Monday, April 2, 2012

Where I portray a sonneteer...

     After some research in multiple forms, I decided to attempt a sonnet today.  I learned that a person who writes sonnets is sometimes called a sonneteer.  It seems that sometimes calling one a sonneteer can be a bit of an insult; I am ignoring that fact today as I claim to be a one!  There are three types of sonnets...Italian/Petrachan, Spensarian and English.  The English sonnet is the simplest so I will be writing that one!  In the English sonnet, there are 3 quatrains followed by a couplet.  (More research to follow on the specifics of each of THOSE forms!)
     I read somewhere that sonnets are often written to illustrate two related but differing topics.  In my fourth grade classroom, we have been learning about comparing and contrasting.  Although admittedly I am not as well-read in sonnets as I should be, the definition lends itself to compare and contrast, don't you think?  Well, we have been comparing and contrasting some very..."sensitive" inventions lately.  I pondered using these as a topic for today's poem, but it might make my students and my new audience squirm.  (Dying to know the topic?  Check out the February/March edition of Storyworks magazine from Scholastic).  We have also been working on measurement.  It is a challenge for some to separate the customary units of measurement from the metric system.  Perhaps my sonnet will help...

Sonnet I
Meter or Yard?
By Melinda Harvey

When measuring the volume, be careful what you choose.
It matters scientifically, what system that you use.
In the metric family, there's the liter and milliliter
In the customary*, gallons, quarts and cups make things sweeter.

When determining the length, you have a couple choices.
Once again you have the metric and standard voices.
Metric options: the meter plus kilo, centi, milli
Standard* form: mile, yard, foot, inch- mixing these is silly.

Finding the mass means figuring out how much something weighs.
You use a balance scale, some have baskets and some have trays.
If you're feeling metric, use tonne,  kilogram or the gram.
But if you're feeling English*: ton, pound, ounce will help you ma'am!

Now you can see that measuring can be less hectic
When you keep the customary from the metric!

*To make matters worse, these are the interchangeable names for the customary units of measurement.

     I am sure that I broke many sonnet laws, but hopefully you get the idea.  Maybe you learned something about measurement too.  If you're still confused, take a look at this blog for a chance to print this poster:

It might help you sort out the two systems.  My favorite teachers, Tim and Moby also do a great job of explaining measurement at  
     Are you ready to try a sonnet?  If you don't want to commit to writing a 14 line poem right away, just start by brainstorming possible topics. What are two related topics that have differences?  Make a list in your writer's notebook, then when the spirit moves you, you can be a sonneteer too!


  1. Love it , can't wait to share it with my class.

  2. When are you finding the time in a busy teachers day to write all these new forms??? Bravo to you, Melinda.
    Isn't March Madness addicting? I am even getting disappointed when my "team" does not win!!! I have some new favorites and can't wait to share them with kids. Keep poeting! Janet

  3. Oops, that's teacher's day!!!

  4. Thank you for stopping by, Melissa and Janet! My routine is to get up early every morning to crank out a poem before I go to the gym. I hope to get some research done ahead of time though so I can keep up! Who really needs sleep anyway!?

    1. I am even MORE impressed. An earlybird poet, to boot. But isn't this great fun!!! I am loving looking for your next post, kind of like Christmas anticipation-time!! I am forcing myself to be more attuned to this whole social media world and really enjoying it.