Friday, January 23, 2009

RIDDLE POEMS


Just a few years ago, I was a riddle poem virgin. I had heard of riddles. I wrote poems. But I had never heard of riddle poems. Now, thanks to my UCLA children's poetry teacher, Madeleine Comora, I LOVE RIDDLE POEMS.

I remember getting to class early. I had completed all of my homework that week except the riddle poem. For some reason I had a writer's block that was holding me back from poetically riddling. I had three little kids at the time and I was officially sleep-deprived. As I lay my head down on the blank, college-ruled paper my eyes fixed on something in the distance. I immediately jerked my head up, grabbed my pencil and the following spilled on to the page:

WHAT AM I?
I have two eyes
and one round nose
for putting plugs
to make things go.
Don't stick your finger in my eye
for if you do -zip zap- you fry.

© Jill Corcoran 2009

Since that first riddle poem I have found I have a knack for poetically riddling. I have written a number of collections ranging from Rollicking Rowdy Riddles to Halloween Riddles to Sports Riddles to School Riddles and more.

I have found that kids LOVE riddles. When I teach mask poems in the classroom, riddles are the perfect form of poetry for distracted students and reluctant readers. Reading my riddle poems to the class is a joy because every kid is vying for me to call on them so they can proudly shout the answer. When teaching riddle poems, follow my mask poem lesson but make sure to tell students to include concrete clues in their poems so readers can figure out the riddle. To me, a perfect riddle is challenging but solvable.

For fellow riddle poem lovers, be on the lookout for J. Patrick Lewis and Lynn Munsinger's SPOT THE PLOT! A RIDDLE BOOK OF BOOK RIDDLES, Chronicle Books, 2009.

Happy Riddling:)

14 comments:

  1. Jill, I LOVE Riddle poems! I write them, too. Love your example!

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  2. OK, Kelly. Try to stump me. Want to put one up and see if we can all get it? Otherwise I'll be looking to your blog in the coming weeks to read one or two of yours:)

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  3. Riddle me, riddle me, riddle me ree. Somehow, that's what popped into my head. I'll have to look up where it's from.

    And I'll confess: I've never tried a riddle poem. Must add to my poetry bucket list. :)

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  4. Is it an electrical outlet?

    Good poem. That was fun. Like Blaine the Mono, I need more.

    I think you should hold a contest, Jill. Whoever writes a stumper wins. You could offer to do the thing you did with your picture as a prize. I'd like a picture of my cat looking like that.

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  5. You got it Paul. The answer is an electric outlet. Did you ever notice the 'shocking' face on those babies?

    I'm so glad you want more! You sound like the kids in school; they always ask for more riddle poems when I want to move on to something else.

    A contest is a fun idea. Hmmmmm.

    BTW, the pic is easy. Find someone with a mac. Open their Photo Booth and click on Thermal. Then click the pic. Looking forward to seeing you thermal:)

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  6. Very nice! I'll play

    Warm and steamy things I hold
    Sip from me when it is cold
    I have but a single ear
    To pick me up with, not to hear

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  7. Love it, Nandini.
    And I can guess what you were doing when you wrote it:)

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  8. I love riddle poems.
    My youngest told me this riddle today (but it doesn't rhyme in English)"What has wheels on the inside but doesn't roll and a face that doesn't speak?

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  9. I love the outlet poem, especially "you fry."

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  10. Very fun! I've never tried writing riddle poems. Way to hard for me! I like yours, very cute.

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  11. Riddle poems are so much fun! It's been a while since I've tried writing one. Thanks for re-inspiring me this winter.

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  12. I have a collection of my own riddle poems, as well, that has not yet made the rounds since I'm not through pestering the publishers with other work.

    A contest would be fun, but I don't agree that the winner should be a "stumper." I think some of the best riddles are not hugely difficult to figure out, but are arguably even more fun if they can be figured out and they still seem clever.

    Like the plug socket riddle that Jill posted. I doubt anyone was "stumped," but it might have been even more fun because we could see where it was going and still get a nice little (ahem) charge out of it. It should be just hard enough that you need to think enough to be proud to figure out, but not so hard that you can't be pretty sure you're getting it.

    Not like the riddle that is said to have so frustrated Homer that he literally died trying to figure it out:

    The ones we do not catch, we keep.
    The ones we catch, we throw away.

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  13. Thanks everyone. Glad my riddle made you giggle.

    Bob, regarding stumping...I think if you stump your reader your riddle poem has failed. These riddles poems are for children so my goal is to challenge them, make them smile and then give them enough clues so that they can use their creativity to figure out the answer.

    Oh, and no contest forthcoming. I know this is corny, but I like everyone to feel like a winner so I don't like choosing one person over the rest:)

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  14. I'm gonna take a stab at the riddles that have been posted here so far:

    Warm and steamy things I hold
    Sip from me when it is cold
    I have but a single ear
    To pick me up with, not to hear
    A coffee mug.

    What has wheels on the inside but doesn't roll and a face that doesn't speak?
    A clock.

    The ones we do not catch, we keep.
    The ones we catch, we throw away.
    Bugs or rats.

    ReplyDelete

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