POETRY_WORKBOOK


Basic craft :Forms and figures /2

For all these games, whether words are fitted in as in the Limericker or where words are replaced as in Nursery Rhymes, it is essential to follow the `tune' as much as the rhyme scheme. For this it's important that the verse form be "sung" repeatedly until the rhythm, the number and correct emphasis of the beats is fully absorbed.
Unless these are heard and understood and repeated while the verse is being written, confusion will still creep in and rhythm and shape will slip and distort.
Ti-tum or Duh-der the tune, making sure that players understand that a word can contain several beats and that "syllable-crunching" (BA-NA-NA, A-ME-RI-CA) can help solve problems, though the real test is aural - how does it sound read aloud?
It is worth pointing out the pitfalls of relying on the way a word looks as a guide to its syllables and that sometimes words are run together or are so short as to be normally unstressed. There are many quirks but the simplest debugging routine is to read the poem aloud, which will reveal any awkwardness in scansion or rhythm, or difficulties due to misplaced stress or juddering combinations of words.

A simple introduction to beat and stress is to get players to count the syllables in their own names and notice where they put the stress as they say them; then move to examples of three, then four beats. I usually end by asking them to count the beats in a long word, such as supercalifragilistic- expialidosious, to encourage patience.

Players should be encouraged to write out lists of rhymes, as appropriate, once they have begun a formal pattern, in order that they can consider the possibilities and plan ahead within the rhyme's restrictions, rather than rushing ahead and messing up the poem by putting down the first word they think of without examining its and the wider possibilities and deciding how these will affect what the verse is about and how it will reach a satisfactory ending.

Given as a form, the scansion, structure and story can be built bit by bit, jigsaw fashion, by players of almost any age and ability. They may not grasp the whole pattern or write a wholly cohesive poem but will have been involved in a method and way of thinking that can be practiced Nevertheless, I feel it's not necessary, except in the cases where the form absolutely demands it, to hold precisely to strict rhythm patterns.

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under BASIC CRAFT in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009