f/4.5, 1/125s, ISO 1600

I whispered the news in Gearbox’s ear and the happy almost-teen went back to sleep. My youngest will soon wake up, jubilant. He’ll be running around the house dancing a jig, like Emily Dickinson.

Snow flakes
By Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town –
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down –
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig –
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!

For more Poetry Friday, visit Robin Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

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Poetry Friday — holiday feast edition

Inviting a Friend to Supper by Ben Johnson

Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I
Do equally desire your company;
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come, whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
The entertainment perfect, not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectify your palate

We have a feast of poetry for you this week. The best part? You can eat all you want because this feast has zero calories but will leave you feeling full and happy.(you can read Johnson’s full poem over at Poetry Foundation.)

Appetizers (haiku)

Carmela at Teaching Authors shares a thank you note to school librarians written in the form of a Thanku poem.

Matt Forest is celebrating the transition between fall and winter with a haiku.

Robyn Hood Black is continuing her “We Haiku Here” series featuring speakers from the recent Haiku Society of America regional haikufest in Atlanta. Up today: poet, speaker, college instructor, and editor Laurence Stacey.

Joy at Poetry for Kids also brings us a Thanksgiving haiku.

At On Point, Lorie Ann has a haiku, Santorini Sunset.

Salad Course (seasonal poems)

If you’re on the road this holiday season, you’ll appreciate Mary Lee Hahn’s contribution this week at A Year In Reading.

At Father Goose, Charles Ghinga celebrates winter.

If you’re spending a lot of time in the kitchen, be sure to head over to The Drift Record where Julie shares a Mary Czybist poem. Mary was just named the 2013 winner of the National Book Award for Poetry.

The Main Entree (Thanksgiving poems)

Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference has a several poems from Giving Thanks.

At Tapestry of Words, Becky points us to some books of Thanksgiving poetry and gives a wonderful example of a non-fiction Thanksgiving poem.

Diane Mayr has a smorgasbord for us: at Random Noodling she has an original poem about the Pilgrim women at the first Thanksgiving feast; at Kurious Kitty she presents us with a Valerie Worth Thanksgiving poem; and, in remembrance of the day president John F. Kennedy died, KK’s Kwotes has a quote by JFK.

Michelle Barnes has a clever little greeting card poem about something she’s grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Steven Winthrow at Crackles of Speech has an original poem about giving thanks called Rockhoppers.

Side Dishes (non-fiction, historical)

Laura Shovan at Author Amok has a new post in her kill-your-darlings series. It features an original poem “Freedom Seekers”.

Jone at Check It Out is celebrating one of the CYBILS non-fiction books.

Dessert (sweets and sweet writing projects)

Violet Nesdoly is thinking ahead to Christmas. She has an original poem with a hidden message — can you find it?

Hurry over to Alphabet Soup where Jama is featuring Alphabet Trucks by Samantha Vamos and Ryan O’Rourke. She is offering up lovely, edible trucks — dibs on the chocolate truck.

Amy at The Poem Farm has a poem inspired by a linty pair of pants and an old favorite book.

Alice at Supratentorial shares a writing project she did with her boys based on The Months by Sara Coleridge.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is writing poems with her 6th graders featuring repetition.

Cocktails and toddys (Friday additions)

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe is posting from Boston today with a piece about Amy’s electromagnetic field.

This week at Keri Recommends, Keri shares a book trailer that caused her to fall in love with a book before she has seen it.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect offers an original villanelle for the holiday.

Let’s give a big Poetry Friday welcome to a new poster – Max at Teaching from Behind! Max shares an original poem
about waking up to the first real snow of winter and sharing it with his three-year-old daughter.

At The Drawer of M.M. Socks we have a poem called The Artist of Field 122.

Mariletta Robinson is letting us know what Antoine the Anteater is thankful for.

At Bildungsroman we get the first stanza of The Dream by George William Russell.

Liz Steinglass has an apology poem today.

And at Gathering Books we’re in for a yummy fairy treat from Jane Yolen.

Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town has a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem today called “Merry Autumn.”

At Mainely Write, Donna shares an original cold weather poem – “Rosy”.

Dia Calhoun has a poem inspired by a photo of a sailboat that caught the light on a dark bay.

Betsy at I Think in Poems shares an original poem about poetry singing a song as the sun sets in red.

Enjoy some Charlotte Zolotow at Semicolon.

*** Good Morning, Poetry Peeps. I think I’m all caught up so if I missed your entry… drop me a line. I’m looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea later today and really getting to enjoy this poetry feast ***

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Poetry Friday Early Birds!

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.
- Shel Silverstein

Hello PF Early Birds!
Please feel free to leave a comment with a link to your blog. I’m posting this week’s Poetry Friday entry at 7am on Friday so all comments I get before 6am Friday will make it into that first post. After that I’ll add comments as the day goes on…

I’ve been busy unpacking and settling my kids into their new school but I’ve missed y’all.

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Eeek!

I’m hosting Poetry Friday this week and I’m so excited. I’ve been so busy getting everyone settled into our new house I haven’t had a chance to do anything for myself so it will be so nice to visit with everyone on Friday — like a day-long coffee party with all my poetry friday friends.

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Soft rains

Cover, Sheinkin's BombGearbox needs to read a non-fiction book this summer. Being a huge Sheinkin fan, he picked Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. It arrived in the mail today and I immediately stole it and read it before he could get his hands on it because that’s the kind of mother I am.

Bomb, like other Sheinkin books, brings an era to life in a way that is both fascinating and informative. Sheinkin has a rare gift; his non-fiction is as gripping as a novel you’d bring to the beach. The story follows three threads: the attempt to make the bomb, the attempt to keep the Germans from making the bomb, and the attempt by the Soviets to steal the bomb technology.

While most of the story is a tense and thrilling spy thriller, the descriptions of the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are painful and effectively convey the horror of the bomb blast:

“Just as my brother reached out a catch the dragonfly, there was a flash. I felt like I’d suddenly been blown into a furnace… When I opened my eyes after being flung eight yards, it was still as dark as if I were facing a wall painted black.” [p195]

This eye-witness quotation reminded me of Ray Bradbuy’s post-apocalyptic short story “There will come soft rains”. In Bradbury’s dystopian short, a heavily automated house goes about it’s daily tasks of getting a family ready for the day long after the family is gone. Eventually the reader learns that the family was killed in a nuclear blast:

“The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick up flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him, a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.”

In the story, the house recites a Sarah Teasdale poem that was inspired by the horrors of WW1:

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Amy at The Poem Farm.

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Whirlwind

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. My youngest got injured. My oldest got sick. We found out we were moving and had to get our house ready to put on the market. Somewhere in there was a kiddo’s birthday that got woefully neglected and a wedding anniversary that got totally ignored. The end of the whirlwind is still miles away, but today, for just an afternoon, I’m in the eye of the storm. We put an offer on a beautiful old house today. If it comes through, the whirlwind picks up again. Next comes the moving. The packing and unpacking. The settling in. The painful goodbyes and awkward hellos.

When life gets crazy, I think about the Robert Frost poem that we read from at our wedding, “The Master Speed”

The Master Speed
By Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have a speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will.
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

I could use a little of that “power of standing still” right now.

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2013 Progressive Poem

2013 Progressive Poem
Irene Latham’s fabulous Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is pausing here today; tomorrow Diane at Random Noodling brings it into the final stanza!

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.

And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencil’s still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the coda’s cadence.

To see more of the poem’s progression, visit the Progressive Poem participants:
Day 1: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Day 2: Joy Acey
Day 3: Matt Forrest
Day 4: Jone McCulloch
Day 5: Doraine Bennett
Day 6: Gayle Krouse
Day 7: Janet Fagal
Day 8: Julie Larios
Day 9: Carrie Finison
Day 10: Linda Baie
Day 11: Margaret Simon
Day 12: Linda Kulp
Day 13: Catherine Johnson
Day 14: Heidi Mordhorst
Day 15: Mary Lee Hayn
Day 16: Liz Steinglass
Day 17: Renee LaTulippe
Day 18: Penny Klostermann
Day 19: Irene Latham
Day 20: Buffy Silverman
Day 21: Tabatha Yeatts
Day 22: Laura Shovan
Day 23: Joanna Marple
Day 24: Katja Czaja
Day 25: Diane Mayr
Day 26: Robyn Hood Black
Day 27: Ruth Hersey
Day 28: Laura Purdie Salas
Day 29: Denise Mortensen
Day 30: April Halprin Wayland

 

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Poetry Friday: March Madness Edition

When I faced down ‘androgynous’ in the first round of Poetry March Madness last year, I was sure that any word Ed threw at me this year would be easier. But I was wrong. This year I drew ‘bereft’. It’s a fine word, but I live in Connecticut. And ‘bereft’ is a raw word for me. A sharp, painful word. It brings to mind tiny coffins and sobbing parents. Not an easy word to write a children’s poem about. So I really, really, really struggled this year. Hours before my entry was due I was still fussing with several unsatisfactory entries.

My first finalist was a poem about the yearly mastery tests:

The school’s bereft of noise,
of running feet,
of shouting voices,
of raised hands,
enthusiasms,
and laughter.

Must be testing week.

The second was a sappy poem for my husband:

spring
bereft of song
of yellow daffodils
of pink petals, falling
is more like spring
than I am me
without you

But the poem I was really trying to avoid writing was the following poem (still in a very rough stage). Originally it had bereft in the 2nd to last line…

Snowflakes

Patiently the 6th graders fold the
paper squares six times and, laughing,
cut angles to match the
poorly printed diagrams. Holding
back tears I guide a hand
making a center star, thinking,
how can we make stars
when the night has lost so many.

To vote in the first round, go to Think, Kid, Think.
For more Poetry Friday, visit Check It Out.

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