Taking the ick out of Limerick

There once was a girl who loved rhyme.
An Irish holiday seemed perfectly prime
To swig a beer, then
Dance a jig with a pen
And prepare for National Poetry time.

With National Poetry Month around the corner, I’ve read several blogs recently regarding rhyme in picture books.  Editors hesitate when they see a rhyming manuscript.  To get published, you have to truly nail it.

It seems the reason for this hesitation is because they see so much of the same.  Plots contrived to fit rhyme schemes with off meter and obvious rhyming words.  Stories that are limited because they are jailed by rhyme.  If I had to sift through these all day, I’d probably hesitate too.

But poetry is not meant to limit.  Quite the opposite if you ask me (I know… you didn’t).  Poetry is an incredible variety of forms to play with and explore, and it should take your writing to places it never would have gone otherwise.  This means exploring different rhyme schemes and meter, like limericks and villanelles, and even non-rhyming forms like haiku or sestina.  It means trying out more difficult and unexpected rhyming words.

The reason editors hesitate when they see rhyming manuscripts IS NOT because kids don’t like poetry.  When I was a kid, I was fascinated by it.  I could not get enough Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein, and I loved the challenge of trying to come up with my own.  And, for whatever reason, limericks were my favorite.  When my Dad drove me to school in the mornings, he would come up with the first line of a limerick and I had to think of the next four. I never thought that was quite fair, but I became quite the third grade limericist.

Now it’s my turn to do the easy part.  Here are a few first lines if you’d like to try your hand at it.

-When a camel got into the bath…

-The garbage truck sped down the road…

-If I bought a piece of the moon…

Have fun!  I’d love to see what you come up with in the comments.



Filed under Thoughts and Insights, Writing Technique and Prompts

5 responses to “Taking the ick out of Limerick

  1. Laura, I have not written poetry — can edit it though. I did try four lines on the garbage truck, and found I had fun. But was busy yesterday, to do anything more with it. I reviewed a book today about an autistic girl who has written over 100 poems from age 7-13. Shared some of her work. I was amazed. And, I don’t even try.:)

  2. Patricia – I’m glad you had fun with it! I LOVED reading your review of I Am Here. “Bright Future” was absolutely beautiful. I might try to hunt that book down for myself.

  3. Axis

    -If I bought a piece of the moon…
    I would sit in a crater and swoon
    As with any swiss cheese
    I grow weak at the knees
    When I scoop up a piece with my spoon

  4. Yeah Axis!! That was awesome. And made me hungry for some cheese!

  5. Pingback: Mother-Loving Rhyme Time | Laura Boffa: Write of Way

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