Resources on poetry by the poets themselves

Shape Poems

A shape poem is a poem where the visual layout of the words reflects the shape or aspect of the poem’s subject. A poem about a snake could be laid out on the page in the shape of a snake. Ditto a poem about an elephant. Here is an excellent example of a shape poem by Leonard Clark:

Earth-Worm

                Do
				        you
                          squirm
                       when
                     you
                  see
              an earth-worm?
			 I never
			    do squirm
                because I think
                     a big fat worm
                        is really rather clever
                              the way it can shrink
                                                    and go
                                               so small
                                         without 
                                  a sound
                              into the ground.
                            And then
                         what about
                      all 
                   that
                work it does
             and no oxygen
                  or miner’s hat?
              Marvellous
                 you have to admit,
                    even if you don’t like fat
                         pink worms a bit,
                           how with that
                              thin
                          slippery skin
                      it makes its way
                  day after day
               through the soil,
           such honest toil.
        And don’t forget
    the dirt
        it eats, I bet
          you wouldn’t like to come out
            at night to squirt
             it all over the place
               with no eyes in your face:
                   I doubt
                 too if you know
            an earth-worm is deaf, but
         it can hear YOU go
     to and fro
  even if you cut
it in half.
   Do not laugh
      or squirm
         again
             when
                you 
                    suddenly
                         see
                           a worm.

LEONARD CLARK

Reproduced with permission from the Literary Executor of Leonard Clark

ACTIVITY

Animals (snakes, giraffes, elephants) and weather (rain, snow, lightning) make great subjects for shape poems. The poems can be done on posters too!

BIBLIOGRAPHY/SHAPE POEMS

Madtail, Miniwhale and Other Shape Poems ed. Wes Magee (Puffin, 1991)
Picture a Poem by Gina Douthwaite (Red Fox, 1995)