Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poem #25--A One-Word Poem

Dedicated to Franki
(and with apologies to David R. Slavitt)
by Mary Lee Hahn, copyright 2010


Discussion Questions:
1. What is this poem about?
2. Do I need to read it again?
3. Who is speaking? What is the evidence in the poem for your answer?
4. What is being compared or described? Explain.
5. To what senses does the poem appeal? Elaborate.
6. Does this poem make you laugh, or does it make you cry?
7. What does this poem remind you of?
8. What characteristic of the genre of poetry alerts you as a reader that this is a poem?
9. If you were to put this poem to music, what would it sound like? If you were to illustrate it, what colors would you use?
10.What questions do you have for the author?

* * * * * * *

The back story: Franki and I were discussing what we had ready for the blog this week. I confessed to have hit a wall with the poem-a-day challenge. She suggested I write a one-word poem. We Googled it. We found Slavitt's poem. There is such a thing. (Who knew?) I was amused and inspired.

The discussion questions are the ones I use with my fourth graders as they get ready to answer questions on the state tests about poetry. I thought they worked quite well with this poem.


  1. Charles Ghigna has a one word poem that landed him in the Guinness Book for shortest poem, I believe.

    And you've only got five days left. You can do it! Fib, haiku, tetractys, tanka, couplet... all short. And when in doubt, I simply write about food :-)

    Goooooooooo, Mary Lee!

    (or heck... use my word verification prompt on your page and write from there: ingumpa!)

  2. I am going to read this poem every single day and ponder your questions:-)

  3. Off-balance

    (a poetic response)


  4. I like Gregory K.'s advice. When in doubt write about food! I love the one word poem-- And what a well-chosen word!

  5. Thanks for the cheers, Greg! And yes, hooray for the short forms! I'm thinking that in your honor I'll do a fib about food and I'll use the word (verification "word," that is) ingumpa in the fourth line!

    Kevin, a poetic response in response to your response:


  6. Anonymous7:31 PM


    Just finished a week's break from school. I'm liking "Serenity" for my mantra as I return to school this week. Maddy

  7. I like those questions, and I'm thinking you'd like the ones in POEMS PLEASE by David Booth and Bill Moore too(you probably already have this book!) It'd be neat to hear what your students said in response.

    We're in this NaPoWriMo together, new friend - it's the home stretch! Today I wrote about something I noticed between strangers...


  8. The Hangman's Lament



    Life in the Nursing Home


  9. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Love this. I know that wall! Five days! Try a fibonacci or a found poem. Have your written about teaching math?

    My response to your one word: summer

    Hang in there.

  10. I love that!

    You've done so well all month. I'm with Greg: Five days left. You're rockin' it!

  11. I thought you were being funny, with all those teacher questions to a one word poem. Since it's finals week for me I have essay question fatigue. But then I realized those were real questions...

    My one word poem:


    my word verification: essivi
    definition: (n) the malaise that hits when a poet is faced with essay questions demanding a linguistic response to an ephemeral experience of fleeting, gasping beauty. essivious (adj) essivily (adv) essi (v)


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