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The following group poetry game is adapted from RoseMary Honnold’s forthcoming book, Serving Today’s Seniors: A How-to-Do-It-Manual for Librarians.

Compose a five-line poem called a cinquain. Use two flip charts or dry-erase boards. The first one is for the lists of words the audience generates, and the second is for the poem. Choose a main subject for the poem, such as “spring.” Five elements of the poem are presented to the audience, one at a time. Ask them to:

  1. Suggest nouns relating to spring. Write them on the first chart. Choose the best one to be the first line of the poem on the second chart.
  2. Suggest words to describe the first line ending in -y or -ly and write them on the first chart. Choose two of the words to be the second line of the poem. Write them below the first line on the second chart.
  3. Suggest words to describe the first line ending in -ing and write them on the first chart. Choose three of the words and write them as the third line of the poem on the second chart.
  4. Complete the phrase, “as ______ as _______” to describe the first line for the fourth line. Choose the best one from the group’s suggestions.
  5. For the final line, suggest words that are synonyms of the first line. Choose one and write it as the final line of the poem on the second chart.

“Daffodils” is an example of a poem written this way. A fun idea would be to create bookmarks with the new poem on them to pass out at the main desk for Teen Read Week.

Cheerily, brightly
Nodding, waving, welcoming
As breezy as spring
Yellow sunshine.

Emotion Poem

Teens can create a poem based on an emotion and their five senses!

Have a list of different emotions available to give teens ideas. Overjoyed, disgusted, hatred, love, pity, sorrow, confusion, jubilant, uncertainty, daring, bold, confident, etc�

After teens have decided on an emotion, have them describe what that emotion would look like, feel like, taste like, smell like, and sound like.

For example:


Jubilant looks like the girl in gym class, who never gets picked, when she wins the race.

It feels like the butterflies in your stomach when you are on a roller coaster.

Jubilant tastes like homemade ice cream on my grandmother’s hot homemade apple pie.

Jubilant smells like the morning after a long summer rain.

Jubilant sounds like a bunch of small children laughing in a movie theater.

Found Poetry

Sometimes words are hard to think of, so why not “find” them! Have on hand a variety of magazines. Have each teen pick an article out of the magazine and start picking out words � circling one or two words in each line or every other line. Then, put the words together to make a poem! (For an extra challenge, tell students that they can’t pick up their pen when circling the words, so words must all be close together.)

Here is an example. The following is an excerpt from a press release announcing this year’s Best Books for Young Adults. The words bolded are used to make the poem below.

From a conference room in Philadelphia, just blocks from the Liberty Bell, seventy-two books that honor the past, celebrate our freedom, and look to the future have been selected by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA) for the 2003 Best Books for Young Adults list.

Liberty Bell
Honor, freedom, future
Selected division

Each article can make a unique poem! Have teens guess what the original article was about after hearing the poem.

Song Lyrics As Poetry

Many teens do not realize that the music they listen to is often poetry. Have teens find the lyrics to one of their favorite songs. (You may need to remind them about appropriate lyrics. Usually if they play it on the radio, it is okay to read. Most songs have a radio-edited version.) Then, have teens read the song. They may need some examples so they don’t “sing” their poem when they read. After they have read it, have them play a small excerpt. Many times teens don’t “hear” the words until they are read to them.

Name That Poet

from Joanne Head of Western Counties Regional Library

Make posters with pictures of ten famous poets. Invite teens to come to the library to see the poster, grab a “hint sheet” and an answer sheet. A teen with the most correct answers will win a prize (like a local pizza gift certificate). This is a good opportunity to contact the head of the English department. in each local high school and issue the challenge. It is a good way to introduce poetry to teens, and it might be a good way to test the waters and find potential participants for a poetry slam.