How To Write a "Backwards" Poem
 
by Bruce Lansky
 
Backwards poems are great fun. They’re not only easy to write, they’re super funny.

To help get you started, I’m going to give you the first and last couplets of a poem by Doug Florian that’s published in Miles of Smiles. It’s called, sensibly enough, "Mr. Backward."

    Mr. Backward lives in town.
    He never wakes up, he always wakes down.
    (Insert your couplets here.)
    He goes to sleep beneath his bed
    While wearing slippers on his head.

Rhythm and rhyme: As you’ll discover, the rhythm pattern in the last couplet is cleaner (more consistent) than the first couplet, so that’s the one to follow:

    da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM (A)
    da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM (A)

As you can see, both lines feature four iambic (da DUM) beats. And both lines rhyme. Pretty simple isn’t it? Now that you’ve got the rhythm and rhyme, all you need is a list of stupid things Mr. Backward does. For example, later in the same poem, Florian has Mr. Backward raking leaves off trees and baking a cake with antifreeze.

As usual, I suggest you make a list of items to get your creative juices flowing. Then, work out the rhyme and rhythm to make a funny couplet. When you get really good, try coming up with an entire backwards poem on your own!

 

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