Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tabloid Headline Poetry

One of the most common complaints that I get from students is that writing is boring. They never have any fun. And my exhortations that what they write can be fun, and if they share that with others they share the fun, often fall on deaf ears. So today I did a "fun" lesson. It comes from "Tabloid Tone Exercise" by Lee Upton, found in The Practice of Poetry edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. It was adapted by my friend and colleague John Pennisi, one of the co-director's of the Sun Belt Writing Project.

The idea as we use it is to take a headline from a tabloid (take your pick from any of the weirder ones), turn it into the title of a poem, and write a poem about it. I ask to treat it seriously, but my own poems almost always tend to come out tongue-in-cheek. Here are the three I wrote today. I do not vouch for their quality, but it did get me writing in the classroom with my students. Always a worthy goal.

LOST DOGGY TRAVELS 1000 MILES TO COME HOME attack the owner who abandonded him!
Revenge of the Yappy Dog

"Taco killed him!" cried his wife
"That little chihuahua took Stan's life!
He told us that Taco had run away last week,
Now he's been killed by that little pipsqueak!"

Who knew that Taco, weighing only four pounds,
Could find his way home and bring his owner down?
The guy tried to ditch him in another state,
Driven crazy by the yap, yap, yapping, early and late.

Taco came home and snuck in through the back,
For once he was silent, waiting to attack.
As his owner passed by, in the middle of the night,
Taco took him down--and it served him right!

Leaving that little yappy dog allalone in the woods,
He should have known it would come to no good.
Now he is dead, hea has paid for his sin,
But Taco's escaped--and may strike again!

©2007-Art Belliveau


They always ask about the beard and the hair.
I don't know why they even care.
"Man, why's your hair in a ponytail?
Don't you know that style is stale?"

After 12 years of Catholic school,
Where short hair was always the rule,
I grew it long, so just back way off!
Least that's how I try to play it off.

But it's not the truth, at least not all,
So now I'll tell the whole truth to y'all.
It happened way back, 25 years ago,
Right before I decided to let it all grow.

I was at the barber's, waiting my turn,
When this one dude's new crew cut started to burn!
All of a sudden his went BOOM!!!
So took off running out of the room.

I'll take no chances, I decided then,
I'll just let it grow and avoid firemen
And the bomb squad--I know it is weird,
But that's why I've got this long hair and this beard.

©2007-Art Belliveau


There are some things, I just don't wanna know.
Some facts that I don't need to learn.
Some places that I just don't wanna go,
For fear that I'll never return.

I do not care how old I get.
Or how many gray hairs I may grow.
I never would try it, no, not on a bet,
I could never win enough dough.

Apparently, though, someone has tried it,
Though I could puke at just the mere thought.
And the change that occured, well, he couldn't hide it.
He left the stall and was caught.

Some things in life just aren't worth it.
Some things I'd rather not be told.
I wish that they never did unearth it,
But, though they did, I would rather grow old!

©2007-Art Belliveau

1 comment:

Sara Jane said...

Ha ha Ha Ha hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa
I love the Taco poem. I would have loved this exercise!