Monday, January 9, 2012

Poetry by any other name

I have degrees in English and taught it for many years.   Bri had an assignment to do--she had to write a "Bio-Poem" to show that she recognized parts of speech.  I said, "huh?"   Never heard of a Bio-poem before.

Before she let me read the assignment, she just told me she had to write a poem (from where I come from in the Boston area, that's pronounced "poam").  Then she told me she didn't know how to write one---hmmm...teacher in me kicked in and I was telling her a step by step way to write one---then she hit me with the Bio-poem stuff.

Well, it turns out a Bio-Poem is an eleven line poem with a specific formula:

(First name)-

(Four adjectives that describe the person)

Son or Daughter of (your parents names)

Lover of (three different things that the person loves)
Who feels (three different feelings and when or where they are felt)
Who gives (three different things the person gives)
Who fears (three different fears the person has)
Who would like to see (three different things the person would like to see)
Who lives (a brief description of where the person lives)
-(last name) 

Who knew?  But the funny thing is that it wasn't that much different than what I was going to tell her to do, I just didn't know it had a name.   Here's my bio poem:

Short, grey-haired, smiling, and exciteable
Son of Americo and Eleanor
Lover of stars, muted colors, and friendly faces
Who feels weary right now, scatter-brained very often and optimistic about the future.
Who would like to see the ocean soon, the Greek Isles someday, and Peace, just peace.
Who lives on a ranch in Powell Butte, OR

Pretty elementary and simple to do.   I was going to have Bri build a poem based on just words but in a similar form:

two words
three words now
now write four words
back to three
then two

I often had freshmen students write a poem such as the above--here's an example.

Getting older
Still has horses
Looking forward to babies
coming in April.
They are

There was no specific formula for that obviously.  I had many excited kids AND adults, when I taught adult classes, who were able to produce a poem and it had visual appeal.  Try these with your kids or even your friends.  They might roll their eyes when you introduce it but that will change, I almost guarantee it. 


  1. Now this is just plain fun. Thanks for sharing.

  2. These are cool, Larry!

  3. Larry, I'm a lover of many English classes and I too, had never heard of a biopoem! Thanks! I copied your post and downloaded it. Gonna try it!

  4. These are great! As fifth grade teachers my parents had their kids do similar assignments and this takes me back to wandering around their classroom reading all the poems. Naturally, yours is much more eloquent. :)

  5. This is great, Larry. As a poetry lover and would-be writer, I love exercises in form like this. I'll try doing these myself! Good to hear about you, too.

  6. I use this form a bit and it's relative the etheree. It's fun to make the words pop out.


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