Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to Write a Talent-Show Poem

This idea comes from an email I received from Meadowbrook Press.

How to Write a Talent-Show Poem

Like Robert Pottle's hilarious poem, "The Kindergarten Concert," a "talent-show" poem uses the same rhythm and rhyme pattern as "Miss Lucy Had a Turtle" and can be sung to the same tune.

Miss Lucy had a turtle.          (A-3) da DUM da DUM da DUM da
She called him Tiny Tim.      (B-3) da DUM da DUM da DUM 
She put him in the bathtub,   (C-3) da DUM da DUM da DUM da
To see if he could swim.       (D-3) da DUM da DUM da DUM

The letters listed in parentheses on the right reflect the rhyme pattern; it's an ABCB poem, which means that the last word in the 2nd line (Tim) rhymes with the last word in the 4th line (swim).The number 3 next to the letters means that there are 3 beats in each line. If you clap as you recite the poem, you'll notice that you clapped 3 times as you recited each line. Notice that the last word in the first and third lines have two syllables (DUM da) and the last words in the second and fourth lines have only one syllable (DUM).

Now that you know the rhythm and rhyme pattern and can hum the "Miss Lucy" tune, let's get to work describing your talented classmates. Write down the names of kids in your class who have funny or weird talents:
-Is there someone who sings much too loud?
(Let's call her Mimi or any name with two syllables.)
-Is there someone who can wiggle his ears?
(Let's call him Will or any name with one syllable.)
-Is there someone who can vibrate her eyes?
(Let's call her Jill or any name with one syllable.)

What other talents do your friends have? Is anyone double-jointed or flexible? Can someone burp the ABCs? Does someone's violin give you headaches because it's so squeaky? Can someone throw M&M's in the air and catch them in their mouth?

Add them to the list and try to write some funny new verses (with four lines). The test of each new 4-line verse is: 
1) Can you sing them to the same ("Miss Lucy") tune?
2) Do they have just enough syllables to fit the song?
3) Do they have 3 da DUMs in each line?
4) Does each 4-line verse have an ABCB rhyme pattern?

Here's a Talent Show poem I just wrote to give you an example of what yours might be like. As you can see, it helps to have surprise ending.

My Classmates Are So Talented

Our class put on a talent show.
I was the talent scout.
Our talents were so awful that
our parents all walked out.

Will was wiggling both his ears
He flapped them all around.
He hoped to fly to Paris
 but, could not get off the ground.

Mimi sang so loudly;
we had to plug our ears.
Even so, her shrieking
had the audience in tears.

Jill vibrated both her eyes.
But it was hard to see.
When I got real close to look
she gave a kiss to me.

I'm planning the next talent show,
while riding on the bus.
We'll ask our teachers to perform.
I think they're worse than us. 

© copyright 2015 by Bruce Lansky.

This is just one of the useful Poetry Lessons in the "Poetry Class" section on There are 40 different lessons here!   Find a lesson you like and write a poem during April (to celebrate Poetry Month).

If you try this, please share some of your poems!
What are some of you favorite poetry lessons?  I would love to see them!

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