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11 yo dd wants to learn to write poetry

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Up to this point we really haven't done much writing poetry. We do read occasionally, but we don't write our own. But, today dd asked to learn to write it! I looked at IEW's Grammar of Poetry and it looks good, but it says it is for levels B and C (middle and High school levels?). I don't want to give her something too hard the first time and have her hate it. Does anyone have a good resource that explains how to write "real" poetry (dd's words) not acrostics and limericks?



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I'm so pleased your dd wants to write poetry! I write poetry and recently had the privilege of helping a young friend edit a poem she had written.


My hint is this. Well, it will turn into a few hints.


1. Teach her how to hear the pitch variations in what she has written. Meter is founded on pitch. She won't be able to fix meter problems unless she can hear meter problems, and to hear meter problems, she has to hear the pitches that she has written. She doesn't have to be able to NAME the pitches, just hear "up" and "down."


2. A good exercise is for her to use the scoops and slashes (correct names, anyone?--I think "scoop" is right but have my doubts about "slash")--these are the marks used to indicate lower and higher pitch. You apply them syllable by syllable. She can use tracing paper over a poem in a book, or make a row of marks on a separate piece of paper. Or if it's her own poem, she can write the marks in above the words. Once they are placed, then it's easier to analyze the metrical scheme of the whole poem.


3. The tricky part is being honest about the rhythm. The idea is not to hear in your head an idealized version, with the rhythm forced to be what you want it to be. The idea is to hear what most readers are likely to hear when they read it. You can't make readers respond differently than they do. (There may be some variation in what readers hear in their heads, but you can't make them hear everything the way you want them to hear it if your words and syntax don't naturally lend themselves to producing your intended effect.)


4. Having someone else read your poem out loud can be eye-opening!


5. If your daughter can analyze the rhythm of other poems correctly but hits a patch of one of hers that she just can't analyze, then probably there is a problem in that area of her poem that she needs to fix.


6. How to fix rhythms that aren't right? Word and phrase replacements if possible; larger recastings of ideas if needed. So a good vocabulary is a huge help in writing poetry. ("Dear, 'breathlessly' breaks your metrical scheme. You need a different three syllable word with the stress on the second syllable, not the first.'" Etc.!)


7. Not all interruptions to a metrical scheme are ugly. They can actually be very beautiful, and less "canned" sounding that something "perfect." But badly chosen metrical interruptions can also ruin a poem!



Well, this turned out rather long. I wish you and your daughter the best. HTH a bit.

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I looked at IEW's Grammar of Poetry and it looks good, but it says it is for levels B and C (middle and High school levels?).


We are using this, we are on lesson 15. My dd is 10 and she loves it. We are catching up to some of the vocab. words. Today she wrote them on flash cards and will review them for next week before she moves on. She has been doing 3 lessons a week and has learned a ton. I am very surprised how easy it was to implement this. I read the directions with her and then she does the stress and breves, scansion and writes her own poetry on her own. She has written some nice poems and said she didn't think she would have enjoyed it this much. Thumbs up here!

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