Technically, It's Not My Fault By John Grandits
Grades 4 and up
These poems are all Robert's thought about the world around him. He is kooky and funny and definitely creative. I love the poem about how every time he tries to skateboard he gets yelled out and told to leave and then when he gives up and goes home his mom yells at him for sitting inside and tells him to go outside with his skateboard. The poems just ring true from a pre-teen perspective. The ways Grandits plays with art, shapes, fonts and words is amazing.
Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine
Grades 3 and up
These false apology poems teach kids that poetry can be dry, sarcastic, funny and have such truth in them all at the same time. Some of the poems are written from the point of view of a nursery rhyme or fairy tale characters, making them perfect for a library unit of study. The more familiar your students are with these stories the more meaningful the poems will be. Asking my classes to write their own false apology poems from the perspective of a book character would be a good jumping off point for this style.
Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word By Bob Raczka
Grades 3 and up
Of these three poetry books I feel like this would be the one that's hardest to emulate. To take a word such as spaghetti and then using only the letters in that word make a whole poem is so difficult! But I sure do love what Rasczka did with it:
The man is a genius. The poems are beautiful in their simplicity.
Lesson Seeds: I would ask my students to try to create poems following the same styles in each of these books. This is not easy to do and while students might enjoy these poems in younger grades, to create this kind of poetry would be more successful with students in grades 5 and up. In Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine there is a two-page layout that gives some simple directions to create your own false apology poems inspired by William Carlow Williams' poem "This is just to say". She explains the repeating line of forgive me, how many stanzas and how many lines in each stanza. She also encourages the writer to read the poems aloud to make sure it has the proper rhythm. Concrete poems written in certain shapes are fun to do on the computer by using different fonts.