Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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Back from break, it’s Writers’ Week in Antioch

As students came back from spring break at Antioch High School in Chicago’s far-northern suburbs, people who write for a living brought their stories and experiences to the school for the annual celebration of Writers’ Week. A series of articles in Sequoit Media, the student newspaper at the school, has details.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott in downtown Montgomery, Ala., where the Civil Rights Movement began.
(Jacqueline Nix / iStock

Among the performers, actors, critics, and writers who will visit the school are Sequoit alumnus Wojtek Krupka, a guitarist with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and English lit from Indiana University, Bloomington, and poet, songwriter, author, workshop facilitator, and educator Regie Gibson, who has lectured and performed in seven countries and worked with Kurt Vonnegut, the Monks of the Drepong Gamong Monastery, and Mos Def.

As today is Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday, we note the common but erroneous description of her as a poet laureate of the US and thought Writers’ Week at Antioch would give us a good opportunity to describe a few real types of poetry:

  1. Limerick. A humorous poem with five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables, have the same rhythm, and rhyme. The third and fourth lines have five to seven syllables, have the same rhythm, and rhyme with each other.
  2. Haiku. A Japanese verse in three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second seven, and the third five. Haiku is a mood poem and it doesn’t use any metaphors or similes.
  3. Sonnets. Shakespeare’s are mostly written in a meter called iambic pentameter, in which each line has 10 syllables. A Shakespearean sonnet has the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, forming three quatrains and a closing couplet.
  4. Ghazal. An Arabic form of poetry about loss and romantic love. The poem is made up of couplets that each end on the same word or phrase, preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word, which appears twice in the first couplet. The last couplet often includes a proper name.
  5. Acrostic poems use the first, last, or other letters in a line to spell out a particular word or phrase.

Ms Angelou’s son Guy writes on this occasion:

My mother’s principal message was one of inclusiveness; that despite our ethnic, religious and cultural differences, we are more alike than unalike. She saw all our differences in language, orientation and perspective as an indication of the richness of our imagination and creativity, and as elements of our nature that we should celebrate. She believed that we are all images of God, no matter how we look or what name we use to call upon the Divine and Sacred Being. …

She used to ask me, “Can you imagine what the world would be like if all children on earth had access to a good education and were allowed to let their inner lights glow? Oh, we would have the cure to cancer and remedies to most of the major problems that confront us. The knowledge that would be generated by that level of brain power would give us access to the stars, to the universe as well as to our dreams.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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