Tag: poem

How to Write a Haiku

It is easy to learn to write a haiku, but it can take a lot of practice to learn how to do it well. This lesson will give you the basics for writing your own haiku. It’s up to you to practice by writing a lot of them so you will get very good at it.

What is a Haiku?

A haiku is an unrhymed three-line poem. It is based on a traditional Japanese poetic form. Though there are different ways to write haiku, the traditional pattern in English is to write the first and last lines with five syllables each, and the middle line with seven syllables. In other words, the pattern of syllables looks like this:

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables

Here’s another way to visualize the same thing:

1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 2 3 4 5

Most often, haiku poems are about seasons or nature, though you can write your own haiku about anything you like. If you don’t want to write about nature, and would prefer to write haiku about candy or sports, that is perfectly okay.

One more thing to keep in mind is that the last line of a haiku usually makes an observation. That is, the third line points out something about the subject you are writing about.

Let’s see how we can put these few rules together get your started writing your own haiku poems.

Haiku About Seasons

Let’s say that you decide to write your haiku about a season. First you will want to select a season: spring, summer, fall, or winter. I’ve decided to write a haiku about winter, and I know that in the last line I will want to make an observation. I want to say that winter is almost here, but we aren’t quite ready for the snow. Maybe it’s that we haven’t raked the leaves off the front lawn and we need to do it soon before it snows.

I want to say all of this, but I want to do it in a pattern of 5, 7, 5. So I might say something like this:

Winter is coming.
Snow will be arriving soon.
We should rake the leaves.

 If you count the syllables on your fingers as you read this poem, you will see that the lines have five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables, just as they should.

Haiku About Nature

If you decide to write a haiku about nature, you will have many more subjects to choose from. You could write about animals, plants, the sky, the ocean, streams, the wind, and so on. Start by selecting a topic, and then decide what you want to say; what observation you want to make about it.

For example, I have decided to write a haiku about my cat. One thing I notice about my cat is that he sleeps a lot. In fact, I’m pretty sure he sleeps almost all night and all day. I’m not sure how he can be so tired. In any case, here is my haiku:

Tired cat sleeps all night.
He needs lots of rest for a
Long day of napping.

 Funny Haiku

Just because most haiku poems are about seasons or nature doesn’t mean that’s all they can be about. If you want, you can even write funny haiku poems. One way to make a haiku funny is to have an unexpected last line. For example, if the last line says the opposite of what the reader expects, it becomes like the punchline of a joke. It also helps to write about a funny subject.

As an example, I decided it would be funny to write a haiku excuse for why I can’t turn in my homework. Here it is:

My homework is late.
My dog ate it this morning.
I sure like my dog.

 Notice that this ending is unexpected. Most readers would expect the poem to end with something like “can I turn it in tomorrow?” or “I’m mad at dog” or something like that. By saying “I sure like my dog,” I am telling the reader something they don’t expect, which will hopefully make them smile.

Getting Started Writing Haiku

To begin writing haiku poems, just follow these steps:

  1. Select a type of haiku. Decide if you are going to write a seasonal, nature, or other type of haiku.
  2. Pick a topic. Select one specific season, item in nature, or something else you are going to write about.
  3. Think about what is different about your last line. What observation do you want to make?
  4. Start writing.
  5. Don’t forget to count the syllables as you read to make sure you’ve got the right pattern.
  6. Finally, “center” your poem on the page like the poems in this lesson.
When you are all done writing your first haiku, see if you can write another one. And, most importantly, have fun!

How to Write a Diamante Poem

What is a Diamante?

A diamante – pronounced dee-uh-MAHN-tay – is an unrhymed seven-line poem. The beginning and ending lines are the shortest, while the lines in the middle are longer, giving diamante poems a diamond shape. “Diamante” is the Italian word for diamond, so this poetic form is named for this diamond shape.

Believe it or not, the diamante was invented just 40 years ago. It was created by an American poet named Iris McClellan Tiedt in 1969, and has become very popular in schools.

Also known as a “diamond poem” because of it’s shape, there are two different types of diamantes; synonym diamantes and antonym diamantes.

The Rules of a Diamante

There are just a few rules to writing a diamante:

  1. Diamantes are seven lines long.
  2. The first and last lines have just one word.
    The second and sixth lines have two words.
    The third and fifth lines have three words.
    And the fourth line has four words.
  3. Lines 1, 4, and 7 have nouns.
    Lines 2 and 6 have adjectives.
    Lines 3 and 5 have verbs.

Here’s an easy way to visualize all three rules:

Noun
Adjective, Adjective
Verb, Verb, Verb
Noun, Noun, Noun, Noun
Verb, Verb, Verb
Adjective, Adjective
Noun

In a synonym diamante, the nouns at the beginning and end are two words that mean basically the same thing. In an antonym diamante, the two nouns are opposites. Here are a couple of examples:

Synonym Diamante

In this diamante, the words “Monsters” and “Creatures” mean the same thing, so they are synonyms.

Monsters
Evil, Spooky
Howling, Shrieking, Wailing
Ghosts, Vampires, Goblins, Witches
Flying, Scaring, Terrifying
Creepy, Crawly
Creatures

Antonym Diamante

In this diamante, you might say that the words “Cat” and “Dog” are opposites, or “antonyms,” so this is an antonym diamante.

Cat
Gentle, Sleepy
Purring, Meowing, Scratching
Whiskers, Fur, Collar, Leash
Barking, Licking, Digging
Slobbery, Playful
Dog

Getting Started

To start writing a diamante, you first need to decide what thing you want to write about. The reason you want to pick a thing is that your first and last lines need to be nouns. In other words, your diamante will be about a noun, such as a “pencil” or a “pizza,” rather than about a verb, such as “jump” or an adjective like “smelly.” An easy thing to write about is something you like or something you see around you.

Next, you’ll want to decide whether you want to write a synonym diamante or an antonym diamante. If you want to write a synonym diamante, you’ll want to select another word that means the same thing as your subject. If you are going to write an antonym diamante, choose a word that is its opposite.

For this example, I will show you how to write an antonym diamante about the “sun,” and my second noun is “moon,” since the sun and the moon can be considered opposites.

Once you’ve chosen your two nouns, take a piece of paper and brainstorm as many words as you can that have to do with each of them. For example, make one column for each word and write down everything you can think of. You’ll want adjectives (descriptive words), verbs (action words), and even more nouns. Your lists should look something like this:

Sun

Moon

Hot Cold
Yellow Silver
Fiery Night
Day Still
Light Orbiting
Blinding Shining
Exploding Beautiful
Distant Crescent
Nuclear

 

Don’t worry if you have more words than you need. It’s better to have too many words to choose from than not enough.

Finally, you’ll want to arrange your diamante, putting the synonyms or antonyms at the top and bottom, the adjectives next, on lines 2 and 6, the verbs after that on lines 3 and 5, and lastly your additional nouns on the middle line.

In the top half of the poem – lines 2 and 3 – your adjectives and verbs should be ones from your first brainstorming column – words that have to do with line 1, like this:

Sun
Fiery, Yellow
Burning, Blinding, Exploding

In the bottom half of the poem – lines 5 and 6 – your adjectives and verbs should be related to the noun on line 7, like this:

Shining, Orbiting, Reflecting
Cold, Silver
Moon

On line 4, the line in the middle of the poem, the first two nouns should be related to the noun on line 1, and the last two nouns should be related to the noun on line 7, like this:

Flame, Light, Night, Crescent

When you put everything together, you’ll end up with something like this:

Sun
Fiery, Yellow
Burning, Blinding, Exploding
Flame, Light, Night, Crescent
Shining, Orbiting, Reflecting
Cold, Silver
Moon

Things to Remember

As you begin writing your own diamantes, here are the important things to remember:

  • Diamantes can be about anything
  • They are 7 lines long
  • The word count is simple: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Your lines should have: noun, adjectives, verbs, nouns, verbs, adjectives, noun
  • Try to “center” your poem on the page to give it a diamond shape
  • Most importantly, have fun!

How to Write an Acrostic Poem

What is an Acrostic?

Acrostics are a fun poetic form that anyone can write. They have just a few simple rules, and this lesson will teach you how to create acrostic poems of your own.

To begin with, an acrostic is a poem in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be a name, a thing, or whatever you like. When children write acrostics, they will often use their own first name, or sometimes the first name of a friend.

Usually, the first letter of each line is capitalized. This makes it easier to see the word spelled out vertically down the page.

Acrostics are easy to write because they don’t need to rhyme, and you don’t need to worry about the rhythm of the lines. Each line can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

Creating an Acrostic in Five Easy Steps

To create an acrostic, follow these five easy steps:

  1. Decide what to write about.
  2. Write your word down vertically.
  3. Brainstorm words or phrases that describe your idea.
  4. Place your brainstormed words or phrases on the lines that begin with the same letters.
  5. Fill in the rest of the lines to create a poem.

Now let me show you how to follow these steps.

The first step is to decide what you would like to write an acrostic poem about. I recommend you start by writing an acrostic based on your name or on your favorite thing, whatever that happens to be. It doesn’t matter if your favorite thing is soccer, video games, chocolate, music, pizza, movies, or anything else.

An Ice Cream Acrostic

For example, I especially like ice cream, so I decided to write an acrostic about ice cream. Begin by writing the word “ICE CREAM” down the page like this:

I
C
E 

C
R
E
A
M

Next, you want to say something about ice cream in each line. A good way to do this is to “brainstorm” lots of ideas. I wrote down a list of all the ice cream flavors I could think of, including chocolate chip, strawberry, rocky road, and others. Then I put them in a list wherever they would fit, like this:

Ice Cream

I
Cookies & Cream.
English Toffee.

Chocolate Chip.
Rocky Road.
E
Almond Fudge.
M

You’ll notice that I didn’t fill in all of the lines. That’s because I couldn’t think of a flavor that started with “I” and I could only think of one flavor that started with “E.” Also, I thought I would do something different with the last line, to make it an ending for the poem, rather than just another flavor.

Finally, I filled in the missing lines, like this:

Ice Cream

I love every flavor.
Cookies & Cream.
English Toffee.

Chocolate Chip.
Rocky Road.
Even Strawberry and
Almond Fudge.
Mmmmmmmm.

Now, just as you can write acrostics about things you like, you can also write them about things you don’t like, such as chores, homework, and so on. Here is an example acrostic about homework.

A Homework Acrostic

Begin by writing the word “HOMEWORK” down the page:

H
O
M
E
W
O
R
K

Next, brainstorm as many words and phrases as you can think of.  Here are some I came up with:

Reading for hours. Writing. Not my favorite. Every Day. I’d rather be watching TV. Makes me crazy. Overwhelming. Hard to do.

Notice that some of these words and phrases begin with the letters in the word “homework.” I put these ones in where I saw they would go:

Homework

Hard to do
Overwhelming,
M
Every day
Writing
O
Reading for hours.
K

Finally, I found a way to fill in the rest of the words, and even give it an ending. Here is the finished acrostic:

Homework

Hard to do and sometimes
Overwhelming,
My teacher gives us homework
Every single day!
Writing for hours
Or
Reading for hours.
Kids need a break!

Things to Remember

Here are a few things to remember as you begin writing your own acrostics:

  1. Acrostics can be about anything!
  2. Names are a common topic. Try writing one using your best friend’s name and giving it to him or her as a gift.
  3. You can use single words, phrases, or even full sentences in your acrostic poem.

Finally, remember, acrostic poems are one of the easiest and most fun ways to create poems of your own. Give it a try and see what you can come up with.

 

Recipe for Disaster

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A box of melted crayons.
A cup of Elmer’s glue.
A pint of watercolor paint.
Some Silly Putty too.

A half a pound of Play-Doh.
About a pint of paste.
A tablespoon of flubber
to improve the final taste.

I looked through all the cupboards
for things I could include.
If it was marked “Non-Toxic”
I just figured that meant “food.”

To guarantee it’s healthy
I topped it with a beet.
Then smashed it all together
so it should be good to eat.

I’m hoping that you’ll try it
and tell me what you think.
Just close your eyes and open wide
and nevermind the stink.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Our Teacher Sings the Beatles

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Our teacher sings The Beatles.
She must know every song.
We ask her please to stop
but she just sings, “It Won’t Be Long.”

And then she croons like Elvis.
She clearly thinks it’s cool.
And if we beg her not to
she just belts out, “Don’t be Cruel.”

She then does Michael Jackson.
It drives us nearly mad.
We have to cover up our ears
because she’s singing, “Bad.”

She winds up with The Wiggles
or else a Barney song,
and, even worse, she tells us all
that we should sing along.

It’s all my fault she does this.
I feel like such a fool.
I wish I’d never brought
my karaoke box to school.

–Kenn Nesbitt

New Video: My Pet Germs

Here’s my latest animated video. I had so much fun creating this one and I think you’ll see why when you play it. Have fun!

Note:  If you’d like to read along with the poem, click on the “cc” button at the bottom of the video once it starts playing.

To Some It’s Known as Halloween

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To some it’s known as “Halloween,”
or else “All Hallows Eve.”
To some it’s simply “Dress Up Day,”
a time for make believe.

And some folks call it “Trick or Treat,”
when ghosts and witches play.
To others it’s the night before
the day called “All Saints Day.”

It’s got so many different names,
but this is what I say:
To me October thirty-first
is called “Free Candy Day.”

–Kenn Nesbitt

The Dragons of Monster Town

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The dragons run the fire department
down in Monster Town.
They’re Johnny-on-the-spot
when there’s a building burning down.

They carry ropes and hoses.
They have buckets full of sand,
which, every afternoon, they practice
passing hand to hand.

They’ve got a truck and ladder,
and a siren they can blare.
They’ve even got protective hats
and boots and underwear.

But every time that there’s a fire
they stand around and pout.
Unfortunately, dragons stink
at putting fires OUT.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Melvin the Mummy

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Melvin the mummy, who lived near the Nile,
had worked as a mummy for more than a while,
for mummies can go their entire careers
without a vacation for thousands of years.

He guarded the pyramids day after day
to frighten the burglars and bandits away,
which meant, as he stood watching over the pharaohs,
he often got shot at with bullets and arrows.

His job was so stressful, the pay was so poor,
but, still, Melvin stayed and protected the door.
Until he got sick of his sad situation
and knew that he needed to take a vacation.

His crypt was so dark and so cold and so clammy,
he packed up his swimsuit and flew to Miami.
He thought he would stay there for just a few days,
enjoying the beach and absorbing some rays.

But, sadly, poor Melvin would never return,
and this is a lesson all mummies should learn:
Don’t take any trips or, like Melvin, you’ll find
vacations make mummies relax and unwind.

–Kenn Nesbitt