Bio Poem

As a Creative Writing teacher for the last five years, one of the many challenges I faced was getting the students to realize that poetry can be simple and fun. It’s doesn’t have to be a highbrow exercise in condescension. My favorite poet, Billy Collins, is nothing if not simple and direct with his word choice and imagery. It’s the simplicity that elicits the thoughtful approach any poet hopes their readers take.

Poetry is about the manipulation of words to create an image, an evocative image. It’s the use of language to produce a cohesive idea that transcends mere writing and lifts poetry to art. That being said, many novice writers may feel incredibly intimidated with the prospect of having to produce poetry. My approach to help desconstruct that barrier for the students is to introduce a formula poem like the Bio Poem.

Formula poetry is a style of poetry that adheres to an established set of guidelines in the creation of the work. There are different styles of formula poetry, some obviously more difficult than others. Some of the most popular formula poems are Haiku, Sonnets, and Cinquains, but the types I found most useful at the beginning stages of my poetry units were poems where the students finished a given line with different information. As the unit evolved, the poems became more difficult because the guidelines became less stringent.

The Bio Poem also served a dual purpose. When used at the beginning of the semester, this formula poem can also act as an icebreaker of sorts. Below you will find the guidelines for the formula, and my own Bio Poem. There are any number of different Bio Poems and this specific set of lines was presented to me at the Zelda Glazer Writing Institute about seven years ago. My intention with this post is to have it serve a something of an icebreaker for the community of this blog. I’d love it if my readers here would write their own Bio Poem as comments under this post. Please share!

Bio Poem

Line #1: First Name
Line #2: Four Adjectives to describe certain character traits
Line #3: “Relative of…” (list three people/things)
Line #4: “Lover of…” (list three people/things)
Line #5: “Who feels…” (list three)
Line #6: “Who needs…” (list three)
Line #7: “Who gives…” (list three)
Line #8: “Who fears…” (list three)
Line #9: “Who would like to see…” (list three)
Line #10: Last Name
Here’s my Bio Poem:
Creative, Crafty, Compassionate, Comfortable
Relative of Readers, Day-dreamers, and Starters
Lover of Family, Friends, and Coffee
Who feels Frustrated and Tired, or Happy and Rested
Who needs rest, quiet, and more coffee
Who gives time, effort, and the occassional cliché  
Who fears my imagination, failure, and cockroaches (Thanks, Mom!)
Who would like to see my book at Barnes & Noble, the Pyramids, and the Dolphins win a Super Bowl
Again, feel free to post your own Bio Poem below. I’d love to read it. Ultimately, poetry is an art form meant to be enjoyed.
Here’s a link to one of my favorite Billy Collins poems.

11 thoughts on “Bio Poem

  1. MikeSimple, complexed, dedicated and bestRelative of lazes, too many and flexedLove the ocean, my family and anything that’s blueWho feels more pain than when young, stronger than my son, and feels it to be trueWho needs more time, more guns and more sleepWho gives not enough, yet sometimes too much, but certainly is not cheapWho fears the unknown, not finishing and not accomplishing something greatWho would like to see world peace, big feats and my children’s children without debate Fresco

  2. ChrisCalm, Cool, Collected, ConfidentRelative of Athletes, Hustlers, and DoersLove of Family, Sports, Money Who feels Bored, Anxious, and LazyWho needs more time, his own business, and mo money mo moneyWho gives a Shit, Fuck, and his heartWho fears not being in control, Death, but not someone who breathes the same air as meWho would like to see my bank account with 7 digits, the world, and Baby Jesus (after I die of course)Fernandez

  3. Christina MarieSensitive, Emotional Wreck, Driven and ResponsibleRelative of Family, Sisters and Organic Chemistry (ugh)Lover of Matt, Traveling and SmilingWho feels over- whelmed, filled with expectations and slightly drownedWho needs a break, then another break and maybe one moreWho gives every ounce of energy towards school, work, and more schoolWho fears Failure, Applications and Organic Chemistry Who would like to see the canals in Venice, the Swiss mountains and visit the “cafes” in AmsterdamAndres

  4. Caitlin aka KansasLoving, Hopeful, Accepting, CompassionateRelative of the Innocent, the Underserved and the ForgottenLover of Beauty, Simplicity and HumorWho feels Anxious, Excited, Ready to RunWho needs Support, Quiet and CaffeineWho gives Time, Words and SolutionsWho fear Rejection, Failure and LonelinessWho would like to see better education for all children, better access to physical and mental health services and equality for allBlackwell

  5. JanexisCaring, easygoing, shy, determinedRelative of family, sorority sisters, and DisneyLover of my family, friends, and the outdoorsWho feels overwhelmed, excited, kid at heartWho needs to finish a paper, a vacation, strengthWho gives friendship, encouragement, and a shoulder to lean onWho fears regrets, nightmares, disappointment Who would like to see my future husband, more justice, a financially secured future Cruz

  6. DianaGiddy, Emotional, Determined, and RidiculousRelative of Adventure, All Nighters, and a wonderful and extended FamilyLover of spontaneity, chocolate, and MichaelWho feels overwhelmed, over excited, and warmWho needs love, patience, and laughterWho gives my heart, my time, and bad jokesWho fears abandonment, encroaching essay deadlines, and some episodes of Doctor WhoWho would like to see my brother graduate, my family in good health, and everyone that I left in MiamiDuran

  7. SarahSilly, Simple, Strong, & StubbornRelative of a Fighter, a Prankster, & a MusicianLover of God, my family, & memoriesWho feels rushed through life, tired from the "to-do", and safe in His handsWho needs hugs, chocolate, and my pillowWho gives smiles, comfort, & laughsWho fears time, uncertainty, & David's critique of my poemWho would like to see our future home, a safe world for my babies, & all of my loved ones in Heaven. Fernandez

  8. Aleshy, paranoid, daydreamer, musicianrelative of movers, shakers, and the occasional artistlover of creation, exploration, and beardswho feels inspired, tired, and overwhelmedwho needs freedom, a hasselblad, and a bikewho gives a wink, a smile, and a nice song on her mandolinwho fears moments passing, growing old, and bad breathwho would like to see her friends right now, the Flaming Lips, and her photos in the MoMa. word.Campos.

  9. Donaldmellow, meticulous, motivated, modestRelative of… achievers, helpers, growers Lover of… Christ, sports, family Who feels… blessed, loved, content Who needs… water, sunshine, musicWho gives… loyalty, the truth, sarcasm Who fears… loss, disappointing, paralysis Who would like to see… our child, a Jaguars Super Bowl win, what awaits in heavenBlanchard

  10. MichelleAthletic, Determined, Practical, TrustworthyRelative of the Good-hearted, Uncharted, and DepartedLover of Whom We Call Family, Friends, and 8th CousinsWho feels Like She’s Got More To Give, Can Never Forgive, and Fossils to OutliveWho needs Sports, Books, and a PencilWho gives Love, Life, and Laughter Who fears Snakes, Lies, and Phonies Who would like to see Pigs Fly, When Hell Freezes Over, and the Sun Rise From The WestSierra

  11. MarjorieBusy, learner, joker, and country,Relative of God-fearers, crafters, and fun-lovers,Who loves God, His selections and gifts of descendants,and books,Who feels like God's favorite widow, grateful for family,and thankful for friends.Who needs more prayer warriors (mine are dropping like flies),a full-time chauffer (how I hate driving!), and love–lots of it,Who gives time and effort in Biblical research, advice (even unsolicited,and friendship,Who fears going nuts (God forbid!), nighttime (thank the Lord there's none in Heaven), and not measuring up,Who would like to see the completion of my bucket list, and all my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in Heaven.Mills

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