Monday, July 06, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Cinquain

My apologies to my fellow writers who have come around looking for stretches. I just spent two amazing weeks with a group of teachers and thought of little beyond math, math, and more math.

Poetry relies on a great deal of math, from rhyme scheme (patterns) to counting syllables to forms that are based on mathematical sequences (Fibonacci numbers). Today I've selected a form that generally relies on syllable counting.

***** defines the cinquain in this fashion.
The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Examples of cinquains can be found in many European languages, and the origin of the form dates back to medieval French poetry. 
The most common cinquains in English follow a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab or abccb. 
I'll admit that the first part of this definition was unfamiliar to me. It was only this second part that I recognized.
Adelaide Crapsey, an early twentieth-century poet, used a form of 22 syllables distributed among the five lines in a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 pattern, respectively. Her poems share a similarity with the Japanese tanka, another five-line form, in their focus on imagery and the natural world.
This is the form that is taught in schools alongside haiku and diamante, though I'm not fond of the didactic approach generally taken, which consists of listing words related to a topic (adjectives, action verbs, etc.) .

If you are looking for some guidance, Kenn Nesbitt has a nice page on how to write a cinquain.

For a bit of inspiration, here's one of my favorite poems by Adelaide Crapsey.

Niagara, Seen on a Night in November

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a cinquain (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday - Monotone

I've been reading Sandburg the last few weeks, so today I'm sharing a poem I can't seem to get out of my mind.

by Carl Sandburg

The monotone of the rain is beautiful,
And the sudden rise and slow relapse
Of the long multitudinous rain.

The sun on the hills is beautiful,
Or a captured sunset sea-flung,
Bannered with fire and gold.

A face I know is beautiful—
With fire and gold of sky and sea,
And the peace of long warm rain.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Carol at Carol's Corner. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rondel

The rondel is a French verse form. It consists of 13 lines in 3 stanzas and contains two refrains (repeated lines). The rhyme scheme is below. The uppercase letters represent the refrains.

A B b a
a b A B
a b b a A

Rondels are usually written in lines of 8 syllables.

The Poetry Foundation defines it a bit differently. Here is their definition.

Rondel (roundel)
A poetic form of 11 to 14 lines consisting of two rhymes and the repetition of the first two lines in the middle of the poem and at its end. Algernon Charles Swinburne’s poem entitled The Roundel is 11 lines in two stanzas.

Whichever form you use, I hope you will join me this week in writing a rondel. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday - The Broad Bean Sermon

Today I'm thinking of gardens and summer and sharing a poem I came across while reading The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. This poem was in the chapter on the pastoral and I can't seem to get it out of my mind. That's always a good indication that I've come across a poem I need to share.

The Broad Bean Sermon
by Les Murray

Beanstalks, in any breeze, are a slack church parade
without belief, saying trespass against us in unison,
recruits in mint Air Force dacron, with unbuttoned leaves.

Upright with water like men, square in stem-section
they grow to great lengths, drink rain, keel over all ways,
kink down and grow up afresh, with proffered new greenstuff.

Above the cat-and-mouse floor of a thin bean forest
snails hang rapt in their food, ants hurry through Escher's three worlds,
spiders tense and sag like little black flags in their cordage.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup.. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, June 08, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Sapphic Stanza

The Sapphic stanza is composed of 4 lines, the first three lines consisting of 11 syllables, the last line of 5 syllables. The long lines are called hendecasyllabics, while the short line is called adonic. In their writing, the Greeks focused on long and short vowel sounds, today we focus on meter. Here is what the lines look like.

1 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
2 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
3 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
4 - one dactyl, one trochee

What does this mean? 

A trochee has two beats in the pattern stressed/unstressed, such as in words like happy, double, and planet. It is noted as / u.

A dactyl has three beats in the pattern stressed/unstressed/unstressed, such as in words like carefully, tenderly, and buffalo. It is note as / u u.

So using this notation, here's what a Sapphic stanza looks like metrically.

1 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
2 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
3 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
4 - / u u / u 

Originally, these stanzas were not rhymed, but in the Middle Ages they sometimes acquired the rhyme scheme abab. 

Phew! That's a lot to remember. For more information, Poetry Magnum Opus has a terrific overview of the form and its changes through time. You can read some examples and learn more about the form in the the piece On Form: Rachel Wetzsteon.

Here's an example by the poet Sara Teasdale.

The Lamp 
If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a rhymed or unrhymed Sapphic stanza or two. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Poetry Seven Share Odes

During the month of May the Poetry Seven spent their time working on odes. After much discussion of form, we decided that a bit of humor was in order. Beyond that, there were no rules, no subjects, and no limits.

This is where I'll admit I had a hard time with this. I was the kid in school who hated free writing. I stared at the page wondering what to write about. However, if I was given a topic, writing was easy. Form does that for me. When I have constraints, I find getting underway a bit easier. So for me, free verse is tough. And no theme meant I found myself in the same space I so often inhabited in high school English class, staring at the blank page wondering what the heck I was doing.

Inspiration eventually came from the strangest of places ... a visit to a port-a-potty. I'll let the poem tell the rest of the story.

Ode to Where My Backside's Been

To all the toilets that have been
privy to another side of me
from the port-a-potties I have
hovered over
     one hand holding my nose
     while the other finds purchase on the wall
to the heads on rolling ships
to the Amtrak bowls spouting blue water
and the tightly confined closets at 10,000 feet

To the padded seat my mother thought
was a good idea … it wasn’t
     a great whoosh of air escaped when you sat on it
     and in the heat of summer you stuck to it
to the myriad of public toilets I’ve run from
only to realize when traveling abroad
just how good we pampered Americans have it

From the loosely constructed,
half-walled stalls placed over a trough
running the length of the “Ladies” room at the
base of the Potala Palace
     an unavoidable stop before climbing all those steps
to the holes in the floor with footprints on either side
to the basins with no seats at all

I salute you all for your service
but you pale in comparison to
the water closet at Narita airport
whereupon entering the stall
     quiet music played
     water trickled into the bowl
and the heated seat … yes, I sat on it!
offered comfort and relief after a 15 hour flight

I still dream of that toilet in Tokyo
would even brave another trans-Pacific trip
to rest my weary behind
and perhaps, take a selfie
to begin a photographic ode
to the commode

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

You can read the fabulous poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, June 01, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rhupunt

I am still reading and pondering the forms in Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing: A Comprehensive Guide to Verse Forms and Metres from Around the World. The Rhupunt is a Welsh verse form. Lines are 4 syllables long, with the last line rhyming with the last line of the following stanza. Stanzas may be 3, 4, or 5 lines long. Here is the pattern for these versions.


x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

Since the lines in each stanza are generally thought to be portions of a long line, they are sometimes presented as a couplet with lines of 12 to 20 syllables. Written this way the rhupunt would look like this:
x x x A x x x A x x x A x x x B
x x x C x x x C x x x C x x x B

You can read more about the rhupunt at The Poets Garret.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form rhupunt. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.