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The Bop


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American Verse

The Bop Is an invented form that I just came across in an old unread eMail at Writing.com  which also turned me on to a new eBook, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry.  I've added it to my bibliography with more new forms to come.. 

The word "Bop" immediately took me back to Junior High, mid 50s, sock hops in the gym on Fridays after school. Shoes lined up against the bleachers and we would Bop our tails off. 

It turns out that the poetic form has little to do with music but was inspired by a term from the Baltimore Maryland community of the same era referring to the manner in which a man walked down the street. "It was his signature to the world."  Afaa Michael Weaver,  African American author, teacher and poet. (My imagination conjures a swagger with a strut and a hitch.)  Weaver created the form during a 1997 summer retreat of an African American poetry organization, Cave Canem, as a poetry exercise for his students.   “ a poetic form the bop may be seen as the way a poet presents himself or herself to the world as a performance” (Weaver, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry). 

It is an argumentative form, meant for the poet to work through a problem to a solution.  It is  written in three stanzas similar to the sonnet.  The first stanza presents a question or problem, the second expands on the problem or question and the third offers a solution or answer.  In between each stanza and ending the poem there is a single line refrain that carries the theme.  This line can be from a piece of music or can be created by the poet.  (when using a line from a piece of music, the composer should be recognized in a footnote and if the music is not in the public domain copyright laws need to be considered).

The elements of the Bop are:
  1. a poem in 22 lines, made up of a sixain, a septet and a sixain, separated by a repeating single line refrain and ending in the same refrain.  (Weaver, writes the 2nd stanza is 7 lines, a septet, but provides an example poem with the middle stanza 8 lines, an octave and makes it a 23 line poem. I think there is a lot of wiggle room for the discretionary poet to play with. Remember the content not the frame always comes first.)
  2. meter and/or rhyme at the discretion of the poet. (Weaver also refers to this form as Free Verse which would infer no consistent pattern of meter or rhyme. However, the design of three stanzas with a single line refrain following each stanza does not exactly adhere to the "freedom" of Free Verse and in my opinion opens the door for meter and/or rhyme at the poet's discretion.)
  3. composed with each stanza having a purpose:
    *   S1 poses a question or problem
    *   S2 expands on problem or question
    *   S3 provides and answer or a solution
    *   composed with the theme carried in a single line refrain separating each stanza and ending the poem.
    *   a variation of the Bop includes a 4th stanza, in that instance S2 and S3 expand on problem S4 answers or solves problem



~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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I Love Rock and Roll

I like my poems short and neat
reading or writing I prefer to be brief.
Some go on and on without relief
meter goes long, nod off to the beat.
Gilgamesh, the Illiad, Canterbury Tales,
to read them in full you'll hear my wails.

"put another dime in the juke box baby"

"condense, condense, condense"
aren't those the words of Whitman,
so what's up with Leaves of Grass?
That goes on forever,  . . . Amen. 
But if I could write like that . . .
I'd fill the page with dynamite 
and stop rhyming rat-a-tat-tat.

"put another dime in the juke box baby"

In writing this lyric, I've broken my rule,
my words keep rambling on and on.
Hope you're awake to the end of my song
But to my seeking brain I add a new tool.
And though the haiku I will not abort,
I vow to be open to both long and short.

"put another dime in the juke box baby" *
                         ~~~ Judi Van Gorder

*Joan Jett's I love Rock and Roll

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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