Creative Writing: Poetry
Poems are read, violets are blue.
Poets are the sages of the ages, the voices of generations, the obscure geniuses of yore. And it's that kind of reputation that scares people away from trying their hand at it.
Little do these folks know that all poets start out by doodling (or chiseling, as the case may be) imitations of the poets that came before them.
In this course, we'll focus on your individual way of writing poems—poems that only you can write. We'll even peek at the ground broken by some of Poetryland's most famous predecessors in order to help identify what's ticking in your own creations.
If you've ever found yourself changing the words to a song on the radio so they fit your life, writing funny limericks in the margins of your English notebook, or admiring words of wisdom graffiti-ed on a highway overpass, you should probably let your curiosity win and give poetry writing a try.
Unit 1. The Toolkit
This unit is all about poetic devices: what they are, and more importantly, how to use 'em.
Unit 2. With Their Powers Combined: Poetry & Your Life
In this unit, we'll turn inward and focus on pulling out the unique experiences, bizarre thoughts, and secret obsessions that'll help you create poems that only you can write.
Unit 3. Getting Weird to Generate Poems
This unit will focus on tactics for creating poems when you're feeling low on poem-fuel. There's always an idea out there.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 3: A Rhyme in Time is Better than a Mime
Do you groan every time some one says "You're a poet and you just don't know it"? Yeah, us too. Rhyme is one of the oldest tricks in the Poetryland book, but it can definitely cross the line into totally overdone cheesiness:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You know the rest,
And the rest is AWFUL.
No matter how much you might love a sharp cheddar, cheese is no good in a poem.
So how do you go about using rhyme without beating the reader over the proverbial head with it? In this lesson, we'll take a look at a couple different kinds of rhyme so that we can get a handle on what we're dealing with.
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.3a: Rhyme Time
Rhyming is simple, right? A rhyme is just a repetition of sounds that sound, well, the same.
Well, it's simple and it isn't. Strictly speaking, that definition is correct, but did you know there's also a whole bunch of different types of rhyme? Seriously, take a look:
- Internal rhyme occurs within a line of poetry.
- End rhyme occurs only at the ends of lines. Go figure.
- Perfect rhyme sounds just like what it means. A perfect rhyme rhymes perfectly, as in cat and hat.
- Slant rhyme consists of rhymes that are close, but not quite there. Think dear and door or soul and all. Also known as half rhyme, imperfect rhyme, or weak rhyme. Hey! Who you callin' weak?
- Eye rhymes look alike but don't sound alike, like tough and bough or mint and pint.
When end rhymes are arranged in a certain way in a poem, we call that the poem's rhyme scheme. Does it go ABABABCC? How about AABBCCDD?
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.3b: The Pop Magic of Yeats (& Friends)
Slant rhyme gives you the most poetic "wiggle room," so let's see some examples of what the big league hitters of Poetryland have been up to with it.
Here's one from William Butler Yeats, from a poem called "Lines Written in Dejection" (spoiler alert: it's sad):
When have I last looked on
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies
Of the dark leopards of the moon?
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies
Sneaky rhymes in there, right? Close enough to maintain a basic rhyme scheme but loose enough to allow Mr. Yeats to get creative—and probably to have more word choices. This porridge is just right.
You'll also find slant rhymes everywhere in music today, no matter what genre. She may not be a Poetryland Hall of Famer (yet?), but Carly Rae Jepsen sure knows how to slant rhyme.
Yep, rhyme is everywhere. Now go forth and use your knowledge for good, not evil.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.3: Eye Spy with Slant Rhymes
- Course Length: 3 weeks
- Grade Levels: 11, 12, College
- Course Type: Short Course
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following Common Core Standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1