Monday, February 4, 2013

Max Tell / Spoonerism

William Archibald Spooner

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia


This is Max Tell with my 7th instalment of writing exercises to give the poems you write for kids a unique personal flair and a bit of a bite. 

Note: A reference to 'poems' also includes songs. A reference to 'songs' refers only to songwriting.

Today's topic:


World English Dictionary
spoonerism  (ˈspuːnəˌrɪzəm)
— n
the transposition of the initial consonants or consonant clusters of a pair of words, often resulting in an amusing ambiguity of meaning, such as hush my brat for brush my hat
[C20: named after W. A. Spooner  (1844--1930), English clergyman renowned for slips of this kind]

Photo: courtesy of

Shel Silverstein
The King of Spoonerisms

Shel Silverstein's "Runny and the Sea Poup" is one of the finest examples of Spoonerisms.

Runny and the Sea Poup

Runny went to Snerry Jake's
To get some taisen roast
But all Jake had was sea poup
Which Runny mated host.

He cried, "I won't eat sea poup--
I simply cannot bear it."
Snerry said, "Since you won't eat it,
Maybe you can wear it."

'Pea Soup' turned into 'Sea Poup' is an absolute gem. But then there are the more subtle examples of spoonerisms. 'Snerry Jake' adds to the character of the snake while also giving him a name, and 'taisen roast' turns 'raisin toast' into something else to eat. Superb.

Here's another example of a poem using spoonerisms by none other than Max Tell. Oops how did my picture get in there?

Clummy Mimbed a Clountain
by Max Tell

Clummy mimbed a clountain
As tall as it could be.
Its clead was in the houds.
Its feet were in the sea.

It's snop was very gowy.
It's bottom end was green,
The mallest, mallest tountain
That Clummy'd ever seen.

For more examples of spoonerisms check out Shel Silverstein's web site or his book Runny Babbit a Billy Sook.

Now, it's your turn. Try your hand at writing a spoonerism or two. And share them, in comments below.

For more of Max's poems, check out The Land of Graws.
Max on Facebook


Shel Silverstein
Scansion: For Advanced Poets
Rhythm & Meter: Advanced Study
Essential Children's Collection

Next week's topic: 
Foot & Metre

What poetry question would you like answered? Point of View? Rhyme? Something of your choice? Student questions are also welcome. Your comments below would be greatly appreciated.

Bye for now and see you soon.

Have a great writing day.

Love writing, love editing more.

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