It’s Poetry Month so it’s time I got off my, “I’m too busy with other things” high horse and did some writing. If I’m going to write, it’s going to be fun because I am extremely busy, so it’s going to be nonsensical. I enjoy writing nonsense and reading it too.
If you’re not sure you know any nonsense poems or not sure what it is, may I direct your attention to the Jabberwocky or almost any Dr. Seuss works. In these you will find some essential elements to a nonsense poem such as, made up words and silly story-lines.
For instance, the Jabberwocky is riddled with made up words that most can’t even figure out how to pronounce, let alone determine their meaning.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
As you can see in this first stanza from “The Jabberwocky” there are very few familiar to guide us. There is some description of the location, and there appear to be creatures or things doing some sort of activity, or behaving in some fashion. Reading more we understand that there is a creature called a Jabberwock, that a fight ensues, and it is slain. I love how I can let my imagination take me in any direction it chooses each time I read it.
Dr. Seuss manages to use made up words and tell silly stories that can teach and entertain. For instance, in the Lorax we have many made up names and words. He tells us of “Grickle-grass,” “gruvvulous gloves,” and, of course, the “Truffula Trees.” He weaves with language creating delicious worlds, and gently pulls us in to take part.
If you’re like me, you may not be quite clever enough to invent words or a language or even a different world for your poems. So, I choose to write nonsense using the things around me. Here’s a sample of a poem I wrote a number of years ago while sitting at my desk at work. I remember I was trying to work out a problem on a file and let my mind wander to all the stuff at my desk.
Excellent educational teamwork brings clarity to rocking regional knots.
Spinning paper scribbles integrate quick mail monkeys s
Stacking plastic keys under tables.
Tinker Bell violence, after inspection,
Credits calendars with water trash before folders help index text.
To write poems like this you must be knowledgeable in the parts of speech and all the different ways a word can be used. For instance, in this piece the word ‘index’ in the last line is used as a verb. So, as I look around my desk now I can identify things whose names can be used as a noun or verb or adjective. These are the words you can use to make this type of poem come together. Here’s another example.
Whirlpool filters swirl around Arizona sugar
Silver magnets multiply root beer carafes
Please refill igloo hot pads.
I wrote this while standing in the kitchen of the office where I currently work. Once again, I let my mind wander over the words and items I saw around me and put down these lines on a post-it note.
It’s silly and fun to write poems like this. It’s also a good exercise for your brain to work out how the words for thing can be used to write out sentences.