Tons of puns

Hi everyone,

My thanks to Terry Bond for passing this one along to me:

Q
What does a thesaurus eat for breakfast?
A
A synonym roll.

Terry has been guilty of such wry word play in the past. In my book with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett called PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY, you’ll find a poem called “Groanosaurs”. At the time I was working on the poem I shared it with Terry, who promptly doubled the number of puns. The final poem reads like this:

GROANOSAUR TEST, 2 voices
(Terry Bond, who loves puns, wrote half of this poem. DLH)

(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur in a hurry?
(class)
A dino-scurry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur in a snowstorm?
(class)
A dino-flurry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur at a funeral?
(class)
A dino-bury.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur who likes spicy food?
(class)
A dino-curry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur stuck in tar?
(class)
A dino-tarry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur digging a hole?
(class)
A dino-quarry.
(teacher)
What do you call a dinosaur pulling a wagon?
(class)
A dino-lorry.
What do you call a dinosaur who takes this test?
(class)
A dino-sorry!

(c) 2009 by David L. Harrison
from PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY
Scholastic Teaching Resources

In the top 5 again

Hi everyone,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As I look at my WordPress report for 2014 I see that once again one of the most popular posts in my blog records was one from back on September 18, 2009 when I introduced a book of poems for two or more voices called PARTNER POEMS. I wrote the poems and Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett wrote the content and classroom activities. It was published as a Scholastic Best Practices in Action title and erroneously identified as a book for grades 4-6 because at the last minute they discovered they already had a book of partner poems for grades 2-4, which is the range for which we created the book. Our book continues to sell well
( http://www.amazon.com/Partner-Poems-Building-Fluency-Comprehension/dp/0545108764/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420041311&sr=8-1&keywords=partner+poems+for+building+fluency ) but now and then we’ve been criticized by a reader who is led by the misleading title to think we don’t know our audience.

Each year since I introduced the book, the post has been in the top 5 most popular for the year. In 2014, it was number 2 and number 4. I think the double ranking refers to different dates when I featured PARTNER POEMS. Here’s a poem from the collection called “Lollity Popity Day.” My thanks again to teachers who have used the poem to excite students to read and perform it. Here’s a picture by Patricia Cooley at Komensky School of two girls who made masks and entertained their schoolmates. I’m making a slight change in the poem to wish you more than a Lollity Popity Day. I wish you a Lollity Popity Year!

IT’S A LOLLITY POPITY YEAR

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity year.

IMG_1745
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity year.

IMG_1744
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity
talk with a friendity
sit on a lapity
play with your petity
happy-go-luckity year.

CHEERS!

IMG_1743

It’s a Lollity Popity Day

Hi everyone,

My poem for two voices called “It’s a Lollity Popity Day” appears in a book co-written by Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett, PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY, published by Scholastic.

Our new book

Our new book

I should point out that the book was written with grades 3-5 in mind. At the last minute Scholastic realized that they had another book with the same title for younger grades so they changed the title of ours to read Grades 4-6. We’ve taken some grief over this from teachers who bought the book expecting material for older students. As long as you know to use the book for younger children, it all works out.

The alternating voices build on the opening line.

(1st)
It’s a lollity popity day
(2nd)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity day.
(1st)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seektiy
read a good bookity day.
(2nd)
It’s a lollity popity
hide-and-go-seekity
read a good bookity
roll in the grassity day.

And so on. The fun is to begin reading slowly and increase speed with each new stanza. Both voices finish in a rush and shout “Hooray!”

I introduced the poem at this year’s poetry workshop in Honesdale. A few days ago one of the poets who attended, Patricia Cooley, brought it into her school in Illinois. Here’s Pat’s report.

We had a Lollity Popity Day at Komensky School today! Two of my students were so taken by David’s poem that they made lollipop puppets and went from classroom to classroom throughout the building – hamming it up and performing with a lot of voice and actions to each of his lines. The teachers loved it. David, I am attaching pics of their lollipops. Wish I could send pics showing how cute the students are, but I never post any pics showing their faces or names. You would have been proud of them!

Pat did share her young actors holding up their lollipity popity puppets and here they are. IMG_1744IMG_1745
IMG_1743
Pat

I am, of course, enormously pleased and proud of the girls behind those charming masks. Pat, thank you so much for introducing the poem and doing it in such a way that your kids saw the fun of it and had such a fine time. Many thanks!

David

Playing with meter

BULLETIN: Kay Logsdon took my sunset picture on yesterday’s post as inspiration for a lovely metaphorical piece on the sunsets of our lives. Please go over for a look. Thanks to Kay! http://foodchannel.posterous.com/the-sunsets-of-your-life

Hi everyone,

Returning to a recent conversation about setting up and sticking to metric patterns when writing in verse: I said that it’s important to maintain the established pattern to spare the reader from losing time trying to figure out how to scan the poem. Scholarly poets engage in serious debates about the underlying dynamics of poetic expression, but for most purposes it’s sufficient to decide on a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables for the idea at hand and not go wobbling off that track far enough or often enough to confuse the reader.

We’ve talked about the poetic foot and its most usual configurations of accented and unaccented elements.
u/ = iamb
/u = trochee
uu/ = anapest
/uu = dactyl
// = spondee
uu = pyrrhus

Armed with these tools, the verse writer can create a variety of meters. Spoken English is a mishmash of iambic and anapestic words and phrases seasoned with the occasional trochee and garnished, now and then, with a dactyl. You’d need to be listening to pick up the odd pyrrhus, if you don’t count “uh-huh,” but spondees pop up rather routinely, especially in such throw-away expressions as “good grief” or “you go” or “who knew.”

Because iambs come to mind so easily and often, a good many poets rely on the comfort of writing lines of iambic meter.
u/u/u/
u/u/u/
u/u/u/
u/u/u/

or

u/u/u/
u/u/u/
u/u/u/u/
u/u/u/

or

u/u/u/u/
u/u/u/u/
u/u/u/u/
u/u/u/u/

etc.

But there are so many other alternatives! Think of us as composers writing music for an ensemble of six instruments. To give them enough numbers for a concert, we’ll have to create variety. We may like the trumpet and drum best, but there are four other musicians sitting there waiting their turn to play.

I’m not talking about formulaic structures — limerick, villanelle, sonnet — or number of lines. I’m talking about using our six most important tools to create enough metrical variety that our concert won’t sound like (to me) so many of today’s musical groups: one basically indistinguishable from the next in terms of instrumentation, leaping ability, and decibels of delivery.

Here are two examples that show how we can sometimes mix meters for special affect. In “Helping Momma,” the first reader speaks in iambic lines: “We love to help our” (u/u/u). The second reader seems to be speaking in spondaic feet: “mom cook” (//). This makes an unusual and interesting break in the conversation between first and second voice.

Now run the lines together and it’s apparent that the first beat of the spondee is actually the last beat of the iamb that proceeded it.

We love to help our mom cook: u/u/u//

I borrowed the last beat of the foot (our mom) and put it to work as the first half of the concluding spondee. So do I now have an incomplete iambic foot for the first speaker or a partial spondee for the second speaker? I don’t know. What do you think? Does it matter which way we call it? What matters, to me, is that it works. It works because I stuck with the goofy little plan all the way through. In the end, the poem takes on a rhythm you could almost dance to, deep into the evening when people start snaking around the floor with their hands on the hips of the person in front of them.

HELPING MOMMA
(Opening lines from a poem in LEARNING THROUGH POETRY)

(1st voice)
We love to help our
(2nd voice)
mom cook.
(1st voice)
We think we do a
(2nd voice)
fine job.
(1st voice)
Our momma says we’re
(2nd voice)
good boys,
(1st voice)
But now and then we’re
(2nd voice)
big slobs.
***

The second example employs a similar tactic but it’s more complicated. Here I have two different speakers engaged in dialog. Big sis is cajoling while little sis snores on with her one word response. Big sister starts out pleasantly and conversationally. As in “Helping Momma,” the first line is 2 1/2 iambs long: “Good morning, Sweetie” (u/u/u) and the response line supplies the missing accent (“Snore”). In the completed line there is no spondee involved.

But follow the number of syllables big sister uses. As her vexation grows, so does the length of her warnings. She goes from 2 1/2 beats in the first line to 3 in the second to four in each of the next two lines. I let the meter waver a bit in favor of establishing a more realistic sounding big sis tirade.

Good morning, Sweetie! = u/u/u
Time to rise and shine. = /u/u/
Get up now or you’ll be late. = u//u/u/
Don’t make me have to ask again. = u/u/u/u/

If you’re counting syllables, she uses 5,5, 7, 8 as the coming storm brews. Also, as she becomes more forceful, her lines end on an accent — shine, late, again — which gives more oomph and irony to little sister’s one beat refrain, “Snore.”

WAKING UP SIS
(Opening lines of a poem in PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY)

(big sis)
Good morning, Sweetie!
(little sis)
snore
(big sis)
Time to rise and shine.
(little sis)
snore
(big sis)
Get up now or you’ll be late.
(little sis)
snore
(big sis)
Don’t make me have to ask again.
(little sis)
snore
***
When you go back through the verse poems in your files, check to see how much variety you’ve built into them. If too many have a sing-songy sameness about them, consider ways to create more distinctive meters.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi eveyone,

I wish you love, the kind you receive and the kind you give.

If you have a poem about love, I hope you’ll post it today to share with others. I’ll look for one of mine and post it shortly.

With warm wishes,

David

I promised to look for a love poem for this special day. How about this one from PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY? It’s written in two voices.

I LOVE YOU
(2 voices)

(1st)
I love you.

(2nd)
I love you too.

(1st)
I love you three.

(2nd)
I love you four.

(1st)
I love you lots.

(2nd)
I love you more.

(1st)
I love you first.

(2nd)
I love you longer.

(1st)
I love you louder!!!

(2nd)
I love you STRONGER!

(1st)
I do because
I said it first.

(2nd)
I do because
I said it last.

(1st)
I do because
I said it s-l-o-w.

(2nd)
I do because
Isaiditfast.

(1st)
I love you more than
One hundred thousand
Million billion
Sacks of sweets.

(2nd)
I love you more than
Two jillion trillion
Zillion quadrillion
Chocolate treats.

(1st)
I love you everything
Under the sun.

(2nd)
I love you everything
Plus one.

(1st)
I love you more
Than I can measure.

(2nd)
And I love you,
My truelove treasure.