Friday, March 20, 2015

Poetry Friday - Two For the Madness

For those of you not following Ed DeCaria's March Madness Poetry, you've missed some terrific poems by a number of Poetry Friday regulars. Today I'm sharing some thoughts on my process and the two poems I wrote before bowing out (rather ungracefully). 

If you don't know the particulars, each participant is given a word that must be used in a poem. In the early rounds, poems must be 8 lines or less. A participant's "seed" number indicates the difficulty of their words. I was a number 12 seed.

Round 1 - incalculable 
Given the "big" words in this one, I like to call it my SAT prep poem. If I'd had my wits about me when I wrote it, I would have dipped into the Princess Bride well and used the word inconceivable instead of unfathomable. I also wanted "life without chocolate," but darn chocolaty goodness had too many syllables! 

Mysteries of the Universe

We ask question upon question, curiosity untamed
Find answers steeped in numbers, though some cannot be named
     Digits of Pi? - Innumerable
     Number of stars? - Incalculable
     Distance to you? - Immeasurable
     Life without love? - Unfathomable
Indeterminate mathematics, from matters most humane

Round 2 - machinations
When I got the word machinations, I immediately thought of fairy tales. I began writing about the evil queen in Snow White. Here are the lines I wrote and then tossed.

Her royal highness sat in jail
facing trumped up allegations
Poisoned apple, girl gone pale
what could be her motivation?

When I couldn't make this work I decided to try writing an ottava rima. Ottava rima is an Italian form that consists of an eight line stanza with the rhyme scheme abababcc. In English these lines are usually written in iambic pentameter. Once I chose a form, I changed my focus to the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel. I wanted to give her a name, but that presented a problem. In some forms of the tale she is called the Gingerbread witch, but in others she is unnamed. In the German opera she's named Rosina. Neither of these names worked with the rhyme and meter of the poem, so I randomly chose Helga.

Before Hansel and Gretel

With skill and care she built a house to eat
deftly made with saccharine temptations
Deep in the woods where people rarely meet
the townsfolk questioned Helga’s motivations
Why build a home far from the county seat?
Unless your heart hides evil machinations
But Helga built a house with kid appeal  
the perfect trap for catching every meal

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

I'm pretty happy with my efforts given the time constraints and imposed words. Regardless of the outcome, it was fun and I enjoyed the challenge.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Catherine of Reading to the Core. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. Always interesting to read how people come up with ideas from these challenging words--thanks for sharing this, Tricia. And I like the idea of a poem about Snow White's evil queen!

  2. I think you should be VERY happy with your efforts, Tricia! It's tough, this pitting one poet against another. I'm always in two minds about it, given that, as poets, we tend to take things personally. You came up with two terrific poems that you probably would not have otherwise – that, by itself, is a win.

    Might I suggest, if you decide to do March Madness again, put the name of the form in parentheses after your title: Before Hansel and Gretel (an ottava rima). Sometimes voters appreciate being informed of such things.

  3. I love both these, Tricia! I find it hard to believe that you didn't have your wits about you when you wrote "Mysteries of the Universe." Like Buffy, I appreciated reading about how you crafted "Before Hansel and Gretel."

  4. I enjoy hearing about your process, Tricia, read your poems on the MM poetry site, loved them both. Fairy tale "machinations" are always fun to read, to see how others interpret the particular story. Great work.

  5. I love them both! Helga is a perfect witch name!

  6. I loved reading your process, your poems and the name you chose for the villain. Just coming up with different poetic forms on the spot that aren't traditional, and making them work. You rock Trisha!

  7. Oh Tricia - beautiful post you have here! Round One is my absolute favourite. :)