Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:01 am

Here’s a bit of a change of pace, and a chance for you—both poets and prose writers—to write something even smaller than a Writing Challenge entry. I’m talking about two well-known and relatively easy poetic forms: the haiku and the limerick.

Let’s start with the easier one, the haiku.

In its purest form, a haiku is a little poem with the following characteristics:
• seventeen syllables (5, then 7, then 5)
• about nature
• some unexpected juxtaposition of ideas or images
• no title
• punctuation or capitalization is optional
• no rhyme

Here are two examples of haiku that meet all those characteristics (these are by the novelist Richard Wright):

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

The day is so long
That even noisy sparrows
Fall strangely silent.

You can read more of Richard Wright’s haiku here.

Frequently, people write haiku using only the first and last of the bulleted rules above. These may be written on any topic and with any mood. I’ve been amused by the haiku supposedly written by dogs or cats, and the computer-related haiku on these websites:

Cat haiku
Dog haiku
Computer haiku

Obviously, haiku are far too short for Writing Challenge entries—but you can write a series of them on the challenge theme, as I did for the week in which the topic was Fragrance. I found lots of Scriptures that used fragrance (or some synonym) and wrote haiku for ten of them. I added titles to increase my word count.

These are things that you can do, too, for something new and “stretchy.”

HOMEWORK #1: Write a few haiku. Try some that meet all the bullet points in the lesson, and then one or two just for fun.

Another little poem is the limerick. It’s a bit looser in its definition than the haiku, but these things are usually true about limericks:

• they have 5 lines
• no title
• the rhyme scheme is (AABBA), that is, lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with each other, and lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other
• they are usually humorous or lighthearted (in fact, they are often naughty. I won’t be dealing with the naughty ones here!)
• they usually have a STRESSED/unstressed/unstressed meter (this is called an anapest, for those of you who like to know that sort of thing), with frequent additions of an extra unstressed syllable at the beginning or end of a line.
• Lines 1, 2, and 5 are longer than lines 3 and 4
• They often start with something along the line of There was an old woman from [place] or A certain young man who [something].

Here’s an example of a limerick that fulfills all of the above:

A charming young lady from Glasgow
Tried seasoning her tea with Tabasco.
She flavored the beef
With a large hemlock leaf,
So the meal was quite a fiasco!

By the way—if you know the old hymn Blest Be the Tie that Binds, you can usually sing a limerick to that tune, more or less.

As with the haiku, you can’t make a Writing Challenge entry with a limerick, but you can string several together to make an entry. Here’s an example of what that might look like. Obviously, I disregarded the fourth and seventh bullet points for this entry—and you can, too.

However, I don’t recommend disregarding the meter of a limerick—without that meter, it just doesn’t feel limerick-y.

HOMEWORK #2: Write a limerick or two. Try to meet all of the bullet points, especially the fifth one.

Do you have any questions or comments about haiku or limericks?
Do you have other suggestions for how they could be used in challenge entries?

If you have a challenge entry that features haiku or limericks, please link to it, and share with us any of your thought process in creating it.

What would you like to see a lesson about in the future?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by CatLin » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:23 am

Hi Jan! Here are a few Haiku from my Poetry files - I'll work on limericks today. :)

sunset on water
brilliant colors paint the sky
kaleidoscopic

smoke-filled autumn air
red flames nibble at darkness
camp fires dot the night

Glistening turquoise
Roils into foaming whitecaps,
Crests, curls, crashes, ebbs.

Like a bolt of lightning
Your Holy Spirit enters
Illuminating

Poetically yours,
Cat
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Pat » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:11 am

These are beautiful Cat!

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:17 am

Cat, they're beautiful. I like them all, but especially the second one. Thanks for sharing them!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Verna » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:39 am

Great little poems, Cat!

The election-year ads on TV
Are a wasteland of banality.
Of viewing we'll take us
A long-term hiatus
Till the swearing-in ceremony.
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by BrotherAnthony » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:40 am

Here is a recent haiku I wrote ... it is of the 5-7-5 variety ...

http://willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com/ ... elessness/

jim mcwhinnie

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:43 am

Verna wrote:Great little poems, Cat!

The election-year ads on TV
Are a wasteland of banality.
Of viewing we'll take us
A long-term hiatus
Till the swearing-in ceremony.
Love this, Verna! So true, for red and blue folks alike.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:44 am

BrotherAnthony wrote:Here is a recent haiku I wrote ... it is of the 5-7-5 variety ...

http://willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com/ ... elessness/

jim mcwhinnie
Thanks, Jim! The graphic really adds to its appeal. Totally lovely!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Verna » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:57 am

jim--that's beautiful. I'm a fan of all your beautiful poetry!
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:12 pm

I thought haiku was easy until I remembered the 5-7-5 rule.

Here are my attempts:

Inspiration: Peter, my silver tiger:

Stroke hair nibble ear
Uphold ownership of hand
Occupy warm lap



Inspiration: Violet, my calico Angora:

In search of heated
pulsing fur-covered chin rest
Procure Angora



Inspiration: My back yard:

Dandelions dance
with clover and grass on lawn
Violets direct



Inspiration: My pond:

Dawn salutes soundless
peaceful patient fisherman
gliding by in boat

Cinnamon Bear
Last edited by Cinnamon Bear on Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:18 pm

Those are lovely, Cinnamon Bear! I didn't know that you were a cat person, too. Thanks for sharing them!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:09 pm

Jan, thanks for your kind words. Yes, I love cats--thanks for the cat haiku.

Cinnamon Bear

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by violin4jesus » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:44 am

Here's an entry where I tackled several forms of poetry from your lessons a few years back:

Ode(s) To A Spider (Or Two)

Here's my haikus in honor of California living:

tiny hummingbird
attempting to be boisterous
quite hilarious

hot late August wind
stifling, oppressive, and dry
turn up the A.C.

idiot drivers
they think they own the freeway
good - a cop ahead

I'm definitely quicker at those than limericks. I really have to work hard on getting the rhyme and meter just right; otherwise I don't like my rhyming poetry.

There was a young woman from L.A.
Who hated the label “cliche”
She listened to Bach
And simultaneously rock
A hipster at heart, you might say

(That took me a good 10-15 minutes to get it just so, and even then, it's not my favorite.)

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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by glorybee » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:17 pm

Love them all, Leah, and despite what you say, I like your limerick. The words you chose for your "A" rhyme are great!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--TINY POEMS

Post by Vonnie » Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:14 pm

I love the limerick poem but very seldom write poetry. This one is not an exact rhyme but wanted to post it anyway.

Every week Jan has a lesson
Giving all an invite to the session
If you come to stay
And you'd do what she'd say
Then your writing would not keep you quessin'

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