Wallow in Wonder Poem 12: #1666: "Why are There Seven Days in a Week?"

Apr 12, 2016

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Paul W. Hankins

I'm going to cheat a little today. Only because our students in Room 407 are working with Pantoum form today and tomorrow.

And. . .Pantoum has seven letters. So the connection is really here except I am not sharing poems about the days of the week.

A quick review of pantoums. These are poems that operate on the quatrain stanza (four lines) with an abab rhyme scheme. There are repeating lines (like in a villanelle). The pantoum form makes no rule for meter or the length of a line, so you can invite students to let the music of the lines as they arrive dictate how long they must be. The repetition of lines look like this (I am offering two explanations and you can choose the one that makes better sense to you.

1-2-3-4

2-5-4-6

5-7-6-8

7-9-8-10

9-3-10-1

Now. . .before you draft a single line. . .do you note something about that first line? Wowza. There is lot of weight attached to a line that begins and ends a poem. And, it seems like lines two and four come back quickly so we should have something solid in the first stanza for which to riff off of for the rest of the piece.

Here is what the pantoum poem would look like in stanza form.

1 (a)

2 (b)

3 (a)

4 (b)


Line 2 Repeat (a)

5 (b)

Line 4 Repeat (a)

6 (b)


Line 5 Repeat (a)

7 (b)

Line 6 Repeat (a)

8 (b)


Line 7 Repeat (a)

9 (b)

Line 8 Repeat (a)

10 (b)


Line 9 Repeat (a)

Line 3 Repeat (b)

Line 10 Repeat (a)

Line 1 Repeat (b)


Now, the students might be surprised to find that the fifth stanza just falls into that abab rhyme scheme because you already set that scheme up as the poem progressed.

Here are two poems I wrote with students today in the room as we talked about pantoums. They are "down-drafts" and meant only to show you how a pantoum might look. They are not ready for the coffee shop just yet, but we have something down on the page.


"Words on the Wing"

The invisible thoughts we cannot see,

the ones for which there seem no words,

is the clarity brought forth by poetry:

a gift of feathers for the world's birds,


the ones for which there are no words,

fluttering about winging journals and pens:

a gift of feathers for the world's birds,

the plume of wonder: the how-what-whens.


Fluttering about winging journals and pens,

seeking enough for which to build a nest.

The plume of wonder: the how-what-whens,

ever-winging upward never stopping to rest.


Seeking enough for which to build a nest:

a twig, a wrapper, a piece of string. . .a line.

Ever-winging upward, every down-draft a test

realizing all of the air--wind, rain, snow, light are "mine."


A twig, a wrapper, a piece of string. . .a line

is the clarity brought forth by poetry.

Realizing all of the air--wind, rain, snow, light are "mine,"

the invisibile thoughts we cannot see.


Now. . .again. . .as with other forms, I get the words and ideas down first and then I go back to look at punctuation of the lines. This is something to play with while in the room with young writers. The pantoum surprises us as our heart, mind, and words work together to reveal something in rhyme that which we might not have known we were even thinking.

The second pantoum comes of giving a quiz today in the room over the reading we were doing. As the students were completing the quiz, I drafted a second pantoum for an example piece.

Notice here that I decided to make the title of the poem my first line. Poets can do this.


"Is there anything better than a quiz?"

a chance, after learning, for students to show

what they "got" or that "it is what it is,"

or the chance to employ the power of "I don't know?"


A chance, after learning, for students to show

some new knowledge they'll take away

or a chance to employ the "I don't know":

something they'll save for another day..


Some new knowledge they'll take away,

a piece of wonderment not known before.

Something they'll save for another day

when invited again to seek and to explore.


A piece of wonderment not known before,

now theirs to claim for their very own.

When invited again to seek and to explore

they'll remember when their learning had flown.


Now theirs to claim for their very own,

what they "got" or that "it is what it is."

When invited again to seek and to explore

is there anything better than a quiz


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