P is for Prose Poem


Prose Poem

“A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.”

Source – http://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/glossary-terms

William Carlos Williams’ prose poem, “This is Just to Say”, exemplifies the (in this case, cheeky) creativity that can go along with this form.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

O is for Onomatopoeia


No matter how hard I try, I will never memorize the correct spelling of our next poetry term:


A figure of speech in which the sound of a word imitates its sense (for example, “choo-choo,” “hiss,” or “buzz”).

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/glossary-terms

Here’s one of several great example from Natasha Niemi. The onomatopoeic words have been italicized.

To Grandma’s We Go

Rumble! Rumble!
The thunder roars.
Drip! Drip!
The rain comes down.
Boom! Boom!
The thunder shakes the window panes.
Run to the car! Run to the car!
Splash! Splash!
To Grandma’s we go
For hot cocoa.

N is for Neologism


I’ve pointed to Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” before. As it turns out, it’s a prime example of our next term:

Neologism (also Nonce word)

“A newly coined word.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/glossary

The jabberwock is, itself, a neologism, and the poem is filled with even more examples like “gimble” and “bandersnatch.”

Wikipedia has collected some possible definitions for the nonsense words that pepper the poem. For example, “mimsy” might be meant as a combination of “flimsy” and “miserable.”

Alice is confused, herself, but tries not to let on.

” ‘It seems very pretty,’ she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand!’ (You see, she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all)”

Brought to life in this 1870 John Tenniel sketch, I can’t imagine what’s not to get about this lovable little jabberwock. 😉


M is for Meter


Here’s an important basic:


“The rhythmical pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in verse. The predominant meter in English poetry is accentual-syllabic. See also accentual meter,syllabic meter, and quantitative meter. Falling meter refers to trochees and dactyls (i.e., a stressed syllable followed by one or two unstressed syllables).Iambs and anapests (i.e., one or two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one) are called rising meter.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/glossary-terms

While a foot refers to a single basic unit of measurement within a meter (say one iambic foot of one unstressed and one stressed syllable), think of meter as a way to describe a collection of feet. A series of iambic feet (unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, etc) establishes the verse as having an iambic meter.

Whether the meter is constant throughout, or switches (say, from iamb to trochee, or any of the other various rhythms), the selection should be meaningful and accentuate the work.

I couldn’t imagine this one from Shel Silverstein in prose. Excellent wind up for that zinger at the end.

Dirty Face

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?
I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got if from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

L is for Litotes


Did you know that there’s a term for a figure of speech that means the opposite of hyperbole? I didn’t, but it’s derived from the Greek word meaning “simple.”


“A deliberate understatement for effect. For example, a good idea may be described as ‘not half bad,’ or a difficult task considered ‘no small feat.’ Litotes is found frequently in Old English poetry.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/glossary-terms

That Dr Seuss fellow didn’t lack an imagination.


K is for ketchup


Or catch up, at any rate.

Forgive my absence. It was my birthday this past weekend and festivities were afoot.


Don’t let the floral bonnet fool ya. Fluffy and I were just about to hurl a pile of battle axes. 


The poetry term I meant to share back when the K post was due is this:


“A figurative compound word that takes the place of an ordinary noun. It is found frequently in Old Germanic, Norse, and English poetry, including The Seafarer, in which the ocean is called a ‘whale-path.’ ”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

Everyone knows that Dragons Love Tacos. Fluffy refers to his as crunch crunch joy joy. Surely that’s kenning-esque.

I love the inventive and personalized possibilities of the kenning. What are some of your favorite examples of proper or kenning-esque expressions?

J is for J/k!


Joke’s on me because I wasn’t able to find any poetry terms that start with the letter J, and I already used en(j)ambment. D’oh!

Since we’re on the subject of jokes and there’s no new vocab for today, I thought I’d share another limerick with a wicked punchline. Enjoy!

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

H and I are for Haiku and Iamb

H (1) I

Sorry, iamb late.

Ba da bum

Horrible puns aside, here’s your double dose of verse terms for the 9th day of the A to Z challenge.


“A Japanese verse form of three unrhyming lines in five, seven, and five syllables. It creates a single, memorable image.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

They don’t have to, but certainly can be humorous.

Winter Haiku

I wake, reluctant; 

Too cold to get out of bed

But I need to pee. 


Preferred by the likes of Shakespeare (iambic pentameter, more specifically) for most closely resembling the rise and fall found in natural English speech patterns, the iamb describes a foot consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable.

I’ll bet most of you know this one from Romeo and Juliet.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

G is for Ghazal


Here’s an interesting and lesser known poetic form. It was certainly new to me.

Ghazal (pronounced “guzzle”)

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

Here’s an excerpt from an English ghazal by Patricia Smith. “Hip-Hop Ghazal” is definitely not from the realm of kid lit, but I think it’s clever, sexy, and entertaining.

“As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.
Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping ‘tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.
Engines grinding, rotating, smokin’, gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.”

F is for Foot


F is also for other fancy poetic terms, but let’s begin with an important basic one:


“The basic unit of measurement of accentual-syllabic meter. A foot usually contains one stressed syllable and at least one unstressed syllable. The standard types of feet in English poetry are the iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee, and pyrrhic.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

To drive home the point, here’s how each of the specific, um, feet mentioned above look.

iamb (unstressed stressed)

“To be or not to be that is the question”

trochee (stressed unstressed)

“Double, double toil and trouble”

dactyl (stressed unstressed unstressed)

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

anapest (unstressed unstressed stressed)

“I am monarch of all I survey”

spondee (stressed stressed)

“By the shining Big-Sea-Water” (where Big-Sea-Wa are all stressed)

Pyrrhic (unstressed unstressed)

“When the blood creeps and the nerves prick” (where “when the” and “and the” are the pyrrics)

If these feet aren’t fancy enough, try out this form:

Found poem

“A prose text or texts reshaped by a poet into quasi-metrical lines.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

Slate writer Hart Seely found poetry in the speeches and news briefings of Donald Rumsfeld, and published his arrangements in his 2003 book, Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld. Here’s an excerpt:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.

We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

Is anyone daring enough to find poetry in this year’s election cycle? If you are, please share your results!