How To Write A Bop


I just discovered the Bop. I love the name. It’s almost as good as the Azby!

The bop is not as old or as popular as the other poetic forms that I have explored on this blog but it is certainly just as interesting. It was created by Afaa Michael Weaver – a man who seems to have come a long way.

So what do you need to know about the Bop?

1)      Length: The bop is 23 lines long. There are three stanzas with a refrain after each of them.

The first stanza has six lines, the second stanza has eight lines and the third stanza has six lines.

2)      Rhyme: The good news – you don’t have to worry about rhyming

3)      Narrative: The first stanza presents a problem; the second stanza explores or expatiates on the problem and the third stanza reaches some resolution or acknowledges the lack of resolution.



Afaa Michael Weaver, 1951

in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary

In general population, census

is consensus—ain’t nowhere to run

to in these walls, walls like a mind—

We visitors stand in a yellow circle

so the tower can frisk us with light,

finger the barrels on thirsty rifles.

I got rambling, rambling on my mind

In general population, madness runs

swift through the river changing, changing

in hearts, men tacked in their chairs,

resigned to hope we weave into air,

talking this and talking that and one brutha

asks Tell us how to get these things

They got, these houses, these cars.

We want the real revolution. Things…

I got rambling, got rambling on my mind

In the yellow circle the night stops

like a boy shot running from a Ruger 9mm

carrying .44 magnum shells, a sista

crying in the glass booth to love’s law,

to violence of backs bent over to the raw

libido of men, cracking, cracking, crack…

I got rambling, rambling on my mind


The bop is a pretty laid back form and it felt a bit like I was writing free verse (poetry that doesn’t conform to strict rules of form). The bop guidelines feel like they simply help to guide your process.

If you decide to try the bop for the first time, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1)      You should start by selecting the refrain. This line will appear thrice in your poem. It should encapsulate what the poem is about, it should link the stanzas together. However, you could choose a line that does the exact opposite – adding a different layer to your poem.

2)      Plot your poem – figure put what the question is going to be. You can also decide beforehand what the conclusion will be, or you can see where the poem takes you.

3)      Make two attempts, in your first attempt at the bop, simply let each line end at the end of the line, rather than letting them run on the way the two poems included in this post do. In your second attempt create your poem allowing it to run on to a different line. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the difference in style and the first attempt forces you to make a shorter, tidier and perhaps easier poem.


My Parents Want To Meet You

Oyinkan Braithwaite



I tiptoe around the walls that we have created between us. Sidestepping

words like marriage and forever. Afraid to admit that I sometimes dream

of a happily ever after.  Afraid to let go and love you. So how do I even begin

to point out the issues that we face, when I am just a girlfriend? A girl

it took you a lifetime to claim as your own.

So this may seem a bit sudden but


my parents want to meet you.


Sudden if four years is sudden…

You sure don’t make it easy. Do you see how I pretend not to care?

How I pretend I don’t notice when you’re not there. And you shrink

from the passion; to you, love is this thing that causes unnecessary

complications. You section it away. You miss me. You lose me. You love me.

You wonder why I am so difficult to handle. You throw me away.

No one told you how much effort, how much conscious effort would go

into keeping the woman who would keep you and darling


My parents want to meet you.


And we could go on doing this dance without end, I know

that’s how you would prefer it to be. And if I were to speak

it’d just look like it was marriage that I seek.

It would look as though I hurried you to a goal you were not quite sure of.

But honey it’s really quite simple,

not physics, but the law of life.


My parents want to meet you.

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite


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