Sponsored Links

 

How to Recite a Poem Like an Expert

If you would like to recite a poem for an audience – whether you are reciting a poem that you wrote yourself, or a poem by someone else – there are many different ways to go about it. Here are some of the things that will help you learn to recite poetry like an expert.

Choose a Poem that “Speaks to You”

When choosing a poem to recite, be sure to pick a poem that you really like. The more you like the poem, the more fun you will have learning and reciting it. Whether it’s a funny poem, a serious poem, a sad poem, a sports poem, a spooky poem, a jump-rope rhyme, or even a love poem, if it’s a poem that “speaks to you” – a poem that makes you feel something – you are going to enjoy sharing it with your audience.

It’s Okay to YELL!

There are lots of “right ways” to recite a poem, but in my opinion there is only one “wrong way.” The wrong way to recite a poem is to use your normal, everyday, “inside voice.” When you use your “inside voice,” you only speak loud enough for those closest to you to hear what you are saying. When you recite a poem, you need to speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you.

Of course, if you really want to mess it up, you can also hold the poem in front of your face so no one can see your lips moving, making it that much harder for people to hear you. Oh, and look down at your shoes. When you speak, your voice travels in whatever direction you are facing. If you are looking at your shoes, your shoes can hear you really well, but other people might not.

So the first and most important thing to know when you want to recite a poem is that you really need to face your audience and use your “outside voice,” even if you are inside. In other words, it’s okay to YELL when reciting a poem. If anyone ever asks you why you were yelling when you recited a poem, please tell them Kenn Nesbitt said it was okay.

Memorize the Poem You Plan to Recite

To recite a poem well, it’s important to have it firmly committed to memory. If you don’t have the poem memorized, you are more likely to make mistakes when reciting it, even if you have it written on a piece of paper in front of you. Memorizing it will help make your recitation as good as possible.

I find that the best way to memorize a poem is to read a printed copy out loud as many times as possible. Depending on the length of the poem, you may have to read it out loud 10 or 20 times, or possibly even more, but each time you read a poem out loud, you will remember a little more of it.

How to memorize a poem:

  1. Get a printed copy of the poem.
  2. Look at the poem and read it out loud.
  3. Turn it over so you can’t see it.
  4. Recite as much of it as you can remember, from the beginning.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you can recite the entire poem from memory.

Other Ways to Recite a Poem

While it’s okay to just YELL when you recite a poem, here are several other things you can do that might make it even better:

  • Look for the voice of the poem, and speak in that voice. In other words, if it’s a poem about a cowboy, see if you can put on a cowboy accent. If it’s a poem about a monster, try using the scariest monster voice you can. If it’s a poem about a baby, an old person, or just some crazy character, think of what that person might sound like and try to speak in their voice.
  • Rap the poem. Some poems have a rhythm built into the words. When you’re read a jump-rope rhyme, or any other rhythmical poem, you may find that it’s suitable for rapping. If you want to have even more fun with it, try reciting it to a drum beat or to music. Watch this video for an example how I recite poems to music: http://youtu.be/CkoOSfNjc40
  • Recite it with a friend. Many poems have more than one voice. That is, a poem might have different speaking parts – such as the narrator, a mother or father, a teacher, a child, etc. – making it easy to split up and be read by two or more people. Even if it’s not, perhaps you and a friend could take turns reading every other line.
  • Put on a play. If a poem tells a small story, you can perform it in much the same way that you can perform a play. You can create sets and props, and even wear costumes. Make it a drama! Or a comedy! Or a musical! Visit this link for an example of how a poem can be turned into a play: http://youtu.be/Meyq2pgCG-g
  • Run around, wave your hands, say it like you mean it. Don’t just limit yourself to the ideas I’ve given above. Recite the poem in any way that seems best to you. If that means sitting in a chair, or jumping up and down, or stomping back and forth, or even dancing, that’s okay. Just put some feeling into it and “read it like you mean it” to give the best performance you can.

Have Fun!

However you decide to recite a poem, the most important thing is that you have fun doing it. So pick a poem, memorize it, practice reciting it a few different ways to see what works best, and then have fun sharing it with your audience!

Video: My Hamster Has a Skateboard

A few months ago, I was a guest on Renee LaTulippe’s terrific children’s poetry blog, No Water River. While I was there I recited the poem “My Hamster Has a Skateboard” from my book The Tighty-Whitey Spider: And More Wacky Animal Poems I Totally Made Up. Just in case you missed it, I thought I would post the video of the poem here as well. I hope you enjoy it!

Rhyme Schemes – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses several poems from Poetry4kids.com to show how to identify the rhyme scheme of a poem. Students will analyze the poems to determine the rhyme schemes of each.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Rhyming words are words that sound the same at the ends, such as cat / hat, or jumping / bumping.

When a poem has rhyming words at the ends of its lines, these are called “end rhymes.” Here is an example of end rhyme:

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.

A “rhyme scheme” is a way of describing the pattern of end rhymes in a poem. Each new sound at the end of a line is given a letter, starting with “A,” then “B,” and so on. If an end sound repeats the end sound of an earlier line, it gets the same letter as the earlier line.

Here are three slightly different cat poems, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first is AABB, the second is ABAB, and the third is ABCB):

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.
My cat is fat.
I like my cat.
A
A
B
B

 

My cat is nice.
My cat is fat.
My cat likes mice.
I like my cat.
A
B
A
B

 

My cat is gray.
My cat is fat.
My cat is cute.
I like my cat.
A
B
C
B

 

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poems by Kenn Nesbitt.
  2. For each poem, identify the rhyme scheme and write it below the poem.

Mr. Brown the Circus Clown

Mr. Brown, the circus clown
puts his clothes on upside down.
He wears his hat upon his toes
and socks and shoes upon his nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

My Penmanship is Pretty Bad

My penmanship is pretty bad.
My printing’s plainly awful.
In truth, my writing looks so sad
it ought to be unlawful.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

All My Great Excuses

I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer’s on the blink.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

Today I Had a Rotten Day

Today I had a rotten day.
As I was coming in from play
I accidentally stubbed my toes
and tripped and fell and whacked my nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

Podcast

Subscribe to this Podcast

Bloome the Human Boomerang

I’m Bloome, the human boomerang.
I soar up in the sky.
My skill is quite remarkable.
It’s fun to watch me fly.

To start, I grab my ankles
and I lift me off the ground,
then swing myself in circles
till I’m spinning ’round and ’round.

And when I’m spinning fast enough
I say a little prayer,
then heave myself with all my might
and launch me in the air.

I fly a giant circle
and return right back to me.
Except today I missed and now
I’m stuck up in a tree.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Podcast

Subscribe to this Podcast

The Armpit of Doom

Today I walked into my big brother’s room,
and that’s when I saw it: The Armpit of Doom.
I wasn’t expecting The Armpit at all.
I shrieked and fell backward and grabbed for the wall.
The Armpit was smelly. The Armpit was hairy.
The Armpit was truly disgusting and scary.
I wanted to vomit. I wanted to cry.
I wanted to flee from it’s all-seeing eye.
My skin started crawling with goosebumps and chills.
My brain began screaming to head for the hills.
I tried to escape but I knew I could not.
In horror, I found I was glued to the spot.
“Will somebody help me!?” I started to shout,
till fumes overcame me and made me pass out.
And that’s why I’m here in this hospital room;
it’s all on account of The Armpit of Doom.
I’m still feeling shaken. I’m queasy and pale,
but lucky I lived and can tell you my tale.
So take my advice… If you ever go near
your big brothers room, bring a whole lot of gear:
A gas mask and goggles, a helmet and shield,
or maybe a space suit that’s perfectly sealed.
And then, only then, when you’re fully prepared,
step in very slowly and hope you’ll be spared.
But, if you’re afraid of the Armpit of Doom,
stay far, far away from your big brother’s room.

–Kenn Nesbitt

New Book: I’m Growing a Truck in the Garden

I'm Growing a Truck in the GardenI’m pleased to announce that my newest book, I’m Growing a Truck in the Garden is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Written especially for young readers in the UK, this collection of weird and wonderful poems, with fun and quirky illustrations by Sophie Burrows, follows one boy through his day as he plays with his friends and creates havoc along the way.

Pre-order your copy now and be the first to receive it when it arrives on September 3!

Podcast

Subscribe to this Podcast

Jake the Yo-Yo Maker

I’m Jake, the yo-yo maker.
Making yo-yos is my thing.
It only takes a chunk of wood
and several feet of string.

To try to make sure every
single yo-yo is unique,
I make some from mohagany,
and turn some out in teak.

I fashion some from plastic,
and I build some out of brass.
I sculpt some out of stone,
or manufacture them from glass.

A scrap of quilted fabric here.
A shred of metal there.
I even made a yo-yo, once,
from purple underwear.

Then, when I’m done constructing them,
I sell them on the street.
I’d say that making yo-yos
is a job that can’t be beat.

It brings such joy and happiness;
I don’t see many frowns.
But, just like any other job,
it has it’s ups and downs.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Alliteration and Assonance – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses the poem “My Puppy Punched Me in the Eye” by Kenn Nesbitt, from the book My Hippo Has the Hiccups to demonstrate alliteration and assonance, two common poetic devices that involve repetition of sounds. Students will analyze the poem to find as many examples of alliteration and assonance as they can.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Alliteration is when a writer repeats the consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. For example, in “My puppy punched me in the eye,” the words “puppy punched” are alliterative because they both begin with “p.”

Assonance is when a writer repeats the vowel sounds in the stressed syllables of words. For example, in the line ”My rabbit whacked my ear,” the words “rabbit whacked” are an example of assonance because they both contain a “short a” sound on the stressed syllable.

Alliteration and assonance do not have to have the same letters; just the same sounds. So for example, “falling phone” is  alliterative and “flying high” is assonant, because they repeat the same sounds even though they don’t repeat the same letters.

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poem.
  2. Underline the alliterative words in each line.
  3. Circle the assonant words in each line.

Hint: Sometimes words can be both alliterative and assonant.

My Puppy Punched Me In the Eye

My puppy punched me in the eye.
My rabbit whacked my ear.
My ferret gave a frightful cry
and roundhouse kicked my rear.

My lizard flipped me upside down.
My kitten kicked my head.
My hamster slammed me to the ground
and left me nearly dead.

So my advice? Avoid regrets;
no matter what you do,
don’t ever let your family pets
take lessons in kung fu.

–Kenn Nesbitt

 

Podcast

Subscribe to this Podcast

A Shark is a Pet

A shark is a pet
that you don’t want to get.
There is nothing less fun than a shark.
He doesn’t have fur.
He won’t cuddle or purr,
and he never takes walks in the park.

Instead he just stares
and intensely prepares,
as he circles and waits in the dark,
to nibble your nose
and your fingers and toes,
for his bite is much worse than his bark.

–Kenn Nesbitt