Monday, April 1, 2013


This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

 Well, once again it is April. Which means that it is National Poetry Month. Which means I'm going to once again try to encourage you to think about verse. Now just the other day I accidentally had some grade school students thinking in verse.

Among nerds, March 14th is known as Pi Day (if you remember your high school math then you might remember that pi=3.14156...). And pie is served and bad pi jokes are told. Well I was exposed to a very short poetry form called a pi-ku which are kind of like a haiku, which has three lines, the first with five syllables, the second seven, and the last five again. But for pi-ku you used three lines with the first having 3 syllables, the second one syllable, and the last four syllables. (I suppose you could keep going just using the digits of pi to determine the number of syllables.) I wrote one on Pi Day, which I posted on Facebook. It was: 

Pie today
from the oven.

That was the first domino. Next thing I know Tom Misuraca, the playwright of Tenants which will have ended Easter Sunday, had seen mine and written one of his own. And that led to someone he knows taking it to their school and getting added to Pi Day lessons. The children wrote their own pi-ku and attached them to pictures of pies.

I had done something that had increased the amount of verse in the world. I don't know if any of you out there wrote anything when I encouraged you to write poems for Poetry Month last year. Though there were some additional readers of poetry at Fiddler's Crossing's Open Mic (Wednesdays at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm) during April of last year.

So once again I want to try to encourage you to try to write a poem. Haikus are a good place to start since the form, as is commonly practiced in America, is pretty straightforward. (If you start to get serious about haiku there are additional stylistic conventions you can work on.) But if you don't like haiku, they don't rhyme after all, try writing something else. Maybe consider writing a limerick. These are five line poems where the first, second and fifth lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines do too. (This can be denoted AABBA.)
For example:
There once was a man named Mark,
who had a pet aardvark,
which would stick out its tongue
when they went walking among
all the dogs in the park.

Once again, perhaps not my best work. But it does make a person think about the words that they use. Which is one of the things that poetry does for us. I had a conversation a few years ago with a friend about synonyms. In the thesaurus on my desk I see that blessing and boon are considered synonyms. But they don't really mean the same thing. If they did we wouldn't need both words.

Even when the words are closer in meaning, there can still be a difference in the emotional content of the words. For example, if somebody who has gone beyond what was needed is told they did “more than enough” it is possible to take that as having done “too much”.

And I see that I've already written “more than enough”. So think about your words, try to write some verse, no matter how good or bad, I've probably written worse.  

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