Writing Nonsense Poetry

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by catnfiddle, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2012

    My team is restructuring a lesson on "Jabberwocky". I opened my big mouth :woot: and offered to create an assignment where the students would write their own nonsense poem. Now I'm under a bir of a deadline. Has anyone on the forum attempted an assignment like this? Any pointers?
     
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  3. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Apr 19, 2012

    Interesting assignment. At first I thought "oh hey, that's fun and easy," but the more I think about it, it's pretty difficult.

    I think what makes Carroll's poem such a success is the word painting. Even though the words aren't real, they still paint a picture. You can sort of guess what Carroll was thinking when he crafted the word choice.

    Maybe try to have the students build a skeleton of the poem first, and then have them move in and start replacing actual words with the nonsense vocabulary they create.

    Make sure they know the background of nonsense verse: peculiar characters in humorous, fantastical adventures.

    But yeah, this is hard. It'll require a lot of imagination and cunning.
     
  4. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2012

    What an imaginative idea for an assignment!

    Here's my suggestion:

    Make sure to spend considerable time reading Jabberwocky aloud to the students. Maybe even have them close their eyes -- silly as that sounds -- and let the feeling of the poem wash over them. The goal is to get students to realize that the sounds the words make -- the literal music of the poem -- has an effect. Then have them write down how the poem made them feel and what they think it's about without even understanding it.

    Then find a really good foreign language poet (I'd stick with Spanish or French, depending on which you can read with some level of fluency) and read that poem aloud to the kids. Don't even tell them you're doing it, just watch and enjoy as they get confused. After you've read it aloud the first time, read it to them again, this time telling them to do the same thing they did with Jabberwocky: Write down what they think the poem's meaning is based on the sound of the words alone. Then you can read what the poem really means and see how close they come.

    Once you establish with the students that word sounds convey meaning, I think you'll have primed the pump for your nonsense poem assignment. The key is for them to understand that even though the words are nonsense, there is NOTHING nonsensical about the sounds the words make.

    Have them give you their nonsense poem along with a written reflection describing what the poem is accomplishing.

    Hope that helps!
     
  5. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2012

    Love this lesson idea - translating foreign language by imagination. A whole new way to look at metaphor!
    I have used jabberwocky as grammar exercise - have students tell what part of speech the nonsense words are and how they know. But that's not a poetry lesson -
    I'm completely stealing this translating idea. I LOVE it!
     
  6. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Apr 19, 2012

    Also, pay attention to the parts of speech--I do a little bit on deep grammar and use Jabberwocky, having students point out the verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.--we discuss how "the" is a noun indicator, which they know without realizing it, and that the helping verb "did" points to gyre and gymbal as verbs.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    May 9, 2012

    For those who followed this and might be interested in trying this kind of lesson, here was the assignment I finally created:

    You have learned how to put words together based on their roots and prefixes, and you have learned how to discover the meaning of words based on the context of the words around them. Let’s take the next step! You will have your choice of writing one of the following:

    A. A short poem (8 lines minimum) showing one or more elements of Romantic poetry.
    You make me a foolish benepath.
    You transamor all my reason.
    The wooshgasp of my loving heart
    Flutters like the birds of the season.
    - Benepath: One who feels good.
    - Transamors: Love above and beyond.
    - Wooshgasp: Rapid heartbeat.

    B. A short advertising pitch (5-7 sentences) based on your Creative Propaganda assignment.
    Be a Philovita and support the ASPCA’s efforts to end the mortisluc of dozens of fuzzypeds.
    - Philovita: Lover of life.
    - Mortisluc: Ending of the light, i.e. death.
    - Fuzzypeds: Fur-bearing animals.

    You should use at least five (5) nonsense words in the context of your writing and provide definitions of your words at the end of your writing. If you need inspiration for your nonsense words, check the Roots and Prefixes assignment and go from there. Have fun!​
     

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