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Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Forgotten Syllable

It sure is good to get your students to hang around a word for a while, to lovingly and slowly sound out the syllables, to notice where the accents fall.  One student claimed that where she came from--Orange County, California--"different" was pronounced in three syllables. I told the class that I had an office mate from East Texas who pronounced the word "poetry" in two syllables.

I like teaching syllabic verse when we write our first pome (my preferred spelling) in creative writing. There's challenge there, but not too much to scare them away on a first assignment.  It gets them revising, looking through the Theasaurus for synonyms they don't often use that have more or fewer syllables, like "lovely" for "beautiful"--and it gets them playing around the the way sentences are put together, trying out some slighly uncommon sentence structures to give the poetry a touch of "strangeness."

Don't just write haiku. Have them write eight syllable lines, ten syllable lines, foruteeners maybe. Give 'em a workhout. 

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