I started writing poetry back in 1978, and I spent a  LOT of time studying it and writing it back in college. I could write an awful lot write now about "how to write poetry", but I'm going to stick to helping you write your research poem.

There are probably three types of students out there: some who already write and want to do their own thing; those who are gifted and really want to put together a great poem for the assignment; and those who are asking, "What poem?"

I don't want to ramble, so let's get to it.

First, your poem must contain at least ten facts from your research:

  • There are twelve types of dragon.

  • The Sumptuary laws of the middle ages forbade peasants from wearing nice clothes.

  • There are only a dozen Vaquita porpoises left in the world.

  • The Baskin-Robbins slogan of "31 flavors" was based on the idea that a customer could have a different flavor every day of the month.

So first, jot down 10 - 20 facts that you could include in your poem.

Second, you need to use at least five literary devices. And it's very important that you use five different devices. not just one five times. These six are probably the easiest to use:

  1. rhythm

  2. rhyme

  3. metaphor

  4. simile

  5. hyperbole

  6. alliteration

Third, you need to have at least 28 lines in your poem.

Those are the concrete expectations. They are objective - I can count the facts, the literary devices, the lines - but there are other things to a poem that can't be measured. 

Consider these:

The white rhinoceros is the largest species of rhinoceros and the world’s largest land mammal after the elephant. They have a massive body and large head, short neck and broad chest. Rhinoceros weight typically ranges from 3,000-8,000 lb. On its snout it has two horn-like growths, one behind the other, which are made of solid keratin called agglutinated hair. The front horn is larger and averages 35 inches in length.

The white rhinoceros is the largest species of rhinoceros and the world’s largest land mammal after the elephant. They have a massive body and large head, short neck and broad chest. Rhinoceros weight typically ranges from 3,000-8,000 lb. On its snout it has two horn-like growths, one behind the other, which are made of solid keratin called agglutinated hair. The front horn is larger and averages 35 inches in length.

The white

rhinoceros

is the largest species of

rhinoceros

and the world’s largest

land mammal

after the elephant.

They have a massive body

and large head,

short neck and

broad chest.

Rhinoceros

weight

typically ranges

from 3,000-8,000 lb.

On its snout

it has

two

horn-like growths,

one behind the other,

which are made of

solid

keratin

called agglutinated hair.

The front horn

is larger

and averages

35 inches in length.

Would you consider either of these to be a poem?

No. A paragraph isn't a poem, and a skinny paragraph isn't a poem, and even if you put in a bunch of line breaks so it looks like a poem, you still don't have a poem.*

*We could have a long wonderful chat about what makes a poem a poem, and then I could show you plenty of examples of pieces that if you or I wrote them, no one would call them poems. But because a poet wrote them, they're poetry.

 

 

So what do you do?

My advice is that if you're really struggling, write a poem "in the style of..."

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

 

My little horse must think it queer   

To stop without a farmhouse near   

Between the woods and frozen lake   

The darkest evening of the year.   

 

He gives his harness bells a shake   

To ask if there is some mistake.   

The only other sound’s the sweep   

Of easy wind and downy flake.   

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.

Here's another option. An acrostic:

Taken for their horns,

Horns made of keratin.

Extinction is in their future.

Why do people not care?

Haven't we lost enough?

Is there no end

To man's selfishness?

Extinction is in their future.

Realize these 8,000 pd beasts

Have done nothing to deserve such fate.

Imagine believing horn dust,

Not medicine

Or doctors, can cure your disease.

So like a linebacker

Are these awesome beasts.

Very thick necks and heads.

Even JJ Watt is no match.

The horn of keratin

Has a point like a spear.

Elephants are the only mammal bigger.

Remember the Dodo?

How it went extinct?

Is that what you want?

N

O

poetic devices

acrostic poem

stanzas

two similes

This one is four lines short, doesn't have five poetic devices, and only has seven facts, but I'd still give it an A for effort.

The White Rhino Who Is Endangered

in the style of 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose horn is this? I think I know.   

Up to 35 inches, it just might grow.   

It's made of something called keratin   

It is the horn of the white rhino.   

 

You might say they're very heavy.   

At 8,000 pounds, I would agree.   

Like a linebacker on the Houston Texans,   

A bigger head, neck, and chest you'll never see.   

 

The poachers kill them without thought.   

For Chinese medicine, their horns are bought.   

The largest mammal (after the elephant)   

Yet still brought down with a single shot.   

Li Shih-chen wrote in '57

that the rhino horn was a gift from heaven

curing fever, rheumatism, snakebite, and gout.

In his text Pen Ts’ ao Kang Mu is where this is written.

Social status, that's the new draw.

Killing for "status" that's the last straw.

It's illegal to sell a rhino horn,

But South Africa is working to change that law.

Of the five species of Rhino, four are in danger.

The thought of that should fill you with anger.

How many animals must be extinct?

Will the rhino one day be just a stranger?

They grind the horns into dust.

This just fills me with disgust.

Save the rhino, I say we must.   

Save the rhino, I say we must.

poetic devices

rhyme 

rhythm

simile (like a linebacker)

metaphor (gift from heaven)

stanzas

repetition (last two lines)

personification? (The rhino's a stranger?)

You could change the lyrics to a famous poem or song, you could try an acrostic....

but the most important thing is that I be able to see that you really, really tried. 

© 1996-2020 by Mr. Skipper dot Com.

Take Five - Dave Brubeck
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