Poetry: Non-Traditional Forms

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Lehman (flickr.com).

Poetry: Non-traditional Forms

NOTE: This lesson will work best in classrooms where more tradition forms of poetry have already been discussed.


Students will…

  • read three poems by Erik DeLapp.
  • be engaged in National Poetry Month (April).
  • use critical reading skills and in-text support to discuss the form of the poems.
  • compose their own non-traditional poems.
  • have the option to submit their writing to YARN.  Be sure to advise them to read and observe the Submission Guidelines before submitting.

What you’ll need:

  • Erik DeLapp’s poems: “Kobayashi Moru,” “Letters Between Ex-Lovers,” and “Blogosphere”
  • A computer with Internet that can be viewed on an overhead screen.


  • Review the YARN site, including “About YARN,” “Meet the Editors,” and “Submission Guidelines.”
  • Assign DeLapp’s poems as online reading homework, or during quiet reading time in the school computer lab. Since this won’t be printed material that they can underline, ask them to use paper or class journals to jot down lines or ideas from the texts that jump out at them.
  • Set up computer with overhead screen in classroom.

In Class:

  1. Introduce YARN to the class, especially the “About YARN” and “Meet the Editors” pages.
  2. Open the essay and story in different tabs, or windows, on the computer screen.
  3. Since DeLapp’s poems might seem very strange to them, warm them up with basic questions: Did you like the poems? Why or why not? Ask them to point out specific lines and words to support their feelings.
  4. If it hasn’t come up already, ask students if these “felt” like poems? Why or why not? If they aren’t poems, what are they? What elements of their form make these into poems and not something else, like an essay?  Perhaps ask students to compare Erik’s poems to other, more traditional poems you have read in class this year.
  5. What have they learned about the formal aspect of poetry from this discussion?

NB: Students need not come to a consensus about the issues discussed above. In fact, a lingering ambiguity might inspire more complicated pieces.

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