August Writing Challenge 11: Scoop! Poem

11-Leo-Reynolds-2photo by Leo Reynolds

We are challenging you to write your own mini anthology of poems this August! To help you, every two days poet Jon Stone will set a new challenge on the Young Poets Network site to spark off a new poem.

Challenge 11. Scoop! Poem

Construct a poem entirely out of your own invented newspaper headlines and straplines. Optional: write it as a ‘day in the life’ or biography of a real or imaginary person.

Jon’s example of a scoop! poem:

Young prince saw father butchered from nearby tree
Nezahualcoyotl, ‘Fasting Coyote’, wept but did not cry out

Ixtlilxochitl son is ‘bookish, shy and unambitious’
Former aide to slain tlatoani dismisses talk of revenge

‘Fasting Coyote’ goes to ground … again!
‘Emo’ son of Ixtlilxochitl fears plot against his life

100,000-strong coalition army marches on Azcapotzalco
Rebel Tepanecs join Fasting Coyote and Obsidian Serpent

Fasting Coyote is new Tlatoani of Texcoco
Twice exiled ‘poet prince’ crowned after victorious campaign

New king is art lover
He plans council of tlamatini, grants for artists and musicians

Coyote advisor: king a ‘cleanliness fanatic.’
“He worships Temazcalteci more than Quetzacoatl!”

Nezahualcoyotl plans ‘temple to no one’
King Coyote’s folly will be ‘strictly no sacrifices’ affair

In chololiztli: his final flight
Fasting Coyote dies surrounded by 100 concubines

Submitting your poem

Jon has now chosen his favourite responses to the Scoop! challenge, but you can still use his workshop to spark a new poem and send to one of the opportunities on our Poetry Opportunities Page! Have a read of these Scoop! poems for inspiration:

Modern Classics by Josh Keeling

Weather Forecasts by Lisa Santika Onggrid



Jon Stone

Jon Stone was born in Derby and currently lives in Whitechapel, London. He is co-creator of the multi-format arts journal Fuselit and micro-anthology publishers Sidekick Books. He won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award in 2012 and his collection, School of Forgery (Salt, 2012) is a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation. He works as a court transcript editor.

Published August, 2012

4 thoughts on “August Writing Challenge 11: Scoop! Poem

    1. Hi Angelique,
      In each couplet, the line in italics is the imaginary headline, and the line below it is the strapline – the punchy sub-headline that is designed to explain the headline a bit further and entice the reader into reading the full article.
      Headlines and straplines will often contain quotations from the article itself, and will signal this by putting the words in inverted commas. So for example, in Jon’s imaginary articles, it looks like someone has described the Ixtlilxochitl son as ‘bookish, shy and unambitious’ and an ‘Emo’, and the Coyote advisor has described the king as a ‘cleanliness fanatic’!
      Once you’ve established your characters and stories for the headlines and straplines, invent some things they have said and some quotations about them from friends/family/rivals/associates etc, and try incorporating parts of these.
      Happy writing!

    1. Hi, let us know what you’re having difficulty with and we’ll try to help.

      When you look at Jon’s example the italicized lines are written like newspaper headlines and the lines in italics are written like strap lines. Strap lines are the sub-headings, the straplines usually pick out an eye catching detail from the story to draw the reader in, or explain the story if the headline is particularly cryptic. Often when you look at newspaper articles online the headlines and straplines are changed to phrases which are more likely to appear in search engine results, so it’s best to get your hands on a physical newspaper to see the full joy of newspaper headlines and straplines.

      Jon’s poem tells the story of Nezahualcoyotl using the headline and strapline technique. If you find the example confusing you might find it easier to understand if you have a quick read of Nezahualcoyotl’s life on Wiki, so you can then see how Jon has taken elements of Nezahualcoyotl’s life and turned them into the poem:

      Jon then suggests choosing your own real or imagined character (in the same way that he chose Nezahualcoyotl) in order to create your own poem.

      I hope this helps, if you have a specific question we’ll do our best to answer.

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