Sheep Is a Solid Word [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

A quick invitation before my poem today! Click on the graphic for details and free registration.

Book Launch Party for If You Want to Knit Some Mittens

So, this month, our Poetry Princess challenge was a Wordplay poem, my choice–whee! Now, lots of poems have wordplay in them, of course, but what I’m talking about is the form Nikki Grimes described here (scroll down): “When I talk about wordplay, I’m talking about studying a word from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect of the word:  What it looks like, sounds like, feels like.  What it does, how it’s used, etc.  The idea is to bring all of your senses into the act.” I like to incorporate what the word ITSELF looks like and work that into the poem or even use it as the framework for the whole poem. Not sure that’s what Nikki intends, but I have a blast with them!

Here’s my draft for this week, followed by some extras if you want more–more details, more process, more lesson plans, etc. With my new picture book that published on Tuesday (launch event next Wednesday evening–hope you can come!), I’ve had sheep on the brain a lot! So I decided to start with a sheep for my topic.


Here’s a screen capture of drafts 1 and 2 of this sheep poem. I recommend muting it and choosing a playback speed of 2. That way it’ll be 6 minutes instead of 12!

I did several more drafts and it changed a lot! I did this latest draft while doing live writing with my Poetry Sisters. I had rolled the Metaphor Dice to offer a few words as possible topics. I knew I wanted to work on “Sheep,” so I wasn’t looking for a topic, but when I got to the stage where I was polishing draft 4, I looked at the dice as I had put them back in the box:

I had fun working a few of these words into the draft!

More stuff:

My poem for Nikki’s challenge

More __ Is a Word poems I’ve done since then

All the poems people shared for Nikki’s original challenge

My lesson plan (with messed up photos) from a young authors conference where I taught this form


And here are more Wordplay poems from my Poetry Sisters!


Mary Lee

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to join our challenge for the month of November! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical poem, and like the ancient Greeks, modern humans also enjoy marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you’ll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and pie. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

And the generous Linda at TeacherDance is rounding us up on this wonderful Poetry Friday!




24 Responses

  1. Laura, thank you for sharing a bit of your process. Your sheep poem fits perfectly with your new book If You Want to Knit Some Mittens, which I love! I’m planning to give a copy of your book this Christmas along with a stuffed sheep to the little ones in our family. xo

  2. How generous you are with your time and resources, Laura. I do hope your week as been wonderful, with the new book launching. Sheep is a Solid Word — but your poem is fleet of foot and lively-lovely. Delightful.

  3. I know you have sheep on your mind now, Laura! Thanks for helping me learn about word play poetry. I like how you incorporate the look of the word into your poem. And that flock is certainly “an unstoppable story.”

  4. I enjoy watching your process videos. Someday I’ll have to try that. Maybe. (winkwink)

    You captured so much of what is true about sheep AND you tied your poem back to your book launch! Well played!

  5. I love how you have used the letters and sounds of the word to match the way sheep behave and interact together. So clever and exactly what this form does so well. This was a fun challenge; thanks for bringing it to us!

  6. I love love love how you really broke the word down and make it so… sheepish! Also, happy book birthday to MITTENS!!

  7. I watched the video, not every bit, but skipped along, liked seeing your ‘longer’ lines, then how you cut, Laura. And the poem, playing with “sheep” feels as if you dug into that woolly coat, & really felt the word: “a woolly fleece of e’s”. Congratulations again on your wonderful new book!

  8. I love the hand-me-down “woolly fleece of ‘e’s” and the “heap of sheep / that baa-aa and leap”! Your Young Authors Conference sounds like so much fun! I love those lively interactions.

  9. A heap of sheep! I LOVE that. Also, that lonely shee.… Wow, you put so much internal rhyme and cleverness and wonder into this poem. I’ll forever think “sheep is a solid word” when I see a flock.

  10. How smart to roll again for OTHER words to use within the poem. I had SO much fun with these I’m going to do them for my gratitude project next month (as soon as I turn in this @!()#?*$& novel I’ll be so thankful). I love the broad, stolidity of sheep — muddy fleece and all.

  11. I thought your word play in your poem was brilliant, Laura. The word “sheep” really does suit the look and character of a sheep and that is reflected in such a clever way in your poem. Thank you for the prompt. I will try to write an ode to autumn as it is my favorite month. I am looking forward to reading your new book. I’m a knitter and will love it, I’m sure.

  12. Laura, I enjoyed your video. It makes me feel better that you wrote and revised. I spent such a long time on my poem using the Inktober prompt, patch. Sheep Is a Solid Word works so beautiful as a start-off point. I registered for the launch online and hope to attend.

  13. This is a wonderful example of word play, Laura. I am inspired! Thanks so much for sharing. PS — I was in Mpls for a the weekend… saw some of my favorite people. ;0)

  14. You really captured the sheep in the first few lines, for they stand so still they seem also like a statue. I love the “wooly fleece of “e“s,
    handed down from wind and mud.”

    And your “heap of Sheep”
    Terrific poem Laura! Congrats on this new book, hope it stirs many imaginations, thanks!

  15. We currently have sheep grazing nearby (they are often called “Swiss lawnmowers” :-), so I particularly enjoyed this poem! I love how you link the spelling of the word with their appearance by describing their “wooly fleece of e’s.”

  16. I really love this poem. I feel like you have mastered this form. You make deconstructing the word look so easy, but I know it isn’t. I particularly love the “wooly fleece of e’s.”

    1. Thanks, Tricia–funny you say that because I struggled more with the “sheep” wordplay poem than ANY wordplay poem I’ve done. I’m mildly happy with it, but not thrilled. Still, I do enjoy playing with this poetic form/approach!

  17. Happy book birthday! and sheep is the perfect word to explore. I am hoping to participate in the November challenge

  18. Hi, Laura! Cool! That’s the day I’m supposed to be hosting Poetry Friday, November 26th. Looking forward to reading lots of odes, and making a note to write one myself. I actually had an idea for one the other day, sort of a parody of Keats. Ruth,

  19. Oh no! I just missed the party. Congratulations!

    There are so many little nuggets here to enjoy. I enjoyed your poem. These word play poems have been fun to read.

    Thank you for sharing your process. I always find it interesting to see how others work through their writing.

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