Rhythmic Tuesday

 I’m pleased to see that some of you are beginning to share you poetry on my website! I have really enjoyed reading the poems and look forward to seeing what you will share in the future!

 If you are interested in sharing your poetry here, click the Pearls of Poetry tab above and share away!

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*SCBWI

Are you a member of SCBWI?

SCBWI is an organization that is essential for you to belong to as a children’s writer. It stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Here is the link to the website: http://www.scbwi.org/

You will find everything you need to know about writing and illustrating for children here. There are local and national conferences, awards, grants, a resource, library, a place to sell your books, and much much more. Please check it out if you are not a member. There is an annual fee of $90.00 and it will be the best investment in your future that you will ever make.  I’m told many editors view your membership in SCBWI as the sign of a professional writer so make sure to add that into a cover letter when you submit a manuscript.

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When I began this journey to create RhyPiBoMo back in November of 2013, I started asking other writers who they suggested I ask to guest blog…Shutta Crum’s name kept coming back to me as quickly as I would ask the question!  She has been a delight to meet and I am thrilled that she is here to share her insight into scansion, meter and rhythm!

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So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s

Golden Quill Guest Blogger

Shutta Crum

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        Rhypibomo Guest Blogger Badge        Shutta Crum 1

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Tuning Your Ear to the Sound of Poetry

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Studies confirm that we hear sounds before we are born—our mother’s heartbeats, intestinal sounds, music, and the rise and fall of spoken language. Further, researchers have found that fetuses who are spoken to in a variety of pitches have an increased interest in sounds, and the inflections in sound, after birth. This is reflected in their heartbeats and brain activity.

* Now, isn’t that what happens to us as poetry lovers when we hear a poem that just “feels right?” Our hearts quicken, our brain activity trips over itself thinking about the poem. This makes sense, for poems are all about sound.

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To really savor a poem, I believe we need to hear it read aloud. Oh yes, the letters on the page and the physical body of a poem is important, too. It’s good to be able to see that, and even to trace our fingers over the printed page—touching the text and the spaces around it. But to really take a poem into ourselves the music of its language must be taken in through the ears. (If only we could eat them, and smell them, too!)

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One way writers catch clunkiness in poems, or prose, is to hear their work read aloud, either by the writer, or others. The ear is more precise in rooting out awkward phrases, discordant sounds, and clumsy rhythms than the eye. Some authors record themselves reading their work and then play that back, noting places where the work could be smoother.

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Some writers, like myself, also must strive to overcome regional dialects. My family is from the Appalachian region of Kentucky and West Virginia. Sometimes I hear words differently than others do. I’m aware of this, and will often have another read my work aloud for me. (Spouses are good for this!) And occasionally, I will listen to the pronunciations of some words using an online audio dictionary. This is just to make sure I’ve put the stresses in the right places—especially if I am working on a metrical piece.

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One of the most inspiring and helpful activities a poet can partake in is to attend poetry readings. Listen to others, their cadences, pitch, word choices, and yes . . . accents. Let yourself drift away on the melodies of the spoken word. Sure, you may not like the voices of some readers. And you may not agree with the message, or perspective, of some poems. But don’t worry about that too much. You’re there to listen to the rise and fall of our quirky language—the quick prick of impish “i” sounds, and lull of “u,” and those good, deep double “oo” sounds, too. And there’re all those soothing, or explosive, consonants, as well.

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These are the tools of our trade. We need to hear them in use—not just read them—before we can master our tools. And if you’re brave enough, go to a reading on an open mic night and let others hear you read. You may also come away with some valuable feedback. Finally, if you hear a poem and it just “feels right,” try to get a copy. Read it aloud, over and over. Try to figure out why it works for you. As a writer it isn’t enough to just know it works; you want to know why/how it works and how you can do that, too. Sometimes we simply love something because it is familiar—and that’s fine. A poem you love may use a measure that has become a cultural standard such as the ballad measure, or common measure. (Alternating four beat and three beat iambic lines rhyming aBaB, or aBcB, such as in America the Beautiful, Emily Dickinson’s poems, or hymns like Amazing Grace.)

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If a poem you love is in a standard metrical pattern such as those listed above, ask yourself: How can I work with this, change it, and still love it? And let me say that I believe all poems are lyrical—though some are a bit less so than others. This is due to a poem’s condensed nature. Generally, a poem has a great deal to accomplish in a small amount of time and space. (Note, there are always exceptions. Epic poetry can fill volumes!) There are insights, sensual details, probing questions, humor, pathos and epiphanies magically conjured. Lyricism facilitates all that, and more. With the right sounds we are lulled into a place where our defenses are down and we, as listeners and lovers of poetry, say “Here! I’ve opened my heart. Now, come in!”

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Isn’t that the point of it all?

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Bio: Shutta Crum is the author of numerous picture books and two novels. Most of her books have made “best book” and state reading lists around the country. THUNDER-BOOMER! was named an SLJ, ALA and Smithsonian Mag. “Notable Book” of the year. Of Shutta’s book MINE! the NY Times says: “. . . a delightful example of the drama and emotion that a nearly wordless book can convey.” DOZENS OF COUSINS, illustrated by the award-wining David Catrow, is her latest book. In 2005, Shutta was asked to read at the White House. In 2010 she was invited to tour American military base schools across Japan. For more: http://www.shutta.com .

* DOZENS OF COUSINS (Illustrated by the award-winning David Catrow). It’s written in free verse and started off as a poem I’d written for my parents as a kind of apology–years ago.

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Here are a few of Shutta’s books that you will want to read!

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Shutta Crum 4

 Dozens of Cousins. Clarion, 2013.

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 Shutta Crum 2

 Thunder Boomer! Clarion Books 2009

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Shutta Crum 3

Mine! Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

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Thank you Shutta Crum!

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RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Tuesday, April 8th

By Angie Karcher © 2014 Lesson 10

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Scansion, Meter vs. Rhythm

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Scansion is: when a writer uses a system of marking accented and unaccented syllables to analyze the meter in the poem.

Accented syllables are pronounced slightly louder and with more emphasis than unaccented syllables.

Poetry is arranged in lines and in patterns of accented and unaccented syllables called metrical feet.

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Once you can recognize and mark the accented/unaccented syllables in a line, you will become better at expressing the rhythmic flow you desire.

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Here is a great article on how to practice scansion:

http://www.ehow.com/how_10066149_mark-accented-syllables-poetry.html

Typically unstressed lines are marked with an upward curved symbol that looks like a smile.  It looks like this  ˘

There are many, many symbols that can describe the stress and unstressed parts of words depending on the teachings of various linguists.

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When researching scansion, meter and rhythm, I found this page online that perfectly and simply describes everything we need to know about rhythm, meter and scansion…as I am having a terrible time getting the website to accept all the symbols involved with scansion and the spacing is a complete nightmare, I am sharing this information from a teacher’s webpage he posted for his class. I take no credit in this information at all. It is fully Mr. Black’s words and research. I am simply sharing it for the sake of education and because it is so well said in it’s simplicity and content!  Plus, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here! I will not be this fortunate to find such a great lesson over our other topics…LOL

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Please refer to this link for today’s lesson:

The link: http://server.riverdale.k12.or.us/~bblack/meter.html

 

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Just so you know, Mr. Black is a 5th grade English teacher Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

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Writing Exercise: Try to scan these poem excerpts below?

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The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;

The berry’s cheek is plumper,

The rose is out of town. –Emily Dickinson

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Bats have webby wings that fold up;

Bats from ceilings hang down rolled up;

Bats when flying undismayed are;

Bats are careful; bats use radar; –Frank Jacobs, “The Bat”

 

Resources:

http://www.ehow.com/how_10066149_mark-accented-syllables-poetry.html

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Mr. Black, You are my Hero!

I’ve tried to come up with something to add to his information but without sounding redundant, that’s it in a nut shell! I feel odd not having typed all that out tonight, searching for better examples and then sharing them but it would have taken hours and then once transferred to my blog would have taken more hours to get the spacing right…so I am letting this one be. When it’s good, it’s good! This gives me more time to work on the next lesson. Ok…Guilt trip over! LOL

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Okay, now do everything else on the pledge for today and don’t forget to comment on today’s blog post!

RhyPiBoMo Pledge RhyPiBoMo Pledge Please comment ONLY ONE TIME below for a chance to win today’s prize! Prizes will be drawn by Random.com next Sunday for the previous week. To be eligible for a prize you must be a registered participant and comment after each days lessons!

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92 thoughts on “Rhythmic Tuesday

  1. Thank you, Shutta! I so agree with the importance of sound. I read that Margaret Wise Brown put lots of “shhh” sounds in Goodnight, Moon because that’s the sound we use to comfort babies. So she has mush, brush, hush–all with the shhhh sound babies love to hear.

  2. It is all beginning to make sense Angie.The lesson was just long enough,you certainly do not need any ‘guilt trip’! Thank you Dr.Black ( what a great name!) and to Shutta for being a great guest blogger today.

  3. The further I go the more feet I need, I think my ears are starting to bleed yet in my mind you planted a seed. Thank you Angie.Thank you Shutta. Thank you Mr Black.

  4. Shutta Crum, Right-on, sister! This is sooo useful. Since my picture book in verse is about a HAINT, I am confident that you know what a haint is. (Sigh,) now if only I could find an editor from the south who knows what a haint is, too.

  5. Shutta, it is great to see your smiling face again and gain from your rhyming wisdom. I like the suggestion to attend poetry readings.

    Angie, this lesson brought forth such clarity. And thanks for the share of Mr. Black’s article.

  6. Great post. I am going to have to check out those books by Shutta. I am also from Appalachia and I think I can relate to the ‘Dozens of Cousins.’ I grew up with a close knit dozens of cousins! And, I love her book covers. When I write, I use the function in Word that reads back to you what you write. I love it, but sometimes it will read words wrong and it brings a little giggle from me.

  7. Thank you for the wealth of information. So much to learn! I have a quick question if anyone can help me. How often can you change between, iamb, trochee, anapest & dactyl within a poem? Do you only flip between certain ones? Does it just come down to the amount of stresses per line? Please help!

  8. Love Shutta’s work and Wow! Mr. Black. Will pass this link on to my 5th grader’s English teacher. Fantastic!

  9. There is no substitute for practice, practice, practice to understand rhythm and meter. Thanks for the info & prompts!

  10. ❤️ CONFUSION…
    An Acatalectic Iambic Tetrameter! (I think!)
    – / – / – / – /

    The perfect rhyming picture book
    Is getting my poor brain quite shook!
    Don’t drop a beat or mix your feet,
    But do not endlessly repeat?

    Each day I hope to understand,
    Though, so far, things don’t run as planned.
    Perhaps tomorrow, or the next,
    I’ll master rhythmic sense from text!

  11. I also noted the “Dozens of Cousins” book – will definitely look it up. I like your lesson set-up: advice or information from a Guest Golden Quill Blogger, your lesson, and especially the practical application of the lesson in a writing exercise.

  12. Shutta, YES, it is all about inviting others in! Thank you. And I know a little girl who will relate to your book, “MINE.” 🙂 Angie, thanks for finding the lesson about scansion.

  13. I FINALLY know what scansion is!!! I thought I did – but I was wrong. Just read “Raccoon Tune” by Nancy Shaw – lots of different meter and such – I think I need to type it in and scan it! Great lesson for sure – this will help me TONS! Thanks, Angie!

  14. I love how each lesson builds on previous lessons. Writing and verse are not an easy combination for me, but I am learning the mechanics of it.

  15. Angie, no need to apologize for this lesson that was excellent! I was stunned to learned that you are holding RhyPiBoMo for the first time this April. Your guest bloggers and your lessons are fantastic. I feel amazingly lucky to be part of this group.

  16. Love this from Mr. Black’s piece: “To scan a poem is one way to indicate how to read it aloud; in order to see where stresses fall, you have to see the places where the poet wishes to put emphasis. That is why when scanning a poem you may find yourself suddenly understanding it.” FANTASTIC POST!

    Here is another helpful sheet for scanning a poem:

    Click to access SCAN%20A%20POEM.pdf

  17. I liked the reminder from Mr. Brown’s article that “most poems do not employ the same rhythm throughout…variety in rhythm is not only desirable, it is a necessity…or else the poem marches robot-like to its grave.” Thanks to Shutta Crum, Angie and Mr. Brown. A plus from today’s lesson: I’m making progress learning to spell the word ‘rhythm.’

  18. One of my favorite rhyming books is The Circus Ship by Chris van Dusen. But I always thought it could use a few breaks in the meter, where the characters were speaking so I could imitate their voice instead of cruising right through. I always tried, but it was challenging. However, the great story & illustrations made up for my minor struggle to break cadence in order to sound stern.

  19. Thanks for the information about scanning poetry because that’s where I feel like I’m can’t write what I’d like. Maybe that’s why a lot of writers say don’t write in rhyme.

  20. Thank you, Shutta, for the blog regarding scansion. Your wisdom is appreciated.

    Angie, you and Mr. Black gave a scansion lesson that answered so may of my questions. I have plenty more questions, but I know the answers will be in future lessons. Thank you for this great opportunity to learn the correct way to write and read rhyme.

  21. Thanks for the great advice, Shutta! And thanks, too, Mr. Black and Angie for the great info on scanning and rhythm – very helpful!

  22. It is much easier to scan those poems than my story! I do love Emily Dickinson – so I am glad she made the homework file.

  23. Thanks to Angie and Mr. Black – I always find it very helpful to try to analyze the meter in poetry, so this was a good exercise for me. I enjoyed Shutta’s lyrical post and will check out her books pronto!

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