So this week, we're supposed to find humor (according to the--totally optional--prompt at Poetry Thursday).

I don't write humorous poetry. Well, not any for public consumption (Don't we all play with limericks now and again? Or is that just me? Don't answer that.). And, in thinking about this prompt, I struggled. I can't think of any particularly humorous poetry--that was meant to be funny--I've read in years. There's my lame excuse for finally getting around to posting this week.

So, I got to thinking about the poetry I used when I taught elementary school. When working with third graders, one doesn't use Poe or Dickinson to teach poetry. Instead, you find Shel Silverstein (see link below) or Jack Prelutsky and you let them giggle their little heads clean off. Then you can do silly things like sharing some Frost or Whitman--the lighter stuff, of course.

I remember being introduced to Shel Silverstein's poetry. It was second grade and we read "I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor." It chronicles being eaten alive by a massive snake, starting with the toes and ending with the nose. It's hilarious! And it's the only poem I've ever memorized for school that I can still recite perfectly--and that was, ugh, almost 23 years ago. I use it now to show new interpers in my speech classes how to own the poetry they are reading.

And it was that poem, 10 years later that I thought about when my high school creative writing teacher told us to quit writing about our imagined angst and have fun with what we were doing. She pointed out that yes, words should speak to you in ways other than just mere language, but not everything we write has to be so visceral. Some things can appeal to just your funny bone.

I think that's probably also when I made the connection between poetry and music. I'd always known that, in essence, lyrics are just poetry, but I'd never really connected that the effect words-put-to-music had on me could be found in words on paper. It opened up a whole new world for me and my writing.

Sure, I still don't write funny poetry. But I stopped being so caught up in my perceived distress (which I can tell you now was really non-existent) and just wrote.

I never would've thought a rhyme about a kid being eaten by a constrictor could have such an effect on my writing self. I mean, come 'on, it's aimed at kids, right????

See some neat things and hear some audio recordings of a few poems.
Shel Silverstein
I about flipped when I did a search for this site. In the site engine blurb, the main link says "Shel Silverstein - the Official Site for Kids - Choose Speed." I did a doubletake and quickly clicked on it--it wanted the viewer to choose high or low bandwidth. That was NOT my first thought!

And to see this week's other offerings, visit Poetry Thursday.
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3 Response to "Teehee"

  1. twitches says:
    Jul 14, 2006, 7:46:00 AM

    I teach high school, and Shel still works for the kids. By that age they've become convinced poetry is some up-in-the-clouds sort of thing they'll never understand, and I can't tell you how much teenagers LOVE to read children's poetry!

    A part of us is always a giggling little kid. :)

  2. Colorsonmymind says:
    Jul 14, 2006, 12:03:00 PM

    The connection between music and poetry is a strong one for me-especially now that I am learning to appreciate both a lot more.

  3. Emily says:
    Jul 14, 2006, 3:05:00 PM

    Have you read the newly releaseed Runny Babbit? Apparently he was working on it before his death and his family just recently published. It's very playful and fun!

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