Poetry Friday: Word Play

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write Word Play poems, introduced to the Poetry Friday community in 2015 by Nikki Grimes as one of Michelle H. Barnes’ (Today’s Little Ditty) Ditty of the Month challenges. Laura Purdie Salas showed how the form might work in a classroom.

I have two poems this month. The first came about because of this conversation on FaceBook with Poetry Sister Kelly:

This second poem was written more in the style of Poetry Sister Laura’s “Freedom is a Word” (one of my all-time favorite poems of hers).

Don’t forget to join the Winter Poem swap…
if you’re so inclined. More info here.

Linda has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance, and check out how all the rest of the Poetry Sisters met this month’s challenge:

Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

You’re invited to join the Poetry Sisters’ challenge for the month of November! We’re writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often meant to be sung. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you’ll join us! You can share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

25 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Word Play”

  1. I am so in love with the two similar but very different things you did here, Mary Lee. First, a poem about grammar and placeholders full of exquisite metaphors, and then a poem that deconstructs a word and reengineers it to be so much more than an empty exhortation. My is overflowing!


    1. I typed “My [sauerkraut] is overflowing!” with the v-brackets and it disappeared on posting! How interesting.


  2. Mary Lee, please pass the noun and the persevere to me this week. What a wonderful combination of word play poems. I love seeing the conversation that inspired you. I find inspiration is so many ways. It’s paying attention, taking notice, then doing something with it that makes you the poetry mentor that you are.


  3. I’m right with you on passing the nouns! Many nouns escape me, too, ending up “in the pea soup fog of memory.” And your deconstruction of “persevere” is spot on. Well done!


  4. So much to love here, Mary Lee — including that funny exchange with Kelly! Pass the noun indeed. I have to say, I can really feel the teacher in you in that Persevere posm — it makes me want to try!! Gorgeous!


  5. A lighthouse in the pea soup fog of memory! Yes! Pass the Noun, Please is fabulous. I get so annoyed when I can’t think of a word (yes, always a noun) and Randy (for some unknown reason) can’t read my mind–ha! And your Persevere poem is so masterful. I love severe coming along tapping the ruler and the many ways you incorporated the actual letters of the word to such great effect. To do that AND say meaningful things, too–my [noun]’s off to you! (Thanks for the lovely Freedom shout-out, too!)


  6. I’m giggling over how you slant rhymed noun with bloodhound—the perfect ending to that wonderful search of a poem. And your take on persevere is both funny and compassionate and inspiring…you really take us on the roller coaster of what “keep at it” means. I hope you write many more of these word play poems, Mary Lee—you’re a natural.


  7. I love both of these poems so much! The first two stanzas of “Persevere” are just golden. It keeps running through my head, encouraging me on. Great job!


  8. I think I love this most because this is also a pronunciation primer. I shall treasure the sever in persevere! I crack up at the image of her smacking her palm with a ruler. Yep… that’s about what my “don’t you dare quit” always sounds like. I love it.


  9. HUH! It’s knew something was going on…but I didn’t realize it was verbs. Names of people–proper nouns rank #1 for me. Thanks for putting into words an experience I really get. And, love ‘Perseverance.” That word just never gives up, does it?! Thanks to Kelly for the spark that led to your word play greatness.


  10. “In the peas soup fog of memory”-maybe I should be part of Pass the Noun please. Sometimes my family looks at me oddly when the word does not shoot out from my mouth. LOL-Life goes on. Perseveree poem has some humor and truth in it. Great job!


  11. “At least for now, it’s a downhill slope” offers the hope we all need, Mary Lee. As for “pass the nouns”, seems so silly to disremember ‘sauerkraut’, yet it happens with the strangest words (though most are nouns). Thanks for both poems, Mary Lee, & happy hunting for the nouns!


  12. Oh, Mary Lee, we have a new phrase now for our home, “Pass the noun.” Your first poem is brilliant. “the bloodhound that rescues me” — Yes, it will be a great hack! And your persevere poem has inspired me to give a word play poem a try. I have greatly enjoyed your post today.


  13. Mary Lee, what wonderful responses to this challenge. I can so relate to that ! And I love the idea of a p throwing down an anchor. It’s so fun to think of letters and words the way you do in that poem. Such animated, active participants with minds of their own.


  14. Mary Lee, these are both wonderful! Your noun poem made me laugh, and feel better about my own particular nouns that seem to go awol … and I just love your perseverance poem. I’m bookmarking that one as a favorite. Thanks for sharing these with us today!


  15. I’m in awe of your persevere poem. I love the way you deconstructed the word. I also loved that the poem gathered steam as it moved towards the ending, almost highlighting the grit of the word.

    Your Pass the noun poem made me laugh, and think about all the words I lose. And yes, they’re nouns!


  16. These are both so fun! I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who needs a noun passed every now and then – okay, all the time. Sometimes I think it is why I like poetry so much as the noun isn’t nearly as required as the description. It’s what makes first graders amazing poets.

    You nailed persevere.

    I keep trying to figure out how you keep up with all the community events the way you do. It’s impressive!


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