Please give pointers to write a poem called "I am."The poem is supposed to be like Sandy Maas' poem called "I Am." The first stanza starts with "I am," (with two special characteristics you have),...

Please give pointers to write a poem called "I am."

The poem is supposed to be like Sandy Maas' poem called "I Am." The first stanza starts with "I am," (with two special characteristics you have), then "I wonder" (something you are actually curious about), "I hear" (an imaginary sound), "I see" (an imaginary sight), "I want" (an actual desire), and ends with "I am" (the first line of the poem repeated). The second stanza starts with "I pretend" (someting you actually pretend to do), and then "I feel" (a feeling about something imaginary), "I touch" (an imaginary touch), "I worry" (something that really bothers you), "I cry" (something that makes you very sad), and again, "I am" (the first line of the poem repeated). For the third stanza, start with "I understand" (something you know is true), "I say" (something you believe in), "I dream" (something you actually dream about), "I try" (something you really make an effort about), "I hope" (something you actually hope for), and ends with "I am" (the first line of the poem repeated).

Asked on by cyao

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Defined…"Poetry is perhaps the ultimate expression of language." Your poem has a specific structure (using "I am…" or "I…"), but no rhythm and rhyme. It is, however, still a poem.

Your assignment will be easier if you separate it into pieces. My students have done something very similar in the past.

You are first asked to provide a "stanza" (like a paragraph) that begins with "I am" and list two of your characteristics. I do not know you and cannot complete your assignment for you, but I can give you an example for myself:

I am easily entertained and romantic.

This line provides two of my characteristics. Characteristics, in general, could include "generous," "cautious," "out-going", "stubborn," "funny," "shy," etc. They act as adjectives in describing you.

The next part of the same stanza (on the next line) asks you to include something about which you wonder, think or are curious. For example, it could be what would it be like to travel in outer-space, how it might feel to fly, or how it might feel to live on a house-boat.

Next line: continue with an imaginary sound—"I hear"—you might imagine the sound of a cow laughing—this is imaginary as I do not think cows laugh. (Has your teacher said it is something that does not exist or something you have not heard but can only imagine—like the call of a moose…?)

The imaginary "I see" item could be a flying carpet, a talking dog or an owl that wears glasses.

The last line of this first stanza repeats the first line that you wrote to start the poem. In my case, I would write, "I am easily entertained and romantic." (Remember: all of these items should be on separate lines.)

Now skip a full line and begin your second stanza. Start with "I pretend" and list something that you have pretended to be—like a famous rock star or movie star, or that you pretend exists—like no war. On the next line, write "I touch" and complete it with something that you touch in your imagination: perhaps the coat or skin of some kind of animal. The next line begins "I worry"—list something that you worry about. You don't have to write about something really personal if you don't want to, but you could write about something little—like homework or what to wear. The next line lists something that makes you cry…"I cry about or over"—anything that saddens you. The last line of this stanza is the first line of the poem that you wrote—repeated on this new line. Now you can see a pattern emerging. Skip a line.

For the third stanza, write the words "I understand"—finish the line with something you know is true. On a new line, write "I say"—this is something you believe could be as simple as "love."  For the next line, write "I dream" and finish the line with something you actually dream about. Go one then to the following line and write "I try" and list something you really make an effort with—something you try hard at…perhaps a sport or school work. Your next line starts "I hope" and finishes with something you actually hope for. The last line of the stanza is the repetition of the first line of the poem that you wrote, "I am…"

Double-check—each stanza has six lines; each item is on a separate line; and a line is skipped between stanzas. Proofread for spelling.

Reread the poem and see how these simple lines have created something like an autobiography—while still sounding like a poem— each line begins with "I" which is a form of repetition.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The portrait poem by Sandy Maas focuses upon the metaphor of the dolphin in order to characterize himself.  In this way his poem has unity and direction.  Thus, using his personal poem as an example, you can find something in nature to which you can attribute your personality.  This creature of aspect of nature such as a star, etc. should metaphorically represent your goals, or ideals in your life.  This natural thing or creature can then generate the ideas that you hold as valuable, just as Maas does in his poem.  For example, he states, "I am a nutty guy who likes dolphins," then he expands his metaphor and image of the dolphin by writing,

I pretend that I'm the ruler of the world.
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I touch the sky, the stars, the moon, and all the planets as
representatives of mankind.

Maas's reader can imagine a dolphin pretending to be the ruler of his world, touching the sky as he leaps from the water, etc. Likewise, then,  if you choose a star, for instance, as your controlling metaphor, you could write that you feel yourself a part of the universe and then in the next lines, you explain how and why and in what ways you are part of the universe.

Think of what image you wish to be your controlling metaphor, and let your imagination take you from there.  Get out and walk, look around, drive down a road--extend yourself somehow into nature, and an idea will strike you.  This portrait poem is a very personal poem, so you must delve into your own heart for the lines.  Good luck!

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