Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This Week's Poetry Stretch - Zeno

I'm teaching Monday and Tuesday evenings this semester, and I'm a bit overwhelmed. It was on my run this morning that I realized I hadn't posted a stretch yet. My apologies for sharing this so far into the week. I've picked a short, challenging form for us.

The Zeno is a poetic form that was invented by J. Patrick Lewis. Here's Pat's explanation of the form.
I've invented what I had called a “hailstone," after the mathematical "hailstone sequence." It has nothing to do with Mary O'Neill's Hailstones and Halibut Bones, but it would no doubt instantly be confused with it. Hence, "hailstone" is problematic. So I call the form a "zeno," so named for Zeno, the philosopher of paradoxes, especially the dichotomy paradox, according to which getting anywhere involves first getting half way there and then again halfway there, and so on ad infinitum. I'm dividing each line in half of the previous one. Here's my description of a zeno:

A 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1.
The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd.
Here are two examples.
Sea Song
A song streaming a thousand miles
may sound like a
but it’s only
love’s bulk-
coming out of
the blue...
Why Wolves Howl
Gray wolves do not howl at the moon.
Across a vast
they oboe in
Fur-face, I am
all a-

Poems ©J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.
I hope you'll join me in writing a zeno this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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