Friday, February 11, 2011

Poetry Friday--You're Kenning, Right?

Today is day five of my virtual book tour celebrating the release of my new book, Reader's Theater for Global Explorers. But it's also Poetry Friday in Kidslitosphere. Each day of the blog tour, I have asked a question pertaining to one of the explorers in the book. Yesterday's question leads us right into Poetry Friday.

Yesterday's question: Which explorer's story was originally told in poetic form?

The answer is Leif Erickkson. Skalds, court poets of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders, recorded Nordic history in poems and songs. The Greenlander's Saga is the account of Leif's exploration in Vinland, or present-day Canada.

This was the first script I wrote for the book, the one I sent to my editor with my proposal and table of contents. It was fun coming up with my own kennings (a literary device common in skaldic poetry) and making the interaction between the skald and the narrator humorous.

The skald, or the poet, held a place of honor in Nordic culture. His job was to keep a record of all that happened and to sing the praises of his leader. Instead of naming the thing he meant to talk about, the skald put two other nouns together to describe the object, making a kenning. For example, a farmer is a guardian of the spade. A ship is a whale rider. The skald is the tale-bearer.

The skald might say something like this: You are a true falcon, frost-ruler. Every prince is much worse than you are.

Please stop by Rasco from RIF for more Poetry Friday. Leave me a post with your own kennings, and I'll enter your name in the drawing for three free books. See Day One post for descriptions.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class:

Have you ever written poetry?

I have, and I love writing it. Here's a poem I wrote.

Cancelled Flight

An ocean of travelers

sprawl across islands of baggage

like scurvy-ridden sailors

adrift on a windless sea.

A disembodied voice

announces another numbered flight

that will not reach home.

I close my eyes

and wish I were nine,

lying in the back seat

where I watched

the slow strobe

of lights

flash by,


the gentle

pressure on my side

as the car

turned right

and climbed

the hill



Today's Question: What city sent a messages to an explorer in outer space?

Monday, I'll be talking about how I landed the contract for this book before writing it. Enjoy your weekend.


  1. What a fun post! Well done, you word-wrangler.

  2. Yeah, Robin. Love your kenning and thanks for the praise.

  3. I love this lesson on kennings and skalds! And your poem is a picture I think many have seen this winter. Bring on spring!!

  4. Thanks, Irene. I saw my first daffodils in the back yard this morning. I wanted to jump for joy. I'm so ready for spring.

  5. I liked this post and your poem is really beautiful!