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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Marching into April

Gentle reader, I don't know about you, but for me, March has just dragged on. I'm ready to be done with it. So I'm going to forgo the March theme post I was considering and skip to April, which is National Poetry Month.

Meandering March: a Haiku

March. Make up your mind.
Sun. Snow day. First day of spring.
Time for a new month.
Book cover for Grass Sandals
You may have learned about this type of poetry, known as haiku, in school. This style originated in Japan. Traditionally, a haiku poem consists of 3 lines. The first and third lines of the poem are 5 syllables. The middle line is 7 syllables. Often haiku poems are about nature. You can find many fine haiku poetry collections, for adults and children, in our catalog. A number of these collections feature poems translated from Japanese into English.

There are many other styles of poetry, of course, such as sonnets, limericks, narrative poems, and free verse. Sonnets are 14 lines poems that rhyme. Our friend William Shakespeare is well known for his sonnets.

Limericks are 5 line witty, sometimes nonsensical, poems. Historically, limericks had a tradition of being, well, racy. That is less the case nowadays. Limericks have a unique, specific rhyming scheme. The first, second, and fifth lines are longer and rhyme with each other. Then the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.

A Library Limerick

There once was a library poem.
That wasn't exactly a tome.
It had the right rhyme.
Written on the right line.
But its punch line made people groan.

Narrative poems tell stories. They have a strong sense of plot and character. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an example of a narrative poem. It is about a sailor who crashes a wedding to recount the tale of his supernaturally tragic sea voyage. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden wrote a song based on this poem in the 1980s.

Book cover for Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant
A subset of the narrative poem style is the epic poem, which features a long, sweeping story. The Odyssey, attributed to the ancient Greek poet Homer, is the story of Odysseus' long, dangerous journey home from the Trojan War. It is an classic example of an epic poem. In addition to the full version of The Odyssey, MCPL offers several versions for children, including the very approachable and appealing Tales from the Odyssey series by the prolific Mary Pope Osborne.

I have a 10,000 line epic poem I wrote that I'd like to share with you...

Oh, not right now?

Some other time then...

Free verse is, well, free. There are no rules to writing free verse. No standard format, no requirement to rhyme, no traditional number of stanzas. Free verse poems can even ignore punctuation. The author can use whatever format or lack of format he or she thinks best conveys the idea of the poem. Famous poets who wrote free verse poems include Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, and Nikki Giovanni.

I won't burden you with any of my own free verse, but instead will offer an example by Walt Whitman with his poem A Noiseless Patient Spider -

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

MCPL has many poetry collections for adults and children. Stop by and check one out today. Our librarians will be happy to help you find something suited to your taste.

May your April be fill with poetry...and sunshine.

Mark

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