Firework is a song that uses a lot of comparisons to explain feelings. “Like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind.” “Like a house of cards/One blow from caving in.” Comparisons can make writing much more powerful than simple statements. How boring this song would have been if she had said, “Do you ever feel sad and insignificant? Like your world isn’t stable?”
Poets and Songwriters Love Comparisons
OPTION A. Grab a piece of paper. Write down 2-3 emotions, next to each emotion write or draw an image to go with it. An example from “Firework” might be “Sad. Plastic bag drifting.” An example from your imagination might be “Happy. A vase of sunflowers.”
Poets Don’t Always Say things Directly. Read A Blessing, by James Wright. At the very end of the poem, what do you think he is feeling? And what is he comparing himself to (hint: what could break into blossom)?
Write a Poem about Your Feelings
As mentioned, Perry uses a LOT of comparisons in “Firework”. Poets tend to prefer to use fewer comparisons. Pick one of your comparisons and use it to write a poem about a feeling.
Poets usually break their lines before they get to the end of the page. You can learn more about line breaks and white space through thisvideo.
Option A. Write a poem about a feeling. Use a comparison to help your reader understand what the feeling is like. Use some strong action verbs to talk about what you do when you feel that way. Remember to think about where you want to break your lines.
Option B. If you need some ideas try one of these Poem Prompts. And here are great “doing words” you might want to use in your poem.
We just finished a poetry workshop with Charlottesville Parks and Recreation’s Adaptive Rec Day Camp. The workshop was so much fun I thought I’d share our activities here.
Our workshops always starts with a pop song, chosen by participants in current and past workshops. We look at devices lyricists use to make their writing powerful. Then we read a poem that uses similar techniques. Finally, participants write poems of their own.
The different options provided with these activities are intended to make them accessible to children and youth of all ages, all interests, and all abilities. Materials are included to assist writers with developmental differences.
For the first two posts, I will share activities based on “Firework”, by Kate Perry. Next, I will share activities based on a song our Adaptive Rec campers chose.
Kate Perry often uses near (or slantrhyme) instead of full rhyme. The “in” in “wind” is repeated in “again.” The words almost rhyme, but they are not “full rhymes” because they don’t have the same final letter.
Listen to “Firework” by Kate Perry, reading the lyrics as you go.
Notice how she repeats the short “i” as in wind and the long “i” as in “light.” Listen for other repeated sounds, too, as well as repeated words and phrases. Repetition makes poetry and lyrics sound good.
Poets also use near rhyme. Read and listen to rhyme in “Snail” by Langston Hughes, What full and near rhymes pair with “go?”
“Firework” and “Snail” are both examples of a kind of writing called an “apostrophe,” or an address to someone or something. “Do you ever feel….?” Kate Perry asks someone. We aren’t sure who it is — maybe the listener. When Langston Hughes says “Dreaming you go…” we know from the title and first line that he’s talking to a snail.
Write a Poem to an Animal
Write a poem to an animal. Think about where it is (the snail is on a rose) and what it does (the snail crawls along the rose, drinking dew). Here’s a “Talking to an Animal Think Sheet” if you’d like some help getting ideas for your poem.
Now the fun part. These “Poem Prompts” are options for you to use as you turn your ideas into poetry. The first is a very open-ended prompt. The next two provide more structure. For this poem, we ask you to focus on near rhyme and other forms of repeated sounds.
We’ve provided a Word Bank, in case you need it. The words are color-coded by sounds, so if you pick words that are the same color, you will have repeated sounds in your poem. If writing things by hand is a challenge, these words can be printed onto standard mailing labels, such as Avery 8160, so you can peel them off and paste them down to write your poem.
There are also numerous website to help you find rhymes and near rhyme. Rhymedesk is a family friendly website. Rhymezone is an uncensored website, but it offers options for poets looking only for near rhyme. You can find more options by entering “rhyming dictionary” in your search engine.
A Note to Helpers
Some poets may need support writing their poems, but of course we all want to allow the poets to express themselves. Our Notes to Helpers offer suggestions for providing support only to the extent it is needed.
As we continue to enjoy National Poetry Month, let’s look at out how poets and lyricists express the feeling of being uplifted.
Happy. “If you feel like a room without a roof.” Wow! What a powerful way to describe happiness. Listen to the lyrics of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and you can’t feel anything but joy. That’s the power of writing.
“Hope is the Thing With Feathers.” Spoken.ASL With Captions. Emily Dickinson uses the same theme of being lifted up in her famous poem about hope. How do you feel when you know something wonderful is just about to happen? Like something is about to soar inside you?
Try one of these opening phrases and write your own song or poem: “Joy is_____”, “Sadness is _____”, “Anger is _____”, “Love is _____,” “Excitement is _______,” “Relief is ______.”
If you would like to further explore this pairing of “Happy” and “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers,” download our lesson plans. These plans included adaptable materials for writers in need of frameworks and visual aides.
Jump for Joy: Here are a couple of videos to inspire you.
Okay, did they inspire you? Or more like intimidate you? Here are two videos to help you get those jump rope moves down.