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Using REPETITION in Poetry

Everywhere I look at present in Blog world or Twitter, I see and hear poetry! This always gets my creative juices flowing, so this post is in support of all those brave teacher poets out there. Hope you can use this idea to astound and amaze your students and colleagues.

Today, it’s all about repeating ourselves…

Repetition is an old and basic element in poetry. It goes back to poetry's origin in chants and spells. Something "magical" happens when you repeat a word, phrase or line. It gives the reader a chance to rest before setting forth again. It becomes the refrain that glues the words together. Words take on new dimensions, subtleties, and connotations. It creates patterns--and echoes. To create a poem using repetition, you could begin by making a list using one of the following starting points:

  • Somewhere you went today
  • Today's weather
  • Description of your clothes
  • An event you witnessed recently
10 randomly selected simple concrete nouns (as opposed to abstract nouns like- faith, hope and charity)

Next, generate 10 close sounding words to link to your nouns e.g. key/ create watch/squash mirror/ mirage.

Now, begin writing freely, using as many of the words/phrases from your list as possible.

Seek out a phrase, word or line you like or feel is evocative? Repeat it.
Should you find you have stalled in your writing, randomly repeat something a thought or idea.

Try to work repetition into your poem in some way, be it a single word, phrase or full line.

Read the results out loud. Chop out any awkward sounding phrases. The aim is to get your words to flow easily from your tongue. If there are no colors in your writing, add some. Keep close to the flesh of your original idea, making it as organic as possible.

To show you I’m a risk taker, here are a couple of my efforts at using repetition.

Dead Rat

Dead rat

Dead rat

Someone's found a dead rat.

Come with me

Come and see

A squishy, squashy dead rat

Dead rat

Dead flat

On the path

What a laugh

A squirmy, germy dead rat

Watch the boys kick it up

Flick it up

Dare you to pick it up

Jody screams

Tony squirms

Someone squeals 'It's full of worms !'

Jodie yells 'That rat just wriggled'

Only jokin’ she then giggled

Dead rat

Dead rat

Some boys have found a dead rat

Come with me

Come and see

An irky-perky dead rat

Dead rat

Dead rat

Leave it there

Dead flat.

Alan j Wright

I Never Said That

I never said that you were fickle

Had bucked teeth

And a nose like a pickle

....I never said that

I never said that you chew jelly

And suck your thumb

When you're watching the telly

....I never said that

I never said you had no manners

Or your ears stuck out

Like great, huge spanners

....I never said that

I never said your brain was small

Or that you had no charm at all

....I never said that

I never called you Teacher's pet

(She's already got a dog I bet)

....I never said that

I never said those things you see

All I said was,

....I agree.

Alan j Wright


  1. I used your Dead Rat poem in a lesson recently Alan. The children came up with some fantastic poems as a result. After using your poems, they have really embraced writing about strange and grotesque things. The repitition poems were a fantastic stepping stone in terms of rhyming. I have found this blog to be an invaluable asset of ideas throughout our poetry teaching... I am going to use the stone poetry this week and can't wait to see the results.

    1. This pleases me greatly. Always gratifying to hear that an idea works for young poets. More power to you for trying this out. Keep up the great work.


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