Poetry Challenge #77-Heave-Ho! Chant-She-Blows!

Sing-Alongs are always challenging—and sometimes embarrassing—even for me. (And those of you who know me, know I love to sing—badly.) The worst is when someone sticks a microphone in my face and I don’t know the words. That’s when I resort to the trusty mumble-mumble-murmer-murmer— la-di-dah-daaaaaaaa

My Best Friend’s Wedding  Classic!

My Best Friend’s Wedding Classic!

Songwriters who like audiences who sing-along— pirate ship captives & those wanting tips, for example—make singing along easier by writing song with repeated refrains—the more often repeated the better. Which brings me to today’s prompt.

Poetry Challenge #77

Heave-Ho! Chant-She-Blows!

“The chant poem is about as old as poetry itself,” writes Robert Lee Brewer in his Oct. 23, 2012 post. “Chant poems simply incorporate repetitive lines that form a sort of chant. Each line can repeat [as they do in Blues’ songs], or every other line [as in a Sea Shanty].” Sailors sang shanties as they rowed or heaved on ropes to keep everyone working at the same pace. It’s believed “Shanty” is a morphism of “chanty” meaning both the type of song and a name for the sailor who leads the singing. By way of an example, below is a Chant Poem Cindy created.  

Snow fell this morning, soft and white and cold,
I was thinking of our bench in Central Park today.

I liked it more before I got so old,
I was thinking of our bench in Central Park today.

I left the city a long time ago,
I was thinking of our bench in Central Park today.

Now I hear sounds of birds—the caws of crows,
I was thinking of our bench in Central Park today.
— --Cindy Faughnan

Follow these three easy steps to create your own Chant Poem—Or “Shanty” if you will! 

  1. Find a headline in a newspaper or magazine that you like the sound of. That will be your chant.

  2. Write a four line rhyming poem where the first 2 lines rhyme and the last 2. AABB

  3. Insert the chant between each line of your rhyming poem and you have a chant poem.

“They know a song will help the job along…”

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 1042 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Need a Little Snappy Happy-Ever After, Too?


My hands-down favorite stick-in-my head musical number goes, "We need a little music/need a little laughter/need a little snappy happy-ever-after...

That's what I need right now, and I'm thinking with the news swirl and holidays upon us you do too. In truth, I didn't post last week because I couldn't think of anything Pollyanna-ish to say that didn't sound phoney-baloney

(For those of you unfamiliar with the term "Pollyanna", according to my old-standard go-to, Merriam-Webster (since 1828), A "Pollyanna" is someone "irrepressibly optimistic who tends to find the good in everything.") 

I first learned the term "Pollyanna" as the title of the Disney movie starring the embodiment of Pollyanna, Haley Mills (yes, I wanted to be her when I was little. And no, I was not her age when the movie came out--I saw it in reruns, too.) Longing for a feel good afternoon, treat yourself!  Here's the Pollyanna trailer.

(Note: "Phoney-Baloney" is nonsense, foolishness, deceptive talk; a phoney-baloney is one who spouts such bull! The terms usage dates back to 1936. Pollyanna is no phoney-baloney!)

But wait, there's more! Feeling a bit like Kathryn Hepburn in Desk Set, I did some digging beyond the movie and whooppeee! Music to my writer's ears, turns out the term, Pollyanna, like Hayley Mill's character, came from a book! 

Origin and Etymology of pollyanna
Pollyanna, heroine of the novel Pollyanna (1913) by Eleanor Porter †1920 American fiction writer

First Known Use: 1921
— https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pollyanna

BTW: Pollyanna, was published in 1913, when Eleanor H. Porter was 44. 

Pollyanna ranked eighth among best-selling novels in the United States during 1913, second during 1914, and fourth during 1915 (with 47 printings between 1915 and 1920).

Why would a "sappy" book about an orphan who always looking on the bright side have gained such popularity? Consider the times: World War One began July 28th, 1914...


Another Pollyanna-ish Orphan bounced onto the scene in 1924. Harold Gray's comic strip heroine, Little Orphan Annie.  What else was happening in 1924 U.S.? 

  • Johnny Weissmuller--Tarzan!--won three gold medals at the Paris Summer Olympics
  • First Round The World Flight completed in 175 days by a Chicago based US Army Air Service team
  • J. Edgar Hoover appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Prohibition (1920-1933)


This is the cover of my "Annie" book.

This is the cover of my "Annie" book.

Gray's Little Orphan Annie comic strip ran continuously through prohibition, the Depression, World War Two, the Korean Conflict, most of the Vietnam War and Cold War...even past Gray's death in 1968. (To be revived after Annie's Broadway debut in 1976.) 


FYI: Gray's Orphan Annie was an original. He didn't conjure her, he kidnapped the little orphan from an 1885 poem.  Here are the first few lines:

LITTLE Orphant Annie ’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups and saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done, 5
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ’at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ’at gits you
Ef you
Don’t 10
— http://www.bartleby.com/248/1141.html

What to read more? Little Orphant Annie by James Witcomb Riley

What with all these Pollyannas, you might be asking? Historically speaking, what these Pollyanna's show me can be summed up in one paraphrase. When the going gets tough, Writers get writing. What do readers want? What does every Pollyanna ooze? 

HEART! Miles and miles and miles of heart...

Or, to quote another Pollyanna, "Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down...." 

Cause if we need a little snappy, everyone else might me craving one, too.  

Need A Little Snappy Playlist:

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