Tag Archives: Jessica Swaim

Classic poetry for Dogs

4 Feb

Many people wonder what their dog might say if s/he could talk. Sometimes the girls look at me as if they are on the verge of speech.I shudder to think.

But imagine a world in which dogs channeled long dead poets. Which poet would your dog channel? What would they wax poetic about? Well, the answer is here. Jessica Swaim, has written a brilliantly funny book of poems written by dogs with names such as Elizabeth Basset Browning. You can see what this is so appealing to me.

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It is not just a basset thing, though. This book is really wonderful. for each poet, whose name incorporates some sort of poundage, Swaim rewrites a classic, in the voice of that dog. Funny, yes, but way a marvelous way to engage students who fear or dislike poetry. A few of the poets included are William Shakespaw, Edgar Allan Pug,Henry Wagsworth Longfellow ,Emily Doginson,  Walt Whippet, Rudyard Kibble, William Corgi Williams,  P. P. Cummings, Droolin’ Thomas, and Anonymutt.

Let’s look at what Swaim does with one of my favorite poets to use in the classroom, William Carlos Williams, aka William Corgi Williams.

First, she creates a biography and a picture  (by illustrator Chet Williams) that blends the poet on whom she is basing her work with the breed of dog.

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Then, she writes poems in imitation of the poet. I like to use WCW’s poems because they are short and the language is simple. Here are two poems that I, and many teachers, often use, in the voice of William Corgi Williams.

Red Fire Hydrant

so much depends upon

a red fire hydrant

gleaming in the sun

beside the relieved Dalmatians.

Oh, By the Way    

I have gobbled the bratwurst you left on
the counter,

the fries,
the kosher pickle, and two-ply napkin

then threw them all up
on the new rug in the foyer.

Forgive me,
but was white
a wise
choice of colors?

Poetry lovers, dog lovers, people who teach poetry to teens, will all enjoy this book.

I reviewed this book from a pdf provided by the author. The book will be published March 1st. You can get more information about the book at  Jessica Swaim’s website.


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