Poetry Friday – Bananagrams Poetry

It’s Poetry Friday and the host today is Ramona at Pleasures from the Page, with some back to school poetry goodness. Thank you for hosting, Ramona.

This summer I got a new Bananagrams game. I play with other people as often as I can, but I also have a brain-game hobby to play an almost daily game of solitaire Bananagrams. First, I choose 21 tiles and use them up in a grid, just like in the real game. Then, I choose 7 more and use them all, continuing to take 7 at a time until they are gone. (If needed, I also allow myself to “dump” one tile and pick 3 different ones, which is one of the rules in the real game.)

Some of my solitaire grids. (You may find a rotten banana or two if you look closely.)

One time I played making all “Rotten Banana” words. Silly, I know, but the words are fun to read.

Needing some more creativity, I guess, I thought to try some Bananagrams poetry. Here’s what I do:

  1. Choose 15 tiles and create a word or two or three.
  2. Commit to one or more of those words as a topic or part of a poem.
  3. Then the whole pile of letters are available face up to create a short poem on the topic.
  4. If there is more than one person participating, first come on the letters remaining.

Here are my first attempts with the caption telling the words I first saw in my 15-tile start.

“BAILEY” stood out, which was the name of a boy I bullied in sixth grade.
“Quiet” and part of “Bible”
“helix” and “lover”

Then I got the tiles out when my family came for dinner. There were five of us, and it was the first time I had ever asked them to “think poetically,” so it was awkward and the results were mostly silly. However, look at this beauty my sister-in-law created called “Hummingbird.”

Her first words were “sweet” and most of “song”

What other guidelines might you make for Bananagrams Poetry?

And just like that we’re finishing up the Sealey Challenge. The month went quickly, and I loved reading poetry each day. I hope I will continue reading more poetry. Hopefully it is becoming a habit.

August 25One Last Word: Wisdom from The Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

Have you read this book? Nikki Grimes takes poems from the Harlem Renaissance and creates golden shovel poems for them. Here are the first two stanzas of her poem based on the first two lines of “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I needed to read some poetry like this when I was in junior high:

August 26A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood lyrics by Fred Rogers

Did you know 143 was Fred Rogers’ favorite number. It represented the number of letters in I Love You.

August 27Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins – Though every poem is not related to Rollins being a librarian, there is so much she taught me about history and the world. Teacher-librarians and others, you will want to read this one, if you haven’t already.

August 28American Faith by Maya C. Popa

From “Lewisburg”
From “On the Forces of Improvisation Under the Gun Law”

August 29Ellington Was Not A Street by Ntozake Shange – This is a beautiful book about the musicians and activists who visited the family home of the author as she grew up.

August 30Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitos, and Other Fun Things selected by Paul B. Janeczko

This was a delightful surprise of children’s poems from so many greats. The surprise started on page 1 with this beauty by George Ella Lyon.

August 31Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten by Laura Purdie Salas

What a sweet picture book by Laura! Here’s one of my favorite sections. After a full day of over-stimulation, Clover, melts down when a tail gets brushed in her face. “Clover spit. She bit. She threw a fur-flying hissy fit. ‘I quit!’ Clover fled.” The illustrations by Hiroe Nakata are precious. It’s a perfect book for a child who gets overwhelmed with sensory overload, or for friends of children who do. And bonus: the book is still on sale this week.

From Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Bananagrams Poetry

  1. I enjoyed playing with Bananagrams with my 2.5 year old granddaughter. We spelled her name and then she kept adding S’s. I love the idea of using them to make poems. I can do this with students. Thanks for such a rich post.

  2. I don’t know Banana Grams at all but I like how you worked it out to connect to poetry, Denise. What fun! I, too, like what your sister-in-law created, and your bullying poem is breathtaking. As for the silly words, I rather like ‘squigbow’! Finally, I have and love One Last Word: Wisdom from The Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes. It’s brilliant, isn’t it? Thanks for all!

  3. Oh, I play Bananagram solitaire, too! I’ve not tried it for poetry, though. It’s perfect for that brevity of moment. And yet, still leaves room for voice. Well done. And also, what treasure to peak inside these lovely poetry books. Thank-you for sharing.

  4. I love bananagrams so much that my family is a bit tired of playing with me…I will now start playing by Denise rules! So many good things in this post, Denise. I love the poetry you share and all the wonderful poets that light up this entry. Thank you!

  5. Your post makes me ready to get on etsy & look for a Banannagrams! Never owned a set.
    The hummingbird result is total kismet.
    Nikki Grimes has taught me so much, in workshop & thru reading her potent Truth. I still send families her WORDs WITH WINGS.
    So much nourishment in this post, hope to return & savor this Labor Day Weekend.

  6. I had never heard of Bananagrams. I love the ones you shared, especially “Hummingbird” and “Bailey”. It looks like a fun game to play. Thank you for sharing these!

  7. Thanks for all the pictures and ideas for Bananagrams! The hummingbird is great. And Bailey… Quiet Bible… a few words can be powerful. It reminds me of NPM with Laura Purdie Salas.

    The George Ella Lyon poem reminds me of this collection I just found at the library this week: Glory in the Margins: Sunday Poems by Nikki Grimes.

  8. Oh gosh! Bananagrams! What a perfect poet’s game! I’m sort of addicted to word games (on my phone) – limiting myself to one/day – otherwise I wouldn’t get anything written. But this feels like a writing exercise to get the poetry juices flowing! Thank you!

  9. Ha! What fun! I used Bananagrams tiles with my writer’s circle students when I had the group, years ago. Somehow, it takes the pressure off of being “poetic” – at least I think so. I like how you shared your “game rules” with all of us. It makes me want to dig my tiles out (but they might still be packed from our move last year). Thanks1

  10. Time to dig out the bananagrams. I haven’t played that in ages! I love the hummingbird!

  11. I just lost my comment with some sort of glitch. I’ll try to comment again.
    Denise, I never played Bannagrams but do like how you created small poems with the tiles. Thanks for all the rich detail you added to this post.

  12. When I retired, I donated my bananagrams along with most of my Word Game Wednesday games. Now I’m wishing I had them again. I may have to rectify this situation… 🙂 Your poems (and your SIL’s) are stunning. I like the way you round up your Sealy reading. I may have to try that next year. I, too, was stunned by ONE LAST WORD and I’m going to get the Janeczko collection from the library to see if I need to own it. That poem by George Ella Lyons is a keeper for sure!

  13. Denise! Hiskfummler and fezer! I love these words. Hiskfummler – one who fummles their hisks. Ah, Nikki Grimes, an amazing poet and amazing person. Invocation – is that the poem from which The Inklings chose their name? Thank you for all of these wonderful snippets! I have to go find my bananagrams.

    1. Tracey, that’s a good question about the Inklings name. I thought of them when I read it too. Can an Inkling answer that question about how they got their name?

  14. Denise, I love Bananagrams but never thought to write poems with the tiles. Brilliant! And the hummingbird poem is magic. Helix Lovers is pretty neat. I didn’t know that fact about Mr. Rogers! Thanks for everything in your post.

  15. So much goodness in this post, Denise. I used to play Bananagrams with kids in school, but never thought about using it to write poems. Brilliant! Thanks for all the great suggestions.

  16. Oh, I love this idea of using Bananagrams for poetic inspiration. I’m definitely going to have to dig out my set! Also, thanks for sharing the snippets from your Seeley Challenge reading. There are some wonderful sneak peeks there! I love, love, love “Invocation”!

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