Monday, May 09, 2016

Monday Poetry Stretch - Akshar-Mala

Akshar-Mala is an Indian poetic form in which the initial letters of each line are in alphabetical order. There are no other requirements for the form.

I found this form in The Dictionary of Indian Literature, One, Beginnnings-1850. I haven't been able to find any other descriptions of it, or any another Indian form that resembles it closely.

A while back we wrote in the form of iroha mojigusari, where the first letter of the alphabet starts off the first line and the second letter of the alphabet concludes it. The third letter starts the second line and the fourth letter finishes it. This continues until all the letters of the alphabet have been used in order.

Since there are no other guidelines here than order, I don't see why you can't begin with any letter of your choosing and make the poem as long as you like.

So, there's your challenge for the week. I hope you'll join me in writing an akshar-mala. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


    All I wanted
    Back in the day was for
    Cecilia not to get knocked
    Down too hard by life
    Every time she
    Flung herself with
    Gusto into adventures, making
    Hairpin turns
    Just about every
    Kind of activity she tried.
    Lunging down mountain slops;
    Narrowly escaping sharks
    Or diving down the ocean floor then
    Parasailing the high seas. My heart
    Quickened with every letter I
    Received from her. At
    Some point I
    Tried to
    Understand her
    Visions of
    wanderlust then realized she was
    Xeroxing her granddad’s life, who she
    Yearned to meet but never did, Cecilia was
    Zipping by life to fill the void of a loved one’s passing.

    (c) Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.

  2. Advice to a young woman with a freshly broken heart

    Accompany sorrow only long enough to
    break that hateful habit.
    Clear your mind.
    Date it on your calendar to
    escape the misery that has been
    forced upon you.

    Greet the morning as if it
    holds a place
    in line for you,
    just as that smiling stranger did befpre
    language class that day.
    Meet it on your terms. You

    need to set the boundaries because
    opportunity is knock-knock-knocking at your door.
    Power up your mind and
    quell those racing thoughts that say it’s time to
    run away and hide.
    Swagger may be the very thing you need. And

    time - without the hands to paint away the day, of course.
    Until your
    vision clears and once again you recognize the
    winsome woman smiling in the mirror, having
    x’d off all her days of mourning and is ready for a great big
    YES! Again. Sha…..

    ©2016 Judith Robinson all rights reserved.

  3. An Alphabet of Pain, of Joy

    Actually, life
    balances between the two,
    cantilevered, caught in mesh.
    Down can sometimes be up.
    Equal partners in the dance.
    Follow or lead,
    going or coming,
    half is attitude, the rest
    is luck
    Just wait a minute,
    kiss and make up,and
    Life will smile.
    Miss the moment and
    nothing will fill the void.
    Or reach out to touch,
    post a kind letter,
    query an editor,
    resist the cutting comment,
    step in-between anger and defeat.
    That will swing the balance.
    Unless you take the first step,you are life's
    Wishing without action
    eXorcises no ghosts.
    YOU are in charge here.
    Zoom ahead, not behind.

    ©2016 JaneYolen all rights reserved

  4. Wow, you guys are good!

    April Night

    April is a good way to
    begin. I
    can’t see starting with
    Everything is
    far away this morning.
    Good and bad,
    how do
    judge? How does anyone
    Last night was
    pages and pages of
    quiet. As if
    songs had
    tumbled apart,
    unraveled and
    Why look for
    xylophones and flutes?
    You are gone. So is my
    zeal, my zest, my everything.

    —Kate Coombs, 2016
    all rights reserved

  5. How is this form, if at all, different from an abecedarian?

    I borrowed the opening word from Jane Yolen's, and wrote this. My first time sharing here, be gentle. :)

    Actually, my voice
    believes in itself
    chanting to my heart
    forming a shield.
    Gladly, I
    I don't need to be louder.
    knowing my voice holds
    no one can teach this
    obbligato or
    rhythms or
    to climb.
    Uncertainty plagues
    while secretly
    x-ing out

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for stopping in! As far as I can tell from my research, an abcedarian required that you begin with the first letter of the alphabet and follow with each successive letter until the final letter is reached, so it must have 26 lines from A-Z. An akshar-mala does not require an A-Z treatment, only that lines begin with successive letters of the alphabet. So, an akshar-mala could begin with F and end with L.