Poetry Friday — What Do You Know?

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for August was to write a What the ____ Knows poem either after the style of Jane Yolen’s eight line, rhyming poem, “What the Bear Knows,” a poem written in honor of her 400th bookBear Outside, or after the style of Joyce Sidman’s “Higher Power” poems which she introduced in Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty Spotlight.Jane’s poem has short lines that are complete sentences, and rhymes in lines 2&4, 6&8. Joyce’s poem has two stanzas with three lines each — a total of six truths. The line, “What do/does the ___ know?” is repeated at the beginning of each stanza, and rhyming the final word in line is optional.

For me, strict adherence to form can yield surprising results. But it’s just plain FUN to fiddle with form, and these What the ____ Knows poems were all kinds of fun!

Now that I have a little more free time, I have found my way back to embroidery, and I was inspired by the needle going in and out of the fabric. This one is Sidman-ish. It has six lines, but not in groups of three. It has rhyme, but in pairs. The question is not repeated. My biggest fun was with enjambment.

photo via Unsplash

These next two were inspired by my garden. Zinnias (hello again!) comes closest to following Sidman’s form. Crickets is similar to Needle, but its rhymes are 1/3/5 and 2/4/6. Like I said, the operative word this month was PLAY!

I’m still working on a pair that explores WHAT THE POOL KNOWS. One has long lines and is very conversational in tone; the variation is terse.

Check out what the other Poetry Sisters came up with, and join in if you want!

Andi
Kelly
Laura
Liz
Sara
Tanita
Tricia

Elizabeth has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Unexpected Intersections.

photo via Unsplash

If you want to plan ahead for the Poetry Sisters’ September challenge, we’re each choosing a poem by another Poetry Sister and writing a tanka in response or inspired by or in conversation with that poem. You can choose a poem by someone in the Poetry Friday universe and write a tanka in response or inspired by or in conversation with their poem.


24 thoughts on “Poetry Friday — What Do You Know?”

  1. Thanks for this challenge! I love how you’ve given us the perspective of so many different things – an inanimate object, a plant, and a living creature with the poems. The locusts made me laugh: “She’s watering today — stay away…”

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    1. It’s actually the crickets who know they better get out of the way of the hose! The locusts are well protected in the trees, buzzing their little wings off.

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  2. Yes, your emjambment reigned supreme in your What the Needle Knows poem, Mary Lee. And I’m with your Zinnias, I had a ‘chill surprise’ this morning on my jog. Thanks for highlight this month’s challenge (and next month’s too!) – I only had to look to my fur-ball friend for inspiration. 🙂

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  3. Delightful! I love enjambment when it works well–so that I don’t even really notice it until a second read or so and you have done a beautiful job with that here. All the poems are great catches of moments. Love that embroidery. It’s such a fun art. It’s been years and years since I’ve tried it. Hmmmmm.

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  4. Just reading your playful post full of variations made me feel looser–thanks. Needle does not mince words, does she? That is a poem of perfection, *and* I wish her a fabric of optimism. Hello again zinnias! and I also love the watering line in locusts’ poem. Looking forward to the pool’s wisdom!

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  5. Love how you played with variations in your poems, Mary Lee. Reading about your embroidery took me back to my cross-stitching days. Thanks for posting about the August challenge a few weeks ago. I decided to join in, too.

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  6. Yes, I hope that needle will find a fabric of optimism. Love the rhyme sequence in that poem and how it flows down page when read aloud. It is time to “enjoy each summer day.” It’s a bittersweet time for sure.

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  7. I love them all, Mary Lee. It has been fun to take this challenge. I agree with the needle, the “sharply dissent” & it is a clever way to rail against all happening in our world. Zinnias are a favorite flower. I’m glad you wrote about them and I am waiting for the “chill surprise”!

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  8. Thanks for these wonderful examples. I will be using them with my students today. I love the variety of your poems in form and rhyme. I wish I had planted zinnias because they are so bright and happy this year, probably due to all the rain we’ve had. Love the word choice of blaze next to dazzle.

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  9. I love how you’ve identified the fun in each poem—as useful a technique to poets as rhyme or enjambment, I’d say. Your needle poem is stellar, each word placed just so, and the twist on the rhyme scheme really works.

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  10. What a rich playful post, Mary Lee! It’s such fun to read each variation you’ve created. I’m partial to that needle and admire your enjambment like so many others. That’s a craft move I’ve most definitely neglected. Thanks for a great mentor on how to do it right!

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  11. Wow! Mary Lee, I love these poems! They are so fun. I need to put more play and fun in my poems. I played with writing a poem in this style today after I posted. Mine is What the Hummingbird Knows…I am still playing with it and better sign off to find it because it was written on my list of groceries! Thanks for the inspiration and aspiration for my poems to play like yours!

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  12. Hmm that needle, sure has a sharp point–But perhaps she’ll lead… I love zinnias too, and mine are just now flowering, bees are still around and the monarch still fluttering—hope they stay a bit longer. Love the ending lines to your Cricket poem, I’m not ready to let go of summer yet, even with those luscious fall leaves you’ve shared, thanks Mary Lee!

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  13. I love the deeper wisdom you drew out of these topics, especially the wise needle knowing. Beautiful poems and I hope you are soooo glad you are able to enjoy playing this month instead of starting a crazy new school year. Blessings!

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  14. Mary Lee,
    I love this post. My favorite is “What Zinnias Know” and your enjambment is terrific. I am grateful for the inspiration for trying this myself. I bet you will be happy to have more time to write, even though you might miss the classroom and the kids. And glad you are now in the Poetry Sisters. I have a nice notebook that I got from Margaret Simon in my first Poetry Swap summer, where I am jotting down forms and prompts to have at the ready when I can sit and write. I hope that on my upcoming Maine vacation I will write a lot. There is peace and time to spend away from the (self-imposed?) interruptions at home. Your poems have always been ones I admire. I hope you will consider getting some published. Have you heard about the 2 hour course with Janet W. and Sylvia? It is very helpful and interesting. Was well-received by those in the first one last week.

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  15. You were so smart, the way you exploded open the prompt and did with it what you may. I gotta say — the needle one, by the time we got to that final couplet??? WHOA. Masterful.

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  16. Mary Lee, I like how you now have time to play with words. Your poems are imaginative. The needles are speaking from one perspective and the narrator from an optimistic view, making your first poem one to treasure and heed. I would absolutely like to add your Zinnia poem and photo to the end of Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery, if that is okay with you.

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