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An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle

An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
Product Description
An Exercise in Form: The Villanelle
Rationale
One the difficulties I have had teaching poetry in my creative writing class has been getting my students to experiment with established poetic forms. Many of them come into my class having already decided that writing any type of poetry other than free verse is limiting their creativity. I begin teaching forms by explaining to them that learning poetic forms will create a tighter free verse poem, one that readers will find more pleasing and, thus, spend more time thinking about the poem.
I have always been partial to the villanelle. My first introduction to the form was, as it was for many, Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night.” I fell in love with the form, however, when I discovered Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” While I start with the haiku in my progression of poetic forms, I believe that the villanelle is where my students begin to see, and appreciate, the way that a form can bring out new meanings to their words.
Since it can be difficult for students to balance several formal poetic conventions at one time, I created the following introduction to the villanelle that uses inquiry into the form, group work, and two completed products.
Note
The student materials for this unit are available in two forms: a booklet collecting all of the materials or individual handouts that you may print as your students proceed through the unit.
Files included
1. Villanelle lesson plans (Microsoft Word document) 11 pages
2. Villanelle Investigation (Microsoft Word document) 2 pages
3. The Villanelle (Microsoft PowerPoint document) 8 slides
4. Notes on the Villanelle (Microsoft Word document) 1 page
5. Visual Representation of the Villanelle (Microsoft Word document) 1 page
6. Villanelle Class Activity (Microsoft Word document) 9 pages
7. Your Villanelle 1 (Microsoft Word document) 1 page

8. Your Villanelle II (Microsoft Word document) 1 page
9. Villanelle Submission Format (Microsoft Word document) 1 page
10. Villanelle Rubrics (Microsoft Word document) 5 pages
11. Villanelle Student booklet (Microsoft Word document) 25 pages

Goals
Students will experiment with form by writing a variety of different types of poems with specific, traditional forms.

Students will participate in group activities that lead to individual work.

Students will create two (or more) villanelles.

Group 1 excerpt: Investigating the Villanelle
Objectives
By reading models, students will extrapolate the basic rules of the villanelle.
Materials
Printed versions of the villanelles or devices that can access the Internet
Villanelle investigation handouts or the Villanelle booklet
Procedures
1. Distribute the booklets or first handout.
2. Have students read and follow the directions as follows:
Your task for this exercise is the following:
A. Read ten villanelles.
Some villanelles that are available online. I have put links to these villanelles below.


Group 3 excerpt: Writing a Villanelle in Class
Objectives
Students will write lists of words of their choosing that rhyme.
Students will add to lists of rhyming words made by classmates.
Students will write a villanelle by choosing two lists of rhyming words, deciding on images or ideas that come from the lists of words, and applying these ideas to a template.

Materials
Villanelle booklet or “A Method for Writing a Villanelle in Class” handout
Internet access (to find lists of rhyming words if needed)
Two websites that my students find helpful are as follows: http://www.b-rhymes.com/ http://www.rhymer.com/

Procedures
1. Students decide on four words that they find interesting and write these on the top of the four rhyming words handouts.
2. Students write (without consulting online or book sources) as many rhymes as they can for each word. Then, they may add to the list until they have, at least, ten words on their list.
3. Students pass around the lists, adding two words to each of their classmates’ lists. This is the step where using the websites ends up being necessary. In the end, students get their lists back.
4. After reading over the rhyme lists, students pick two sets of rhymes that they feel are most related.
5. Have students brainstorm about the lists. What do they see in the lists: Ideas? Patterns? Images?
6. Have students write two villanelles using the lists of rhymes as a starting place. Have them refer to the villanelle pattern after the notes for a visual representation of the poem.

Sample Rubric Except:
Final Draft Villanelle I
1. Clarity of Content _____/25
Does the poem suggest some meaning that is accessible to
readers (even if the reader must make some effort to discern a
meaning)?
2. Content Within the Form _____/20
How does the content arise from or interact with the structure
of a villanelle?
3. Diction _____/25
Does every word in the poem work toward a meaning? Are
the words consistent in tone? If any words deviate from
meaning or tone, does this deviation contribute to the overall
effect created by the poem?
If your word choice deviates in any way from the content or tone,
write a short explanation for this/these deviations below:
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
4. Number of Lines and Stanza _____/10
Does the poem adhere to the structure of a villanelle with
respect to the number of lines and stanzas?
If you do not have the traditional number of lines arranged
in the traditional number of stanzas, write a short explanation
as to why you deviated from traditional form below:
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________

Total of Points from page 1 _____/80

Total Pages
30 pages 8 slides
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
4 days
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