Apr 28, 2010

To haiku or not to haiku

by Marielle Carlisle

Did you know that April was National Poetry Month? Well, surprise!

In my Humanities course one of our assignments was to read and review a book of poems. I found a delightful anthology that I highly recommend for anyone.

It's "A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms." 29 poems are identified and defined, from common (couplet, haiku, limerick) to not-so-common (villanelle, double dactyl, pantoum).

The editor states at the beginning of the book that the purpose of the book was to define the rules of poems, because without rules, where’s the fun in writing? There’s no challenge. But, he adds, rules are meant to be broken, like in "There Once was a Limerick Called Steve." It starts off on the right foot, but by the end its poking fun at itself and the rhyme pattern has completely dissolved.

What makes the book so great are the illustrations. The pictures are whimsical, colorful and bright. In the top corner of each poem, the artist has drawn the rules of the poem in a picture. For example, the limerick corner shows a bouncing ball that has bounced three times on lines 1, 2 and 5, and two times on lines 3 and 4. The haiku corner shows 5 flowers on the top row, 7 flowers in the middle row, and 5 flowers on the bottom row. A villanelle, as we learn from the editor’s notes, is quite a challenge to write, so the pictures show a rather villainous character lurking around while the poem discusses whether there is a villain in your villanelle.

The first thing I thought when I finished reading this book was “I want it, I need it, HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON IT!?” This collection is wonderful. The poems coupled with the artwork make me want to write a poem. Not a villanelle (not yet anyway), but maybe a haiku. There was one poem that I had heard before, which was the Riddle Poem, so I felt very clever in knowing the answer. I’m a little unsure about double dactyls. Even saying “double dactyl” is a mouthful. I smiled reading “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes,” reflected through “Little Elegy (for a child who skipped rope),” and wished I were a piece of paper in the personal poem “Paper Dreams.”

Here's a couple poems, courtesy of yours truly:

Poem #1: List Poem

When I go
By Marielle Carlisle

Two little monkeys jumping on my bed
Groggy wake-up cuddles
Belly laughs from a tickle attack
Little socks and shirts to sort
Nose prints on a clean window
Hiccups on a warm, breezy day
Peanut butter and jelly breath
Squashed weed bouquets
Sandy pockets and dusty bums
Slide static-hair and teeter-totter tumbles
Soft tears to wipe away
Popsicle kisses smeared on my cheek
Bubbly toes at bath time
Tiny hands squeezing mine
Sleepy drool on my shoulder
Two perfect monkeys dreaming in bed

My heart is packed
with treasures
when I go

Poem #2: Diamonte

by Marielle Carlisle

juicy, green
bunching, hydrating, filling
fun, smooth, bumpy, serious
scattering, drying, snacking
shriveled, red

Poem #3: Limerick

Outside cat
by Marielle Carlisle

There once was a kitty named Tootsie
Who constantly slept at my footsie
She threw-up each day
and got in the way
So kitty has gotten the bootsie

Alright, ladies and gentleman (yes, I know you guys are out there), grab a pen and paper and write some poems!


  1. Well Marielle you've definitely given me a new perspective on poetry. Mine always was always a bit like Popeye rephrased, "I knows whats I likes and I likes what I knows." Ha. I'll try a limerick...soon.

  2. I love your post, Marielle, and now I want to read that book! "When I go" is beautiful. Thanks for those memories...Great job on the poetry!


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