Friday, May 4, 2007

Poetry Friday: Clerihews

I love poetic forms. I especially like to teach that ones that most teachers don’t teach—like clerihews. Clerihews are a form of poetry named after their inventor, Edmund Clerihew Bentley. Bentley was a British writer who wrote these clerihews during World War II about historical and literary figures.

So, what’s a clerihew anyway?
* It’s about a celebrity of someone famous.
* It pokes gentle fun at the person the poem is about.
* It’s funny.
* It’s a four line poem made up of two couplets (AABB)
* The lines are short and the first line ends with the person’s name.

I just got back from University of Virginia on a field trip. We saw the Poe room where Edgar Allen Poe stayed for a few months during his brief time at UVA. Here is a clerihew about him that I wrote:

Edgar Allan Poe
Wrote about ravens, we know
Mysterious and creepy
He kept readers from being sleepy

For more information about how to write clerihews, check out these kids’ books:
How to Write Poetry by Paul Janeczko
Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers by Paul Janeczko
How to Write Haiku and Other Short Poems by Paul Janeczko

Here’s one by Paul Janeczko:

Harry Potter
Was a magical plotter
At Hogwarts he became a master
After many a goof and disaster.

For poems from the original clerihew master:

The Complete Clerihews of E. Clerihew Bentley by E.C. Bentley
The First Clerihews by E. Clerihew Bentley

* Both of these books are really hard to find. You will have to go to a out of print book source.

Here is an original clerihew by Bentley:

Lewis Carroll
Bought sumptuous apparel
And built an enormous palace
Out of the profits of Alice

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