When I think about poetry, six thoughts flash into my mind, and one thought that rattles my being so much that my socks bounce off. Okay, not exactly-that is, poets sometimes exaggerate a little. I've told my students that a thousand times. Here's what you need to know about poetry, including the socks launcher:

1. Poetry can be about any topic - from bugs to friendships, from happy times to sad times. So you can write about any topic that wanders into your mind. shel silverstein poems There are no restrictions on topics or months like February or April to write poetry.

2. Poetry doesn't have to rhyme, but look for repetition of words and certain word patterns. Free verse, which is unrhymed poetry, is also an important way to write poetry. In the free verse how a poem looks on the page is crucial to the poet and reader.

3. Poetry creates pictures and colors in our heads with as few words as possible. Those images can be about nature or anything that matters to you. You have the power at your fingertips to create whatever you like. Whatever you "picture" can become a poem. It's all up to the pictures or images that you form with your words. If I say "little wagon", I bet that I know what color it was. Was it "red"? See, some objects even have colors attached to them without even being described. Yes, words can be powerful.

4. Poetry is lean and you have to read in between the lines. Poets aren't usually wordy people. They like to stick to the point with as few words as possible. The poets words are like high-test gas or chocolate syrup on top of the sundae. Sometimes you have to read in between the lines or guess intelligently at what the poet is truly saying. So, a sense of mystery can be a part of a poets bag of tricks too.

5. Poets use "tools" to construct their poems such as repetition, alliteration, personification, metaphor, meter, similes, and onomatopoeia. Clap! Clap! Clap! Did you think that I was clapping for you because you read this far without falling asleep? No, the clapping is an example of onomatopoeia, which is a long fancy word meaning that the word itself sounds like the noise it makes.

6. When life is happy or sad, poetry can help you share your feelings. I think that's a rather important tip about poetry. Poetry can get the sad out. Once we have written about a negative experience, we have corralled it and put it in a place in our brain matter where it will bother us less. At least that's been my experience. We can also put our good feelings into our writing experience. I once had a student do that about me, which leads to the Knock Your Socks Off Poetry Tip.

7. The Sock Launcher Poetry Tip: If you want to write about someone with true knowledge and understanding, you have to take off or rip off your socks and walk in their shoes (or moccasins) for miles and miles. In other words, you have to step into their life and see what the world is like from their viewpoint. What if you could spend 180 days with that person for the best hours of the day? Would that be enough time to observe and understand what makes him or her tick? That's exactly what one of my students did while he was in my fourth grade class.

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