Monday, March 26, 2007

Quotation fun - What was your worst classroom moment?

In the book, The Ode Less Travelled, Stephen Fry writes the following tidbit about poetry in the Foreward:

Fry wrote:
It seems to many that while there is a clear road to learning music, gardening or watercolours, poetry lies in inaccessible marshland: no pathways, no signposts, just the skeletons of long-dead poets poking through the bog and the unedifying sight of living ones floundering about in apparent confusion and mutual enmity. Behind it all, the dread memory of classrooms swollen into resentful silence while the English teacher invites us to 'respond' to a poem.

To be frank, I honestly can't remember a bad moment in the classroom, probably because I was reading ahead in the text while everyone else was snoring into their desktops. When we studied Chaucer in 10th grade, it was the most fun I'd ever had in English class. The best parts were the raunchy passages; my teacher read from the text in the doorway, ever alert for the footsteps of the vice-principal (a nun) because technically, she wasn't allowed to teach such a thing in my high school.

So, what was your worst classroom moment?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Poem Spark Mar. 19-Apr. 2 - Alliteration & Assonance

Greetings fellow poets!

When my muse has gone on vacation, I've often found it helpful to focus on a single poetic technique as a way to jump start inspiration. Usually, I open an old and much-loved poetry guide to a random page and choose the first topic I see. Today, I picked up "The Heath Guide to Poetry," (the book my 10th grade English teacher used). Much to my delight, alliteration and assonance were the topics that featured on page 208. has entries on both of these terms in the Poetry Glossary, under part 3, Poetic Devices:

alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the beginning of words — ". . . like a wanderer white"

assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds — "I rose and told him of my woe"

By now I'm sure you realize that these two devices have a great deal to do with the music of poetry; they're part of what makes a poem sound like something worth reading. However, a poet can get carried away: if you overuse either alliteration or assonance, your poem will sound quite strange. "Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" is a good example of the tongue-twister that can ensue from an unrestrained use of alliteration. Keep this danger in mind! Use alliteration and assonance with care!

Here are some examples of poems that use alliteration and assonance:

Robert Pinsky: Shirt

Howard Nemerov: Writing

Edgar Allan Poe The Bells

An interesting historical tidbit: the accentual verse popular in the middle ages used alliteration as one of the defining features of the line. Each line of verse contained at least three alliterations. For example, this is from the University of Virginia e-text of Piers the Plowman, written by William Langland in the 12th century:

Thus I awaked and wroot what I hadde ydremed,
And dighte me derely, and dide me to chirche,
To here holly the masse and to be housled after.

Your poem spark: write a poem that utilizes alliteration, assonance, or both. Have fun and be creative!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Autumn Sky Poetry - Number 5 online


The fifth issue of Autumn Sky Poetry is now online.

Read poems by Jon Ballard, Alan Britt, Leah Browning, Michaela Gabriel, Beth Stolar Kehayes, David Landrum, Steve Meador, Cheryl Snell, Alex Stolis, and Kathleen Vibbert.

—It's all about the poetry.

Christine Klocek-Lim, Editor

Saturday, March 17, 2007

November Sky website updated

My personal website, November Sky, has been updated! Some new photos from 2007 have been added. New poems from 2006 and one from 2007 have been added (a few with audio). Go check it out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007