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TXTS 4 Teachers

Learning Menu: Literature, There's a Poet in Us All

Marlys WeaverStoesz

“Joyful Writing.” Hmmm.  Seems like a contradiction in terms for most students. What if you could offer sweet writing experiences that will leave students motivated to finish their appetizers and entrées in order to get their dessert?

Our strategy today comes from Poetry Patterns:  The how-to-write-a-poem program by Jesse Hise (1982, 1995).  Although the patterns are designed to encourage poetry writing, they can be easily adapted to align to literature or informational text topics, therefore, making them ideal “dessert” menu items.

“Anyone Can Write a Poem” Poem

This is a nonsense poem that follows a simple formula:  C + C + WD + E =P

Translated:  comparison plus comparison plus wild dream plus emotion equals poetry.

Students brainstorm using the above formula.  Encourage them to allow their imagination free reign.

Instruct students to rearrange their brainstormed phrases to create a nonsense poem.

Provide an example for students follow; stress that their poem does not need to make sense and should not rhyme.

An example from Jesse Hise:

The Grand Canyon cut in the freeway

While the king’s blueberries

Became a garbage pit of fireworks

Marshmallow lions sank

In the moonlight

While I raged at the mirrors

In the sunset

“Person” Poem

This time, write the name of a person at the top (a good friend, a family member, a famous person).

Use the same formula: C+C+WD+E=P, but this time applied to the person selected.

Brainstorm comparisons, a wild dream, and emotion first.

Rearrange brainstormed phrases into any form to make a poem, but again, don’t worry about rhyming.

Jesse Hise’s book is chock full of poetry patterns that have been used by teachers for over 30 years as they are simple to use, are easily adaptable to all grade levels, and are a risk-free method for encouraging literacy.  You can find a sample of his book at

Hise, J. (1982, 1995). Poetry patterns: the how-to-write-a-poem program. Culver City, CA: Interact.