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I've been writing poetry since I was a baffled teen, about forty years. I have published four books of poetry and have just completed my fifth collection, "The Invisible Library". I am also a culture worker, editor, and publisher (Hagios Press).

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Poetry Game

Culture Days 2011 is on its way, celebrating arts and culture from coast to coast to coast in Canada. This is a game for anyone who reads or writes poetry and knows what they like. This game was passed on to me by Barry Dempster at Sage Hill Writing Experience and is perhaps the most fun you can have reading and talking about poetry. There are no winners or losers in this game, in the end poetry wins and everyone involved increases their knowledge or what makes a good poem, good! Of course I recommend choosing poems by Canadian poets for the game, before or during Culture Days.
Here are the rules of the Poetry Game:

1. The Poem Master, picks four different poems (from four different authors)

2. He gathers a group of six to ten “Listeners” who are readers of poetry, (with eight to ten Listeners form teams of two or four people per team)

3. The Poem Master reads the first poem without revealing the authors name, and each Listener writes notes and impressions on the poem while it is being read.

4. After the reading the poem, the Poet Master gives the Listeners three minutes to write notes on the poem they have just heard..

5. The Poem Master repeats steps three and four with each of the remaining three poems.

6. When the poems have been read and notes taken the Poem Master asks the Listeners to rate each poem from 1 as the poem they like most to 4 as the poem they like the least based on poetic craft and the impact of the poem on the Listener. (Time will have to be given for discussion if team play is employed).

7. The Poet Master asks for scores on poem one and welcomes discussion between Listeners who have divergent views on the same poem. This isn't in order to change someone's scoring of a poem but merely to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the poem.

8. Repeat step seven for each of the four poems. The Poem Master facilitates discussions, trying to draw all of the listeners into the discussion. The Poem Master also tabulates the scores for each poem with poems earning four points for first choices, three points for second choices, two points for third choices and one point for forth choices.

9. When discussion winds up on the forth poem the Poem Master reveals the placing of the poems based on the scores of the Listeners. The Poem Master may also ask if anyone wants to guess the names of the poets who wrote the poems. He entertains these and finally reveals the names of the poets. The game is complete.

This game is a lot of fun and it’s an easy way to learn more about poetry craft and the kind of poetry that has an impact on you. If you don’t own many poetry books look for anthologies or Canadian poetry for many wonderful poems to choose for the game.


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