B is for Breathing and Ballads

art by gubgib

art by gubgib

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. As a teacher I’ve used the A-Z idea for brainstorming new topics, for studying, and for writing. This is post is one is a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

is for taking a breather. “When you complete your work…put your manuscript in an envelope, slide the envelope into the trunk in your closet with your winter sweaters (and seasons one, two, and three of ‘Gilmore Girls’) and keep it in there no fewer than three weeks. When you get it back out, re-read it. Make necessary adjustments – Kevin Alexander, an editor at Thrillist since 2008.

I liked this quote just because of the reference to Gilmore Girls. But, it also has other merit.

When you are writing something long, such as a book, story, or article, it is good to take a breather from it when you are finished. Step away and work on something else. When you return to it, you will be able to reread it with fresh eyes. While you’ve been away you may have come up with a fabulous idea that will put a spark in your story, or you may be able to tweak your article so that it’s more readable or you might have thought of a better way to introduce a character.

B is also for ballad. A ballad is a short narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines and usually a refrain (like a chorus). The story of a ballad can begin from a wide range of subject matter but most often deals with folk-lore or popular legends. Most ballads are suitable for singing. They are generally written in ballad meter, i.e., alternating lines of iambic tetrameter (da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM) and iambic trimeter (da DUM da DUM da ) with the last words of the second and fourth lines rhyming.

Last year I asked for the name of a famous person to use as a focus of a ballad. Someone sent me Jimmy Carter’s name and the following is what I wrote. Whether you are a fan  of Carter or not, I hope you enjoy it. I followed the rhyming pattern and beat pattern, and it’s factual, but perhaps not my best work. Still,  it was fun to put together!

The Ballad of Jimmy Carter

Born in Georgia, oldest of four

James Earl Carter his name

 After him came children, three more

But he got most the fame

A gifted boy, he loved to read

He played basketball, too

He would grow up to do good deeds

Much more he’d later do

College was in Americus

Navy was after that

On submarines he made no fuss

He was a patriot

Rosalynn was his lovely wife

But next his dad did die

He was no stranger then to strife

To navy he said bye

He worked now on the peanut farm

And wealthy he became

Politics soon saw his charm

The senate his first game

Governor first, then president

It all came in a whirl

He smiled and was a southern gent

With Amy, his sweet girl

He served his term, the years went by

Other things he did do

Habitat for Humanity

His legacy ‘tis true

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