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Poetry Before You Know It (and How Your Computer Can Help) - Part 2 (9-12)
by Hilda and Henrietta

Non-Rhyming Poetry

If you are interested in writing a rhyming poem, we suggest that you check out Part 1 in our Poetry Before You Know It series. There you'll learn how to write a funny poem called a limerick, and you'll get lots of suggestions for how to use the computer to help you write other rhyming poems.

To start, let's suppose your teacher wants you to write a poem that doesn't rhyme. Maybe the teacher will let you write any type of non-rhyming poem or maybe you'll need to write a certain type of non-rhyming poem. Poems that don't rhyme can be tricky, but they are also fun to write because you can concentrate on the words and what they mean and not bother about trying to rhyme.

There are many different types of non-rhyming poems such as the Acrostic, where the first letter in each line spells a word when you examine the letters vertically, or Shape poetry in which the lines of the poem create the shape of the subject of the poem. An Acrostic about Mother's Day might spell the word BEAUTIFUL, and a Shape poem about a holiday cruise might have its lines in the form of a ship. Some other types of non-rhyming poems include: Cinquain, Diamante, Haiku, Palindrome, Free Verse, etc. To find out more about different types of poetry, go to Shadow Poetry (http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/types.html).

Because Japanese Haiku poetry can be so beautiful, we thought we'd help you with the writing of one. In a Haiku you usually write about nature or feelings, and you generally use a certain number of lines and syllables. Keep in mind that we said "generally." Haiku form can vary, but Haikus usually go with the rule 5/7/5, meaning five syllables in lines one and three, and seven in line two. Haikus are short poems with only three lines, like this:

Flashing in the sky
It lights the trees on the hills, And then disappears.

Now it's your turn to write a Haiku. Let's do one on feelings. Open a word processing program and begin to experiment with ideas that describe the following situation. It's time for semester exams, but you've been busy, and didn't take time to study for your U.S. History exam. You thought you knew enough to get by. Then the teacher gives out the test, you look at the answers, and you feel

We've given you some ideas, but we bet you can write a better one on your own. Remember, the first line usually has five syllables:

Sweat pours from my pores,

The next line should have seven syllables, so perhaps:

Dripping onto the questions.

All you need is a last line of five syllables. It's time to end this Haiku and your feelings of guilt:

I should have studied.

Keep in mind that poetry is not just using techniques such as the letters in an Acrostic poem, rhyming in a rhyming poem, or counting syllables and lines. When you are writing a poem, think of unique ways to say what you have in mind. Listen to how words sound. Think about how literary devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia, symbolism, hyperbole, metaphor, simile, etc.) will enhance your work. Use your observation skills and consider methods that would describe what you see in ways that you wouldn't when writing an essay or a report. Consider poetry a beautiful and unique way of expressing your ideas.

When you write poetry, type your work into the computer as your thoughts come to mind. Word processing makes it easy to rearrange lines and change lines and words around. On the computer you can experiment in ways that aren't possible with traditional writing. You might even have your computer read your work back to you. Some Windows computers and all Macintosh System X computers can do this for you. By heading to the Internet you can, in addition, get lots of ideas about types of poems and tons of inspiration for your life as a poet. Finally, depending upon the type of poem you are writing and your teacher's guidelines for submission, you may want to use a computer art, paint, or photography program to make a perfect background or frame for your poem.

The computer does make it easier for writers, especially poets.

Here're some sites to give you some help with writing rhyming and non-rhyming poems:

Poetry 180: Poem a Day for High School Students
So you have to read a poem, yours or a famous poet's, aloud. Here's how. Reading poetry correctly will also help you with your poem's meter or rhythm.

Poetry Magic
Poetry Magic provides information on rhythm and stanza, imagery and metaphor, and a long list of topics related to writing poetry.

This is another nice rhyming dictionary.

Shadow Poetry: Types of Poetry
Shadow Poetry great place to find information about different types of poems. If your teacher assigns a specific type of poem, you can head to Shadow Poetry to find out exactly what you need to write. Shadow poetry gives you information on rhyming patterns and beat, along with other ideas about writing poems.

Poetry Express
Poetry Express features tips and techniques for writing poetry.

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