Sometimes the point of a poem is just to have fun with words—that’s why they call it word-play! Among the kinds of poem defined in our Glossary of Poetic Forms is that most beloved of nonsense poems, the limerick. We have a self-illustrated selection of Edward Lear’s limericks and links to the best places to find more limericks around the Net—have fun!
Poems are coming to life in performance all over the US this National Poetry Month, and if you’re looking for the definitions of the New Performance Poetry, this is the place ask your Poetry Guide Bob Holman. See his manifesto “Open Mic: Definitions, Rules, Etiquette, Irony.” The poetry open mic is “a meta-metaphor for freedom, a place where your art can be presented to the public at large,” a place where “all humans are created equal—so long as you don’t go over the time limit!” Our archive of articles on poetry slam, spoken word, and the late 20th century performance poetry renaissance is a historical treasure trove.
Then if you want further definitions from the younger generation, Eman’s the one to ask: she was just 16 and already hosting two weekly open mics when we interviewed her in the millennium year, “HipHop, Performance Poetry, Spoken Word, Slam: Definitions from a Teenager.”
And then it will be time to get out there and join in the fun—an endeavor for which you might want to consult our performance poetry how-tos:
Sonnets come in many flavors—originating in medieval Italian, the sonnet has captured the imagination of poets all over the world, who have adapted the form to many different languages. The first sonnets were lyrics addressed to the poet’s beloved—like Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?” or later, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” But it turns out this 14-line structure can accommodate a great variety of poetic worlds, and if you read through the chronologically indexed poems in our collection of sonnets, you will see some of this amazing variation. In the collection is a sonnet addressing Death, John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud”... a sonnet describing a literary encounter with greatness, John Keats’ “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”... a sonnet addressing the American symbol of immigration, the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus”... a sonnet on a warrior’s death on foreign soil, Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”... Gerard Manley Hopkins’ inimitable sonnet containing “God’s Grandeur”... and Robert Frost’s odd sonnet of 20th century urban loneliness, “Acquainted with the Night”... what a magnificently flexible form of poem this is!
That briefest of poems, the haiku form migrated from Asia, took deep root in English, and now sprouts up all over the place. Here on the About.com network, there are collections of tree haiku, dinosaur haiku, cat haiku, Arizona haiku and Buddhist spring haiku. We’ve seen biker haiku (“baiku”) in The Boston Globe and curbside haiku on the streets of New York City.
For National Poetry Month 2013, New York Times senior software geek Jacob Harris unveiled Times Haiku, a compilation of haiku extracted from stories in The Times by a syllable-counting algorithm, which came up with found poems like these:
Slowly, he began
to believe those things that he
used to say in jest.
from “The Grouse in the Heart of Mumbai,” a letter from India by Manu Joseph, published November 21, 2012
The buzzing of a
thousand bees in the tiny
curled pearl of an ear.
from Life After Life, a novel by Kate Atkinson, quoted in the review published March 26, 2013
It’s hard to find your
bearings in the middle of
from “A Modest Proposal for More Back-Stabbing in Preschool” by Carina Chocano, published March 29, 2013
That algorithm is still busily counting syllables and constructing haiku at the Times
Web site, the editors of The Brooklyn Paper
were recently inspired to select Brooklyn-inspired haiku
from their own headlines, and NPR has a special series called Haiku in the News
in The Protojournalist
, “a news experiment... original reporting in a variety of storytelling forms.” Haiku are indeed everywhere!
More about haiku:
Haiku defined, in our Glossary of Poetic Forms
Haiku, Senryu, Tanka links