RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 7 Samuel Kent

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RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 7

Samuel Kent

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Guest Blogger Badge RPBM 15 Sam Kent


I was introduced to today’s blogger last year when participating in Ed DeCaria’s Think Kid Think March Madness Poetry Tournament. His poem, Ampersand was the winning poem and it was SO spectacular I had to share it with you here today!


*ampersand was the word Sam had to use in his poem.
A Letter on Behalf of Ampersand 2014
by Samuel Kent

Dearest teachers & assistants,
Please adhere to this insistence.

It’s our mission to petition –
for its overdue admission:

alphabetical addition
of the letter Ampersand.

Though it neatly nestles nicely
‘twixt the “Y & Z” precisely,

and has a certain function
as a substitute conjunction,

we confess with calm compunction,
it’s abused as merely “and”.

We believe we have a duty
to this hieroglyphic beauty.

Let its usage be expanded:
written right- or leftward-handed,

“a – n – d” is ampersanded!
That’s our solemn, sole demand.

Think of effort we’d be saving
giving sentences a shaving,

making phrases much less “and”-y
& a lot more ampersandy

adding simple, shortened candy
to the words we write by hand.

With accelerated fleetness
we’d complete with nimble neatness

every note or memorandum —
spelling wouldn’t seem as random —

with the ampersand in tandem
at our everyday command.

With respect, we share our letter
for this character that’s better.

Signed sincerely by
******************& Mir&a
on behalf of Ampersand.

And with that piece of BRILLIANT word art shared, I am thrilled to introduce

Samuel Kent!


RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather


Quality Poetry is Stressful: Meter and Metric Feet


Often when poets first begin to craft poems, their primary focus is rhyme. Sometimes, this comes at the expense of adhering to a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in their lines.

So what’s the big deal? You got the messy business of rhymes in your poem perfectly. Why be bound to rules of meter and metrical feet? And what does that mean anyway?

Arguments of metered and meter-less writing styles aside, employing rhythmic patterns usually makes a poem easier to read. If you use a meter pattern, the reader isn’t surprised by speedbumps of words that just don’t feel right, or lines that don’t flow because stresses and inflections are out of order. Metrical feet and meters make poems feel more like natural speech.

Let’s talk first about metrical feet. Feet are really about the pattern of the stressed and unstressed syllables in your poems. There are several common feet patterns that that meter-loving poets will employ. Here are just a few of the most common:

The Iamb (short-long)
Iambs are segments of lines of poems where the inflections alternate between unstressed (short) and stressed (long) syllables, starting with an unstressed syllable.

Let’s TRAvel INto SPACE, my FRIEND

and TO the SHIning MOON.


to SPEED you ON aLONG your TRIP

with BANG and BOOM and ZOOM and ZIP,

I’ll TRAvel BY ballOON.

The Trochee (long-short)

If your stresses are in the other order, alternating with stressed (long) and unstressed (short) syllables but starting with a stressed syllable, you’re using a trochee foot:

DEBbie’s DAFfy About DAIsies, AND for MARiGOLDS she’s CRAZED.

SHE’S gone KOOky FOR chrySANtheMUMS. BeGONias HAVE her DAZED.

SHE’S plain MAD for PREtty FLOWers: EVery PETal, STEM, and SEED,



Some feet, like the amphibrach, the anapest, and the dactyl have three beats per foot.

The Amphibrach (short-long-short)

An amphibrach is a three syllable pattern starting with unstressed syllable, then a stressed syllable, then another unstressed syllable before repeating

WiNOna aWOKE from her DREAMing with DREAD

to FIND she had TOO many DUCKS in her BED.

Well, EVEn one DUCK in the BED was abSURD,

but HALF of her BLANKets were COVered with BIRD.


The Anapest (short-short-long)

Lead with two unstressed syllables and then a long syllable when repeating, and you’re using an anapest foot:

There’s an O-cean of BOOKS around ME

stretching OUT for as FAR as I SEE.

It’s as DEEP and as WIDE as can BE.

I am LOST in an Ocean of BOOKS.

The Dactyl (long-short-short)

I misses YOUR kisses ALL over MY face

I’M dying, NO lying, WITHout your EMbrace

YOUR presence IS pleasance I ache to BE near

I only FEEL lonely UNless you ARE here.


Notice that sometimes the stresses are implied. A short or unstressed syllable can be skipped at the end of lines and sticking to the foot pattern is still there. The reader fills in the space with a rest.

Of course there are feet that employ four syllables per foot as well. These are called Paeons. Most paeons are primarily unstressed syllables with a stressed syllable one out of every four beats.

The Quartus Paeon (short-short-short-long):

On every STARry summer NIGHT

when old man MOON is shining BRIGHT

and all the FROGS in granddad’s POND begin to SING,

While cricket CHORus chirps and CHEEPS

A thousand BUGgy voices BEEP

But listen CLOSEly, you’ll hear BILL the Froggy KING

That’s metrical feet, but what is meter? Meter is simply the number of repeated metrical feet per line. Meter can really make for a solid rhythm when combined with consistent use of metrical feet.

If your lines consist of four iambs, you’re employing iambic TETRAMETER:

We HAVE a CLUB for EATing WORMS. (four feet here)

We LOVE the WAY they WRITHE and SQUIRM, (one, two, three, four)

and ON the WEEKends WHEN we MEET, (yep, four)

we ALways BRING some WORMS to EAT. (four feet in this line too)

If you’ve studied Shakespeare, you’re probably familiar with his preferred meter, Iambic PENTAMETER, which are lines consisting of five (penta) Iambs per line (meter).

We’re HUNgry FOR a PLACE we’ve NEVer SEEN: (feet per line)

The LAND of SWEETS and FINE GourMET CuisINE. (another five feet)

We WANT to CLIMB the MOUNTains MADE of CHEESE (five feet again)

and SWIM in ONE of SIX spaGHETti SEAS. (see the pattern?)


And so if your poem’s lines used three iambs per line, you’d be employing Iambic TRIMETER:


My DOG is SO unIQUE.


but ALL he SEEMS to SAY

is, “HEY! come ON, let’s PLAY!”

And you can do this with all forms of feet. Anapestic Tetrameter would be lines composed of four anapests. Amphibrachic Trimeter would have lines consisting of three amphibrachs.

Complicated naming conventions of feet and meter aside, what’s the point? The point is using feet and meter consistently to improve the quality of poems. A reader might be unpleasantly surprised to read your poem written in iambic feet to suddenly come across something written in trochee. This might also be true if every line in a poem contained five iambs only to stumble on a line that contained seven. The patterns established in the first lines of the poem are an implied contract that this is the pace and rhythm of what follows. The key, again, is consistency toward quality, and meter and feet are powerful tools to help you accomplish this.


About Samuel:

Samuel Kent has been writing childrens poetry for nearly 25 years. He is the 2014 champion in the Think, Kid, Think! March Madness poetry competition and has been honored as the 2014 Poet Laureate of Helena, Alabama. His poetry posts for his weekday “Lunchbox Doodles” project can be found at http://i.droo.it.

RhyPiBoMo 2015 tiles with bird

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt:7

This is NOT part of the pledge. It is an option for a writing exercise for those interested. You will not publically share this as part of RhyPiBoMo but may keep a journal of your writing this month for your own review.

Today’s writing prompt is to write a poem “Shakespeare Style” in Iambic Pentameter. Remember, that’s five (penta) Iambs per line (meter).




*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather


The RhyPiBoMo 2015 Barnes and Noble BookFair is this Saturday, April 11th!

I have been asked to give a talk at my local Barnes and Noble in Evansville, Indiana on Maya Angelou during Educator’s Week. I combined my talk to include tidbits about Maya’s life and poetry with diversity in children’s books. What a wonderful opportunity to discuss poetry and diversity all in one talk! Thus, Barnes and Noble agreed to offer a BookFair all day on April 11th and 20% of all the sales that day will go to WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS for all who use this coupon. It is good for sales in store and on-line so PLEASE support this worthy non-profit and buy lots and lots of books! Pass out coupons to friends and family too! Let’s support poetry and diversity in children’s books!

B&N Coupon


Rhyming Critique Groups


If you are interested in joining a rhyming critique group go to the RhyPiBoMo Facebook group and add your name to the post concerning critique groups. Dawn Young will organize the groups and contact you once your group is formed and ready to go. We will need one person in each group to volunteer to be the Admin for the group so please state that you are interested in your comment on Facebook.

Thank you Dawn for organizing and running these groups!

We have several groups still going strong from last year!

We will not organize critique groups outside of Facebook this year. If you are interested in forming a critique group outside of Facebook, please comment about that in your reply to this post and add your name and email address so anyone else interested can contact you directly.



RhyPiBoMo Gift Shop is Open!

Cafepress mug


Please stop by and see what’s available this year. There are notebooks, mugs, buttons and more. All proceeds will go to WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS!

Thank you Tanja Bauerle for these gorgeous images!!!




Add both your FIRST and LAST names to your daily comment! This is what enables you to be eligible for a prize that day. Many people are forgetting!! I request this because the reply section doesn’t give me your name unless it’s a part of your email address. And even then sometimes it’s very hard for me to figure out the exact name.

How I choose daily winners…Late each Saturday night, I will go back to Monday’s comments and count how many there are. I then type that number into a randomizer program that choose a number for me. I count from the first post down to that number and that is the daily winner. If that post doesn’t have a first and last name listed it will not win. I will then go to the next post that has a first and last name listed. I will do this for each day of the week and announce the winners on the following Monday.

Please DO NOT go back now and add another comment now as I need each person to only comment one time to keep things fair. Thanks!

Good Luck and ADD YOR FIRST and LAST NAME to your comment!!!! = )



*Official Registration ends at Midnight April 8th,Wednesday night central time for 2015.

If you are not officially registered you may not enter the Golden Quill Poetry Contest, participate in Rhyming Critique Groups or will not be eligible for daily prizes.

Please continue to read and enjoy the daily posts!

To see if you are registered go to the Master Registration List on the drop down menu under the RhyPiBoMo Blog tab above.


*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Pledge

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163 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 7 Samuel Kent

  1. Samuel, I really like your poem. How inventive! Thank you for this wonderful post. It was both a refresher and informative. I had not heard to the Amphibrach and the Quartus Paeon. I am really excited to go experiment with these two meters. Maria Marshall

  2. Samuel, Thank you for your inspiring work on meter and metric feet. And – I love your winning poem. I’m still smiling. – Judy Rubin

  3. Thanks for the great review of meter and metric feet. It’s always helpful to keep in mind when writing poetry. And I love your winning poem from 2014 March Madness contest–congrats!

    • Thank you, Kristi! And thank you for visiting my site as well and commenting there.

      I’m an evangelist for strict meter. While I don’t have proof, I am of the firm belief that meter = pattern helps kids bridge between mathematics and reading.

    • Not for writing per se, but what I might recommend is reading more by poets who are strictest with their meter and really trying to pick apart the patterns they use. Jack Prelutsky and Kenn Nesbitt are your best bets, or you can visit my blog daily: http://i.droo.it/

    • Thank you, Sara Cate. The key to remember is that these are just tools. What I want to stress most of all (pun perhaps intended) is the part that the early lines establishing the meter pattern are like a contract to the reader that says “this is the rhythm of all that follows”.

      One important thing to remember too is that you can alternate meter and feet line by line.

  4. Definitely some complicated naming conventions. With terms like ‘amphibrach’ and ‘dactyl’, I keep thinking of dinosaurs. 🙂 Loved the examples and it really helps! I could have used those great examples when starting out because I just couldn’t hear the rhythm then and my meter was all over the place. Thanks!

  5. Lori Mozdzierz:

    Samuel, A Letter on Behalf of Ampersand is uber clever! A well deserved win 😉
    Your explanation and examples of metrical feet and meter is a definite bookmark!

  6. Appreciations from Jan Annino/bookseedstudio for Angie & Samuel.

    Samuel Kent’s “A Letter on Behalf of Ampersand 2014” is a treat & a toot!
    We recently gifted our post-college grad gal with an & necklace, as it is a favorite family trope for us.
    As for this kids’s writer, a remedial student in feet & meter (the poetic kind) this post is a gre8t refresher & informer, about rhythm forms/names I need to inhale & exhale as I write poetry.

  7. Great poem! Very helpful to review meter and feet – a couple of terms I hadn’t heard of. Although I prefer the terms meter and feet – I understand now.

  8. Excellent primer, Kent regarding the importance of meter and stress-unstressed in making poems easier to read. Thank you. Val McCammon

  9. Samuel, I appreciate the lesson in meter. My ear often tricks me into believing I have followed a stress-unstressed pattern. And some words like “TO” are can be either.

    • This happens to me too, all of the time. Especially when I want so badly for a word to fit but it goes against the meter grain. I’ve also learned from some overseas friends and poets that the way we inflect in some words doesn’t translate well… how disappointing!

      • I’ve heard that’s a problem with rhyming. Many agents and editors don’t like rhyming texts because they don’t translate into other languages well.

  10. Melanie Ellsworth – This was an excellent review of meter, and I learned two terms I hadn’t heard before – “amphibrach” and “quartus paeon.” I was a bit confused by the dactyl form because I would have placed the emphasis on different syllables when reading that aloud. Loved your ampersand poem, Samuel, particularly the bit after “sincerely.” I’ve found the site rhymeweaver.com to be another great place to review meter.

    • I completely see your point on the dactyl, and you’re perfectly right to read it that way too. If you read it such that the emphasis is short-long-long, that’s called a bacchius foot. Here’s another bacchius tetrameter:

      Eat beetles for breakfast
      all shiny and black.
      Try some for your supper
      or afternoon snack.
      Eat two during tea time
      or gulp them at lunch.
      They may look disgusting…
      …you’ll love how they crunch.


      That one also brings up the complicated question of “what happened to the last beat on even numbered lines?” When you read it, if you still feel the beat there as a natural place to take a breather, that’s an implied beat, called a caesura.

      Just goes to show that you can read something in your head for years and it’s not what someone else may hear when they read it for themselves.

      • Thank you, Samuel! I’ve got lots to learn about meter. I like what you said about the caesura; I sometimes worry about editors not wanting to see rhyming picture books that don’t exactly stick to the meter, but it’s probably more about how it reads out loud (or at least, it should be).

  11. Rachel Hamby
    A most helpful post, Samuel. While reading, I had a flashback to reading dinosaur books to my son when he was younger. I’ll have to plug some of these poetic terms into dictionary.com to get the pronunciations right! Meter is sometimes difficult for me to figure out in my own writing and in pieces I read. More reading will hopefully equal better understanding, and this info today is great.

    • I definitely recommend spending time learning the patterns. Grab some of your son’s rhyming picture books that “feel right” when reading them aloud, but even great poems with a lot of rhythmic bounce might not stick to any particular meter. Read Ogden Nash’s “Custard the Dragon” for an example of that.

  12. Sandy Powel — Your poem was very creative. I enjoyed it very much. For me personally I learn by reading and seeing examples, and your post was just what I needed to understand the rules of meter and metrical feet. Thank you!

  13. Hi Samuel, What a great post. I have come to a better understanding of meter from your examples. I find it interesting that in Quartus Paeon the stressed syllables in the words “every” and “summer” are not the stressed syllables in the line itself. Is this something that happens more often in longer meter (is that the correct way to ask? does it make any sense?) :/ Thanks again, Rene` Aube

    • I understand what you’re asking. There are a lot of reasons this happens. The meter can force the inflection in longer feet. Without getting into the complicated, not all of the feet in existences are mentioned here. There are feet with light stresses and dominant stresses, and in truth, that’s what you have here.

      As an aside, I’m of the opinion that Paeons often work best for lyrical poems, and in fact, “Bill the King” – the poem containing those lines was written first as lyrics to a tune. And then there are subtle factors: regional dialects at play (I of the Southern persuasion).

  14. I love having this info about meter and feet summarized. Great poem too! Thanks for the post. Danielle Hammelef

    • Thank you! This really just begins to touch on the topic, but once you understand these concepts, the rest is just an ability to recognize that a pattern exists and following it.

    • Thank you! I highly recommend everyone applying for the contest next year. I’ve made some good friends through the competition and the challenge really sharpens your skills in many ways.

  15. Annie Bailey — Great post! Every time I read about this topic I understand a little more. I was a little confused on the Dactyl. To my ears the stresses fall a little differently than indicated, but I really loved how you went through the common foot patterns and showed how each pattern works in an actual poem. Enjoyed your Ampersand poem as well!

    • A couple of people have mentioned that now, and I’m able to read it that way myself if I think about it. Let me give a better example…

      STELla mcGELla with ELegant HAIR…
      GIVing her MIRror aNOTHer long STARE
      TIES it in RIBbons and BRUSHes it BIG.
      EVeryone KNOWS that she’s WEARing a WIG.

      We’re closer with this one. The first two lines might tell the reader that we’re mostly using dactyls, and when the emphasis restarts with the first syllable on the second line, it implies “take a two beat break between lines”.

  16. Vicki Wilke
    Samuel – thank you so much for the meter information! I taught young children for 33 years and have read and written a lot of rhyme. As I read your post, I realized I have written primarily in the Iamb or the Amphibrach, without really thinking about it. But do you think it is okay to deviate sometimes, when reading it aloud sounds smooth? In trying to get published, we are told to be very strict with rhyme and meter, but in the actual reading of it, it seems that there are exceptions and variations that really sound okay. What do you think? Your & poem by the way, was amazing.

    • Vicki Wilke
      Samuel – thank you so much for the meter information! I taught young children for 33 years and have read and written a lot of rhyme. As I read your post, I realized I have written primarily in the Iamb or the Amphibrach, without really thinking about it. But do you think it is okay to deviate sometimes, when reading it aloud sounds smooth? In trying to get published, we are told to be very strict with rhyme and meter, but in the actual reading of it, it seems that there are exceptions and variations that really sound okay. What do you think? Your & poem by the way, was amazing.

    • I’ve been told that Shakespeare chose the Iambic Pentameter because it mostly matched how English speakers speak. I find myself using Iambs and Amphibrachs most to.

      It is entirely possible to deviate when it sounds smooth. It’s also possible to mix and match. I have this poem that uses Iambic Tetrameter and Amphibrachic Trimeter in alternating lines:

      Ten million friends are on my skin…
      I’m covered all over in fleas!
      They crawl about and out and in
      and bite me whenever they please.

      What’s that you say? Wash them away
      or shave myself totally bare?
      or choke them out with poison spray?
      I’d miss them if they weren’t there.

      See, I don’t mind these bugs of mine
      that gnaw me and nip to the bone.
      No matter how I itch and whine,
      it’s better than being alone.

      Come here. Sit near, oh won’t you please?
      and soon you’ll be bug-bitten too.
      The greatest part of having fleas
      is getting to share them with you.

  17. Samuel,

    Thank you so much for the post. As a former drama teacher who made my students study Shakespeare for his beautiful rhythmic sonnets, I can appreciate the effort it takes to write it. Thanks again!

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