Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - Sijo

Originating in Korea, sijo are poems divided into three or six lines. These poems frequently use word play in the form of metaphors, symbols and puns. Here is a description from AHApoetry.

More ancient than haiku, the Korean SIJO shares a common ancestry with haiku, tanka and similar Japanese genres. All evolved from more ancient Chinese patterns.

Sijo is traditionally composed in three lines of 14-16 syllables each, totaling between 44-46 syllables. A pause breaks each line approximately in the middle; it resembles a caesura but is not based on metrics.

I'm quite fond of the poems in Linda Sue Park's book Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo Poems. Her sijo are full of little surprises. One of my favorites is entitled Long Division. It is the poem that gives the book its title. Another favorite is the poem below.
Summer Storm

Lightning jerks the sky awake to take her photograph, flash!
Which draws grumbling complaints or even crashing tantrums from thunder--

He hates having his picture taken, so he always gets there late.
You can read some other examples of sijo at the Sejong Writing Competition.

How do you write a sijo? Here is a brief summary of the advice Park gives at the end of her book.
Three line poems should contain about 14 to 16 syllables per line. Six line poems should contain 7 or 8 syllables per line.

The first line should contain a single image or idea. The second line should develop this further. The last line should contain the twist.
So, your challenge this week is to write a sijo. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


    Pterols volitans
    By Steven Withrow

    Coral reefs and shallow bays
    Are your savanna,
    Your hunting ground.

    Your pride is protected
    By scorpion spines,

    Your jaws close on a crab,
    Belch up bits of shell,
    Messy eater!

  2. Wow - I actually had never heard of this form of poetry before. And Linda Sue Park is so amazing - now I have another book of hers to order from the library!
    I'll be thinking Sijo thoughts today! And frankly, that three part for - set-up, develop, twist - will have me thinking, too!
    Thanks and Namaste,

  3. The baby squirrel vaults, somersaults over the bird feeder
    Twanging the wire, scattering seeds,and dark crow curses.
    See daffodil and laurel smiles break out across the garden.

    ©2010 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved

  4. An interesting feeling of freedom and riffiness, compared to writing haiku!

    The earth rolls, and the books in my office shiver.
    I stand in the doorway, feeling the strangeness, till it stops.
    Is it because I wrote a poem this morning?

    I plant moss roses in a pot, hoping to see their pink faces.
    They don't feel like coming up, staying silent in the dirt.
    But a weed springs up, eager and lively as a puppy!

    It's spring. My students wiggle in their chairs and stare
    out the window, spying for green leaves and kites.
    I give them a severe look as my feet twitch under my desk.

    --Kate Coombs, 2010, all rights reserved

  5. Tenants

    Can you hear my baby starlings singing hymns to greet the morn?
    Spring semester begins with singing lessons and flying lessons.
    Today I am grateful for that gaping hole in my roof.

    © Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

  6. Black and yellow tempera paint splatters across tables and floors,
    crumpled tissue paper fills the corners like tumbleweeds,
    Budding Pollocks, Van Goghs and Mattisses go home for supper.

    diane davis

  7. First it took on a yellow cast, then the bruised sky grew icy grey.
    Newly-leafed trees bent low, their blossoms lacerated by wind.
    Rain, rain, rain beat upon the roof, shattering illusions of spring.

    This was the weather this afternoon in southern NH!

  8. Steam and pollen mix and can't decide if to rise or fall.
    Yellow-green or green-yellow, this powder-paste coats the dashboard.
    With a finger I record the date:
    Beltane 2010.

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  10. Naturalist underestimates tiger's vertical leap.
    Filmmaker breaks her camera, a vain attempt at rescue.
    Poet begins another draft, yet one more wayward sijo.

  11. Beyond Perception
    by Liz Korba

    Play it! Jazz. And make it loud – that call of birds and wind-swept marsh.

    Like crayfish, make its grip be strong and spice it up, do improvise.

    “Swing! It’s jazz,” and the Gulf goes on, “my soul’s that sound – eternal.”

  12. Acorns fall close to the oak,
    cashews close to the cashew tree,
    peanuts close to the - never mind.

    Kids fall close to the family tree.
    Shoes fall close to the shoe tree.
    Be careful under trees. Things fall.

  13. I love what everyone posted. And I know I'm bending the rules subject-wise, but needed to write about my brother.

    Oh brother, you’ve strayed too far,
    off your beaten trail this time,
    drifting with dissident drummers,
    scatting to discordant cadence,
    you have buried yourself deep,
    locked inside your felonious celf.

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved

  14. My attempt is here: