In preparation for April, National Poetry Month, I ran across an article at Poet's.org that gave 30 things to do for the month of April. I modified the list and whittled it down to 15 ideas. Although if you click on the link you can see all 30.
15 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month
Sign up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.
Memorize a poem.
Create an anthology of your favorite poems and post one a day under A Poem I Read Today with a short commentary from you. We already have a nice collection here. I'd love to see more of what you all read.
Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore. Let's financially support poets we love to read.
Learn more about poets and poetry events in your state or province.
Attend a poetry reading at a local university, bookstore, cafe, or library. I've never done this, it always seemed highbrow but I think I will seek one out.
Read a poem at an open mic. It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local poetry writing community. I've never done this either and I don't intend to start now.. But for someone out there . . .
Start a poetry reading group. Or join the members of this group in reading and sharing published poems we've read.
Write an exquisite corpse poem with friends.
Chalk a poem on the sidewalk. I have some sidewalk chalk I think I'll do this with maybe a haiku.
Deepen your daily experience by reading Edward Hirsch’s essay “How to Read a Poem.”
Read about different poetic forms right here at PMO.
Subscribe to American Poets magazine or a small press poetry journal.
Read Allen Ginsberg’s classic essay about Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
Join me in writing a poem each day of April and post it here at PMO.
IT is number 15 that I have already committed to do. It would be fun to see other's join me. I did it once before a few years ago and I actually produced a couple of decent poems from the exercise. So schedule your time to fit in a few minutes of writing each day and join me in celebrating National Poetry Month with a new poem everyday. I was thinking how could I do this without clogging up the page of new poems. I've decided to keep the poems all in one thread, adding a new poem each day as a reply. The thread won't be broken if someone chooses to add a reply to my thread. I would welcome comments. So get ready, April is only 8 days away. ~~Tink
The more poetry I write, the more I realize that the craft of writing is the same for poetry as it is writing an essay, an article, a short story or a novel. The same tools are available. However, each has its unique personality. I was recently asked to review an essay, a genre of writing I know little about. College kids write them all of the time, well I was in college 59 years ago and I don't remember ever writing an essay. So I went googling.
An essay "is a written argument, readable in one sitting in which some idea is developed and supported." Gordon Harvey, Assistant Director, Harvard Exploratory Writing Program.
OK so here are the primary elements of the Essay:
it is written
it is an argument, The idea should be true but arguable, not obviously true.
it is readable in one sitting
an idea is developed. The idea must be limited enough that it can be argued and supported in a short composition.
the idea is supported through exploration and documentation
the essay begins with the motivation behind the idea, the why are we writing.
exploring the topic or idea requires us to contemplate the alternatives to our view.
the purpose of the essay is to convince, using honed writing skills as well as evidence. The evidence must be concrete and explicitly connected to the topic.
the progress of the essay should be fluid and connected.
there should be a final summary.
Clearly this is a different animal from writing poetry but we might find ourselves compelled to write an essay someday and now we have a guide.
If the word is the cornerstone of poetry, the line is it's foundation. The line is the fundamental element of verse, the difference between verse and prose. Its purpose is to increase the density of the thought or image and give focus to the words. The line is written in many styles, patterns and meters.
I recently discovered this article by Dana Gioia on the poetic line which prompted this blog. After reading it I realized I cannot improve on it. It says it all, I encourage you to read it. The Poetic Line . Dana Gioia is Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, an award winning poet and is currently the Poet Laureate of California.
As a side note, indentation of the line and/or centering the poem on the page is at the poet's discretion. Indenting a line midway or at the end of a stanza can give emphasis to the line. Sometimes centering a poem can enhance the content by the visual positioning. However in my opinion, all too often centering a poem is used as a gimmick to distract from the lack of substance. It should compliment the content otherwise keep lines at left margin.
For further information about some of the more common poetic lines you can also go to The Frame.
In the Trenches
Thoughts quickly scribbled
on the back of an envelope,
a barrage of tenets
attack the plain.
An attempt to capture
a simple construct,
fall victim to the slashing pen,
silent chatter discarded,
bound characters boldly
replace the fallen symbols
to shape ideas into verse.
A battleground, blotched
and torn, valued
as much for what is lost,
as for what is gained. -----------Judi Van Gorder
I have an extensive library on reading and writing poetry plus a whole lot of poetry books filled with amazing works of great poets. So much advise and example to help me write. So why do I have dry spells? Why can't I produce poetry on a regular basis.
Read, read, read! The authors say. Yes the more I read good poetry, the more I want to emulate it. The advise to READ good poetry is a great starting and continuing point for all aspiring writers. I'm not kidding myself, I'm not a Robert Frost or a Maya Angelou. But I can be me, with my experiences and my perspectives with my mind and heart. What I learn from reading is how to communicate those experiences etc. to hopefully transport other readers into my world for a moment.
A couple of books suggest we set aside a time and place to write each day. I've taken this advise and practiced it for periods of time and then life seems to always get in the way. But this works for many writers and if it works for you keep on keeping on. If you haven't tried it, it is a great idea and you should give it a shot. What's the worst that could happen? You have time set aside for your own thoughts. And the best case scenario, you might end up writing a masterpiece. Go for it.
I recently read a blog in which the blogger said she was going through a dry spell when she and a friend made an agreement to daily challenge each other with a different verse form and theme. She said the vast majority of her work was in free verse but taking up the challenge to write in restrictive form helped her focus her thoughts. She was forced to pay closer attention to word choice and other writing details and got her writing back on track on a more regular basis. I've experienced something similar by accepting a weekly forms challenge at Writing.com. I'm not sending anyone over to another poetry forum although I am pretty sure most of us already belong to more than one poetry community. Anyway I am writing again because of the challenges, most of it not great poetry but there are a couple I've written recently that I feel good about.
Of course right here in the reference section we have hundreds and hundreds of forms and genres explained and broken down by the elements. We can use this source for inspiration. The challenges at Writing.com often link to this site for the "how to" of the forms challenges. I'm a little embarrassed when I haven't already written an example poem for the challenge form. But the challenge not only prompts me to write in response, it also has brought me back to the reference section and to write more example poems as well as find and research more forms to add to our collection. I am certainly open to including someone else's poems as example of the various forms. I'd love your help to provide good sample poems to demonstrate the forms I've documented. Some of them are silly attempts to create a poetic structure. And I suspect some were just the result of someone writing a poem, then looking at the structure and giving the frame a name. But most classic verse forms are frames that delivered successful poems and others tried to emulate the success of the original poem by using the same frame. That's how a standard verse form happens. By the way, Free Verse is a verse form.
I think it is a given, you and I love poetry, that's why we are here. We also love to write so we need to keep READING and WRITING and WRITING some more. After all, not every poem that Dylan Thomas wrote was a master piece but he did not "go gentle into that good night". He left behind at least one piece that just about anyone who is an English speaker has heard and can recite a line or two from. So I will be looking to read your O Captain, My Captain or your Annabelle Lee and I'll read all of the rest of your attempts in the meantime.
I write to stretch myself
to be more of me
I write because I like words
I write because I don't have a horse
to ride anymore.
I write to surprise myself..
I write to leave a piece of myself
for my grandchildren.
I write because I can.
~~Judi Van Gorder
Whatever works for you, find a way to keep writing.
~~Tink aka Judi Van Gorder
Many poets today believe rhyme is old fashioned, artificial or strained. Rhyme has a long history in verse which dates back to before the written word. Stories of love, war, gods and heroes were told through oral traditions and often rhyme was used to assist memory in order that the tale could be passed on. Since the written word language has evolved and rhyme has become more sophisticated than just a tool for communication, it has become an art form. Still in much of today's poetry, rhyme has been dismissed or relegated to light verse. However, the modern day rapper shows us that rhyme with the right rhythm, can be timely, dynamic and powerful.
Rhyme is "the one chord we have added to the Greek lyre." Oscar Wilde It is all about sonics. There are many variations of "rhyme", which basically is the echo of sound, a melodic link between words most often at the end of the line. The ancient Welsh in their strict code of meters, taught that to prevent the "main" rhyme from overpowering the line, it should be balanced by "harmony of sound", and encouraged the use of alliteration, consonance, assonance, internal rhyme and more, all forms of rhyme
A poem doesn't have to be end rhymed but I listen for "harmony of sound" in every poem I read.
(Commonly used in Celtic verse forms.) According to the NPEOPP aicill rhyme is simply rhyming an end word of one line with a word somewhere early in the next line. Robin Skelton's Shapes of our Singing takes it a step further and states aicill rhyme occurs when the end word of the first line is disyllabic. An on-line source describing Gaelic pronunciation takes it even a step further describing aicill rhyme as occuring when the last stressed syllable of an end word rhymes with the next to last unstressed word in the next line with no mention that the end word need by disyllabic. (Gaelic examples I've been able to find seem to support all 3 definitions, of course I can't really hear the stressed/unstressed definition but one example appeared as if the internal rhyme could be unstressed by the position in the line and the words around it.)
(from Latin al litera- to letter) The echoed beginning sound of a stressed syllable with the beginning sound of another stressed syllable in close proximity within the line. Strictly used, it should be the stressed syllable of successive words in a line, most commonly repeated consonants that phonetically match e.g. Little ladies like lovely Lillys or Center for Secret Sisters. However beginning vowel sounds most always alliterate e.g The ant eater entered the exit.
Rhyme pattern within a stanza, end rhyme change every other line. abab cdcd etc or ababab cdcdcd etc or abababab cdcdcdcd etc .
(Greek- cutting off). Rhyme that cuts off the last syllable or sound. Only part of the word rhymes, come/summer ; timely/rhyme. Or rhyming the penultimate syllables.
amphisbaenic or backward, rhyme
Rhyme in reverse. later/retail ; stop/pots.
A rhetorical device in which vowel sounds are repeated regardless of the consonants before and after. In English this is usually within a line but in other cultures, Welsh and Spanish in particular this can be between internal or end words of different lines.
Breaking an end word to create rhyme with another line. eg. Breaking the word heartbreak carrying the "break" to the next line so that heart can rhyme with part.
Couplet rhymed at the caesura mid line and alternating at the end of the line as if an alternate rhymed quatrain abab is written as a couplet.
Same as tail rhyme, the short line at the end of the stanza rhymes with another short line within the stanza, with longer lines in between.
Rhyme pattern within a stanza, interlocking rhyme that links one stanza to the next. Such as in the Terza Rima rhyme aba bcb cdc etc. There are various chain techniques with a long history
climbing or step rhyme
rhyme that moves in or out one syllable per line, the pattern is at the discretion of the poet
x x x a
x x a x
x a x x
a x x x
x a x x
x x a x
consonance, imperfect rhyme / near rhyme, oblique rhyme / off rhyme / slant rhyme
Echoed consonant sounds but different vowel sounds as in season and raisin or sometimes only the last consonant sound such as fame and room. This is a simplified meaning, definitions of consonance or slant rhyme seem to wander all over the place. For a more complicated definition see "consonate". also slant rhyme. "He whispered into the dark, dank heart of the night" The prominent and repeated "d" "t" and "k" sounds are consonance.
Same consonant sound at either the beginning of the lines (head rhyme) or the last consonant at the end of the line (common in Celtic and Spanish verse).
When the end word rhymes with a word in the middle of the next line. This comes from the old long hemistiched couplets in which rhyme occurs (ab)(ba): L1 xxxa,xxxb L2 xxxb,xxxa. NPEOPP.
When both syllables of a 2 syllable word rhyme with both syllables of another 2 syllable word. e.g. dapper / rapper
Beginning and ending the poem with the same syllable, word or line bringing the poem full circle. (A defining feature of ancient Celtic poetry.)
Rhyme pattern within a stanza, rhyme enclosed within a stanza. e.g. abba or abccba or abcddcba.
exact / full / identical ordinary / perfect/ strict / true rhyme
The echo of vowel and consonant sounds, in English rhyme occurs between stressed syllables. bait / wait, begin / sin, syllable / laughable
eye or sight rhyme
Rhyme that has the same spelling but sound differently. e.g. laughter / daughter idea/flea
A rhyme of 2 or more syllables in which the stress is on other than the last syllable such as
moral / quarrel or healthiest / wealthiest
framed rhyme or para-rhyme
Consonance occurring front and back of the word. back/bike boat/bait
Feminine or three-syllable words in which the initial stressed syllables rhyme but not the unstressed syllables e.g. clingy / singing
When rhyme appears at the beginning of the line in the first word or syllable rather than at the end of the line.
head and tail rhyme
First and last, usually referring to the first and last word in a line are rhymed.
identity rhyme / rime riche / rich rhyme
Ordinary rhyme beginning a step backward. The sounds start being matched before the last stressed vowel. All 3 sounds of the syllable are echoed in rich rhyme, as in foul/fowl as compared to ordinary rhyme growl/fowl. Rich rhyme, often called rime riche or identity rhyme is more commonly used in French prosody than in English.
A word in the middle of one line rhymes with a word in the middle of another.
A word within a line rhymes with another word within the line whether or not it is at the end of the line.
A line written with 2 syllable rhyme midway and at the end of the line. Originally employed to rhyme at a midway caesura and line end, found in ancient Latin writing. "They took some honey and plenty of money."---- Edward Lear, Owl and the Pussycat.
The rhyming of a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable, like some / ransom
linked or run-over rhyme>
end word of one line rhyming with the first word of the next line in a chain like effect. Also a rhyme from one stanza being carried over into next stanza such as aba bcb cdc etc
Rhyme in a 1 syllable word or on the accented last syllable of a multi syllable word.
Rhyme pattern, single rhyme within a verse or stanza. aaaaaaa or stanza aaaa bbbb cccc etc.
Rhymed verse meant for children.
Echoed sounds of the first consonant and stressed vowel but not the last consonant. bat / back
Internal rhyme within the line. e.g.:she'd be his wife, his life in song.
End words that have similar spelling but don't rhyme. move/love .
In a stanza of long lines, the last line is shorter and is rhymed with one other line within the stanza which is also shorter.
words that rhyme in 3 syllables eg mystery / history .
Mono-rhymed lines until the rhyme runs out of energy then the lines switch to a new mono-rhymed series.
Judging by the number of hits the articles in the "Sonnet" section receives, the Sonnet and it's many shapes and sizes wins hands down as the most popular verse form in the Reference Forum. Ranging from the purists to the new age anything goes poets and most of us in between, if I make one point about the Sonnet it is: the Sonnet is a lyrical meditation. It should sing to its reader. Meter, rhyme, pivot, even length, all are secondary to the fluid melody that should ring in your reader's ears.
So we begin with the basics. This blog was set up to highlight some of the articles in the Reference Forum because many of the guests as well as the silent members come to this site to access the information in that forum. I am hoping that I might hear some of the poems that are being written by silent members and guests alike. You are all welcome to post poems or comments in the blog's reply thread.
The Sonnet, Italian sonnetto or Occitan sonet both meaning "little song" or "little sound" is a lyrical meditation. It is a verse form of which some variation can be found in almost all Western cultures and even a few Asian cultures. It often offers a conflict or question, and then works on a solution or answer, all within fourteen lines. (Well sometimes more, sometimes less, but these are exceptions to the rules.) There are two dominant sonnet forms, the Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet and the English or Shakespearean Sonnet. The other sonnet forms seem to be either variations of these or less known predecessors. There are even forms that call themselves sonnets but might not be true sonnets, usually because they try to tell a story or they lack a turn or pivot or an appropriate number of lines. But if it sings . . . .
The origin of the sonnet is said to have some uncertainty, though many believe it was born in the south of France or northern Italy created by the troubadours who sang for the courts. The earliest "true" sonnet is credited to Giacomo da Lentini of the Sicilian court of Frederick II (1197-1250). You can read a translation here at Sicilian Sonnet.
Sonnet 43 from Songs of the Portugese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
All sonnets should include these elements:
a lyrical meditation. The sonnet should sing.
usually composed with themes of love, spirituality, nature, sorrow or celebration.
a quatorzain , (a poem in 14 lines).
metric. In English, the sonnet is primarily written in iambic pentameter.
rhymed. The rhyme scheme is one of the features that identify the individual sonnets. (The Unrhymed and Blank sonnets by name deliberately lack rhyme which technically would be a nonce unrhymed scheme.) See the Sonnet Comparison Chart.
written with question-answer or conflict-resolution structure.
composed with a turn or change in tone. It is the positioning of this pivot or volta that is also a defining feature of sonnet.
"There are two men inside the artist,
the poet and the craftsman.
One is born a poet.
One becomes a craftsman. . ." ~ ~ Emile Zola to Cézanne, 16 April, 1860
Poetry stirs the emotions as much by the manner of delivery as the message. The message comes from a poet's experiences, observations, imagination and most importantly, the poet's soul. The manner of delivery or craft comes from a poet's intellect and training. It is magic when soul and intellect work in harmony to touch the reader. Anyone can write a poem, the poet aspires to create the magic beyond the poem, something we call poetry.
We write about what we know, feel, imagine or dream, we either have it or we don't. It is how we write that we can study, develop and fine tune. “All the fun is how you say a thing.” Robert Frost.
I am a student of poetry, not an authority. I began recording the results of my study to help improve my own writing. I've researched the history and evolution of verse to better understand the craft by gathering a good cross section of resources. Several books as well as the internet were used in this quest and I try to use at least three concurring views to confirm my findings. Of course, what we read in a book or on the internet is not always accurate or complete. Often part of a puzzle is found in one source and a second or third part in another. With that in mind, I believe all of the sources used begin with a passion for poetry.
Within this study poetic movements, technique, genre, stanza form, verse form, meter, grammatical and rhetorical devices are separated, categorized and identified as succinctly as possible. To avoid blurring of the lines, I attempt to use precise and sometimes technical language for which a glossary is also provided. Poetry is all about stepping beyond the expected, but a good writer should know the rules before breaking them. In poetry the rules of good writing become tools to be bent, remolded and recreated.
Unfortunately, I am limited to resources written in the English language and a little Spanish but I sometimes use examples in other languages. I may not know what the words say but I can count syllables and I can hear rhyme.
I love it when a poet attempts to write using an ancient frame. It is not only a challenge to the poet's skills but it also connects the reader in a small way to the roots and evolution of language and literature. Variation of established structures happens all of the time even by the masters and stepping outside of the confines of rigid form is common place. Other than when I am specifically writing a poem as an example of a particular structure I believe the content always comes first, the structure second. But when a traditional frame can enrich the content it is a thing of beauty.
Example poems are either provided with the permission of the poet, found in the public domain or were written by me. The material found in the public domain and included within the content of this research is done so on a non-profit basis for educational and discussion purposes only. I believe this qualifies as 'fair use' of copyrighted material as provided for in 17 USC § 107. I sometimes include a stanza from a longer poem in order to demonstrate the frame, particularly if I was unable to contact and secure permission from the poet. Regardless, the author and source is always identified. Also, direct quotes from other sources are credited. If you want to copy my work, you are welcome but please extend me the courtesy of acknowledging where you obtained the information.
Here is a place to start: Alpha Index ~~Tink AKA Judi Van Gorder