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  • Writer's pictureEugenia Sestini

Dipping our toe in poetry (you can do this!)

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

A few weeks ago I wrote about literary devices, which you can use when writing short stories, poetry and more.

When I asked a few parents with children in primary school what words came to mind when thinking about poetry, they mentioned words such as: difficult, verse, love, dream, literature, meaning, experience, expression, tactics and strategy. Wow! Most adults and children read a lot more novels and non-fiction than poetry. No wonder many find poetry overwhelming. But while we may not read it, we are certainly used to saying or singing poetry every day (more about this in a few weeks).

Maybe many of us struggle with writing poetry because we think we have to write about our deepest feelings (and we don’t want to share those with an audience of readers), or we may be worried about composing something a bit cheesy, or perhaps we are daunted by the idea of writing using rhyme and other literary devices.

So I thought it was time to dip our toe into poetry and help children (and parents) lose that fear of writing poetry.

Have a look at these FAQ below:

Does poetry always have to rhyme? No.

Does poetry have to be about feelings? No, there are poems about everything from buses to curly hair.

Must a poem have over ten lines? No, poems come in all shapes and sizes.

Do I have to be some kind of expert to write a poem? Not at all!

To help you get started, I’m going to introduce short poems called haikus. Maybe you’ve heard of them. They have a total of 17 syllables, so they are short and sweet.

About haikus

Haikus originated in Japan, and they are short poems made up of three lines (a line in a poem is called a verse). There are 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 on the third. Haikus don’t have to rhyme or have any punctuation, and they are usually written in the present tense.

Traditionally, haikus evoke images of nature. Nowadays many people write haikus on a number of topics, but we will try to see if we can stick to the topic of nature this week. This can include the seasons, the weather, animals and anything related to the natural world. If you are stuck for ideas, think of how you experience nature with all your senses, and maybe focus on one of them. What can you smell or taste? What can you see or hear? Can you touch something that feels strange? Or did you step on something? You can go for a walk for inspiration (or look out the window if it is cold and rainy like today!).

If you’re feeling inspired you can add some literary devices too!

Here is a haiku I wrote about today:

Walking in the rain

Wet shoes, wet socks, drip, drip, drip

I hold in a sneeze

This is an introduction to haikus; there are lots more things I could say but I want to keep it simple so that you have a go at writing one. Have a look at the checklist below or download the worksheet, and become a haiku poet!

Haiku checklist

Think about nature

What are your senses telling you? (what can you see, hear, smell, etc.?)

Write in the present

5-7-5 syllable structure

Don’t worry about capital letters, punctuation or rhyming

Happy Writing!

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