Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Repeating-Pattern Poems

Week of April 3, 2011: Picture Book Poetry
Wednesday, April 6:  Repeating-Pattern Poems

Another frequently used structure or method of poetry writing is the use of a repeating line or phrase. Sometimes the repeating line is a stem that leads into the stanza. Other times the repeat is a refrain following a stanza. This form is used frequently in picture books (even ones that might not be considered poetry).

The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown (best known as the author of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny) and Leonard Weisgard is an example of a picture book with a repeated pattern. Warning this is an old book—original copyright 1949. But the book is still out there on someone’s back list and is used frequently in school settings. Wise Brown uses repetition in two ways. Each page of the book begins with the repeating phrase: "The important thing about an _____ is . . .” and then the entire first line is repeated at the end of the page. For instance:

The important thing about rain is
that it is wet.
It falls out of the sky,
and it sounds like rain,
and makes things shiny,
and it does not taste like anything,
and is the color of air.
But the important thing about rain
is that it is wet.

From: The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard, p. 8

Another picture book classic, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Shelia McGraw, also uses a repeated refrain throughout the book:

Practicing Repeated Patterns
Below are two poetry writing exercises that encourage the use of repeating patterns. Try your hand at them and you may find inspiration for your future writing. My friend, Sharon Waite, and I developed the activities when we were teaching together.

Color Poem
This poem allows you to practice sensory details and similes. Think about your favorite color. Express your feelings about a single color with analogies or similes or list nouns which are (or remind you of) that color. Another easy form is to use the 5 senses by saying what the color . . .
. . . looks like
. . . sounds like
. . . smells like
. . . tastes like
. . . feels like

Orange is the sun sliding to the horizon after a summer day.
Orange is the sound of a dribbling basetball.
Orange is the smell of a tiger lily petal.
Orange is the taste of a thirst-quenching Nehi Soda.
Orange is the color of peach marmalade on a side of toast.
Orange is the sound of a carrot popping out of the ground.

Why stick with one color? Explore your largest set of crayons and see how far you can take this repeated pattern.

Repeating Simile/Metpahor
We’ve talked about similes and metaphors before. It is easy to use a simile or a metaphor to structure a repeating line in a poem. You can then use that repeating subject to list similes or metaphors that describe the subject. The exercise could help you find that one perfect simile or metaphor that would make a piece of writing zing! Let me share an example.

The Sun

The sun is an orange sitting on a tablecloth of blue.
The sun is a basketball arcing toward the net.
The sun is a dingy bobbing in an azure ocean.
The sun is a golden button on an indigo shirt.
The sun is a cantaloupe in a blue glass bowl.

It’s Your Turn!
1. Go on a book hunt to find picture books that contain poetry using repeating patterns.
2. Try out some of the exercises above. Take a risk and share what you create!


sharon said...

Ahhh I'm in your blog!!!! Toooooo coooooool! Tooooo coooool! See a repeated pattern! Oh how i miss teaching with you :-)

Rob Sanders said...

Of course you're in my blog, Sharon. You always have been a star!!!

kidlitblog said...

I've never seen The Important Book before, but that page makes it look wonderful! I definitely want to read it now. Thanks! :) - Wendy

Anonymous said...

this so coll i like it love thing in poem help me a lot my homework