Poetry Slam '16

It’s almost time for our Poetry Slam! I’m so excited to see what you come up with! If anyone has missed class, here is a rundown of the entries for Monday’s competition:

Origami Poem

origami-houseThe first entry in our poetry slam is the “Origami poem”. In class, we learned to fold an origami house like the one at the left. (See this post for help). Students must decorate the exterior of the origami house. On the interior, students write the actual poem.

To write the poem: we studied “Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser (read it here). In class, we talked about how the poet tells us things about the inhabitants of the home via their belongings. We then did a model poem using photographs of Mr. Harris’s office. Look at a sample of how that worked:

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
He is a family man, say the pictures of his children
on a cabinet by the couch;
A sports fan too, says the canvas of the stadium
on the wall; and a well-organized man, says the shelf with a row of binders
against the wall behind the desk, standing at attention;
but not a man for decoration, say the walls
lacking ornamentation and the empty shelf.

Students will need to write their three-stanza poem inside their origami house.


Haiku, traditional Japanese poetry, are very short little poems. Each poem is only three lines long, in a very specific pattern. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, and line three is five syllables.

Our in-class assignment is to write four haiku (one about each season). Students should put all four haiku on the same page. Note: it isn’t required that the page be decorated…but many have asked if they may. You may type or handwrite your poetry, and you may decorate the page if you wish.

Free Choice Poem

The third entry to the poetry slam is a free choice poem. You have an option of one of three poetic types for the free choice: concrete poetry, template poetry, or an ode.

Concrete Poetry

Concrete poetry is also known as “shape poetry”. The image at right is the sample poem that I gave you in class.

To write a concrete poem, you write your poem (free verse or any other specific type that you choose) and then you arrange the words in such a way on the paper as to make the image.

An easy way to do this on the computer is to copy your image to a document, send it behind the text, and then type your poem over the image, spacing and sizing your font as necessary (I had to change the color of mine when typing the poem and then swapped it back at the end).

Template Poetry

Template poetry simply requires that you follow a specific prompt as given. If you choose to write the template poem, you will fill in the blanks of the prompt below:

I am … (remember, you can be serious or funny in this poem)
I wonder…
I hear…
I see …
I want …

Repeat first line here
I pretend …
I believe …
I touch …
I feel …
I worry …
I cry. (Note that there IS a period there)

Repeat first line here
I understand …
I say …
I dream …
Repeat first line here

**While I don’t know who created the template, I will say that it’s not mine. Here’s where I found it:

Milner, Joseph O’Beirne, and Lucy Floyd Morcock Milner. Bridging English. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Merrill, 1999.

Finally, the ode–the last of the three free choice options. An ode is a lyrical poem, addressed to a specific subject (either human or inanimate). We are not going to worry about the classical structure–we are merely writing a lyrical poem.

Keep in mind when writing your odes:

  • Lyrical poems should attempt to maintain a rhythm or flow. While you don’t have to make sure to follow a set pattern like iambic pentameter, you should make an effort to make your lines similar in length and have a flow when read.
  • Lyrical poems are more likely to rhyme.
  • Lyrical poems typically have a refrain (think a chorus from a song).

A tip when writing an ode: think of a song you like and set your “ode” to that music. Remember that if you do this, you will need to cite your source 🙂

Summing it all up:

On Monday, you will need to have THREE poems ready to read for the competition–your origami poem, your haiku, and your free choice poem.

Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *