Today I am posting a shape poem about the blue whale – which is not the same whale as Jackie Morris’ beautiful illustration of an orca!
Blue whales are are protected but are still threatened – primarily by climate change affecting their food source, krill, collisions cause by boats, and getting entangled in fishing nets.
It is the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much 20 elephants or so. Their plaintive calls make them the loudest animal on earth, even louder than a jet engine, but you can’t hear it out of the water as the sound waves are too large to be carried in the air. It is thought that their call is probably used to attract other blue whales.
It’s National Poetry Day 2022 which is of course my FAVOURITE day of the year – everything is poetry!
So here is my poem for National Poetry Day 2022 this year, as a shape poem. The otter poem is also available on the National Poetry Day website as words!
Otters were almost extinct in the 50s and have made a bit of a comeback with a concerted effort to clean up rivers and riverbanks, where they live, hunt and breed. They cannot live in dirty rivers – so the recent news of raw sewage being discharged into our waterways is not good news for the otter.
Below is a film my husband made of me reading my otter shape poem.
Perhaps you’d like to write a poem about an animal yourself?
I started by reading all about otters, and their lives – otters were very endangered but recently their numbers have increased due to rivers being cleaned up.
I often draw the animal I am about to write about – it helps me think as I am trying to come up with what I am going to say in my poem.
My next stage was to think of words that could describe things about otters – their eyes and thick, shiny fur, the way they walk, how they swim and catch prey. I watched some videos online. There is nothing like seeing the animal moving to give you ideas!
I suggest writing down all the words and grouping them together in different ways – using alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme etc. You don’t have to rhyme, in fact it’s better not to as then you can really think about the words and what sounds well together – but words that sound similar in rhythm or syllables are helpful.
If you do find two words that rhyme, even in an un-rhyming poem, they can be used to create a satisfying end.
In the 1960s the robin was voted to be the UK’s favourite bird – and in 2015 it again took top prize, when more than 224,000 people took part in the National Bird Vote – 34% of them voted for the robin. The next two favourites were the barn owl and the blackbird.
The robin is not endangered – it is a clever, friendly, common bird that has adapted to living in most habitats. It cannot however deal with very harsh winters – so if climate change means that we see more snow, and periods of very cold temperatures during the winter months, this may change.
Here is my robin poem – I wondered what advice the robin might have to other birds to become the number one choice!
The brown hare is relatively common in many parts of the UK, but relatively rare in the south west. It has a species action plan under the UK Biodiversity Action plan, but unfortunately, it is one of two species in the UK which has minimal protection because it is considered to be game, and can be shot all year round.
Hares live above ground, unlike rabbits, and forage in the early morning and evenings. Their young are left in a shallow scrape in the ground all day, relying on their camouflage, and the mother hare comes back only once or twice day to feed them.
National Poetry Day’s theme this year is the environment.
For me, today is giraffe day – below is my giraffe shape poem. you don’t tend to think of giraffes being endangered. And giraffes were mostly not endangered in the 1980s – but in some areas since, their numbers have dropped by a staggering 95%, which leaves two species critically endangered, one endangered, two vulnerable, one near threatened, and only ONE species of least concern.
Why? Well, habitat loss is a large contributing factor. Where giraffes used to range, their land is being converted into ranches and farms – roads are being built to these, and giraffes are run into by cars. Some people make a living by burning trees the giraffes eat to make charcoal to sell.
Wildlife trafficking and poaching has increased due to civil war – people are killing giraffes to eat, and selling parts of them for goods made from bone – such as knives and gun parts – much of which is shipped to the United States.
Giraffes are also falling prey to disease due to inbreeding, as there are fewer places for them to live and fewer giraffes to choose a mate from. Drought, because of climate change, is also making giraffe habitats smaller.