If your school is like mine, then your primary focus right now is one of two things, either SPRING BREAK or SBA testing. You may not be spending much time talking about stories or poems at the moment, unless it's to explore the types of literary devices that might be found in the SBA, or to practice skills (like skimming and scanning) that are related to the SBA, or to learn how to become a whiz at answering multiple choice questions of the sort that might be found on the SBA.
But don't despair. Something exciting awaits you at the end of SBA.
April is poetry month.
You might not think you have time to explore poetry, and yet poetry offers more literary bang for your buck than just about any other form. Consider the story poems that not only offer a complete plot in one to two pages, but also explore literary devices like metaphor, simile, and personification.
Consider some of these great story poems:
"The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes
"Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer
"The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe
While writing my upcoming verse novel, Forget Me Not (Simon Pulse, October 2012), I took the poetic structure of "The Raven" and wrote a story poem about the rapper, 2Pac, showing up in a class as the substitute teacher. The poem is found below at the end of this post.
If you live in the Albuquerque Metro Area, you may interested to know that I will be at Alamosa Books with Caroline Starr Rose, to bring a free workshop to students, teachers, and writers on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 2pm. Winners of a special poetry contest will be announced at that time. Poems may be submitted to Alamosa until April 10th at 8p.m. The elementary school in the Albuquerque area with the most submissions will win a free author visit by Caroline, and the secondary school with the most submissions will when a free author visit by me.
If you are not in the Albuquerque area, they may still enter to win a cool poster containing the poem by finding at least four of the eight 2Pac song titles hidden in the poem below. If you email a list of the titles to Alamosa, you will automatically be enterred in a drawing. For more information visit Alamosa Books.
Here is the poem:
DEAD RAPPER RAP by Carolee Dean (from the Paranormal Verse Novel, Forget Me Not- coming October 2012 from Simon Pulse)
Once upon a Friday morning, almost all the class was snoring.
Our teacher left a vocab worksheet for a sub who was a bore.
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
followed by a man's voice rapping, rapping lines I'd heard before.
"I'm Skandalouz," the voice he muttered, rapping at the classroom door.
"Open up, or I'll kick in this door."
Ah, distinctly, I remember, it was a bleak day in September.
Dude told the sub he came to send her to a class on the second floor.
She grabbed her books and packed her bag, running past the man in black.
And then I saw it was 2Pac, standing at the classroom door.
"All eyez on me," yelled the man, standing on the cold tile floor.
"I'm your new sub, Mr. Shakur.
"I'm here to wake you from your dreaming, give your simple lives some meaning."
He smiled at us, his white teeth gleaming, then he pointed at the door.
"If you're thinking about jetting, don't want to get caught here abetting
someone who'll have you forgetting what the h--- this class is for.
If you get out now, I won't detain you, block you, trap you, or restrain your
exit." No one touched the door.
"Ah, I see you've all decided to listen to your uninvited
guest get down. I must confide that I've got a special treat in store.
Forgive me if my words are cryptic. Guess I'm just 2Pacalyptic.
Get off your butts, we're gonna kick it, like you've never kicked before."
And soon he had the whole class rapping and break-dancing on the floor.
Dancing on the classroom floor.
He rolled his sleeves and there I saw it, a tattoo of a black bird on his
arm, and then I heard the haunted whisper of the raven's words:
"Keep ya heads up, no regrets, don't know if heaven's got a ghetto,
but only God can judge what debt you'll have to pay forevermore.
He don't care if you scream and shout, 'cause big G knows there's no way out.
Once you've crossed the line-you're down, and you won't be getting up no more.
Hope you' re open to suggestion, 'cause there only is one question
left. I'm pretty sure you've guessed it. Heard it many times before."
Ah, distinctly, I remember, it was a bleak day in September,
when I heard the raven whisper
"What are you willing 2 die 4?"