Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Labor

In a speech given at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. asked students "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?". In this speech he said the following about work.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
With Labor Day just one week away, I thought this would be a good time to celebrate those who work day in and day out, without fanfare, without accolades, and often, without notice. I'd like to celebrate those who do the jobs that few of us are inclined to do. I can't imagine where we would be without them.

I hope you'll write about labor this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Lune

One can find many variations on haiku these days. Often these forms attempt to find a syllabic pattern that is more appropriate to English than Japanese. Today's poetry stretch takes the form of one of these variations.
The lune is a haiku variation invented and named by poet Robert Kelly. The lune, so called because of how the right edge is bowed like a crescent moon, is a thirteen syllable form arranged in three lines of 5 / 3/ 5 respectively.
(Adapted from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
You can try your hand at writing an instant lune or read some examples by Robert Kelly here.

I wrote these lunes to get us started.
Lune #1
wings beating, whirring
you float there
sipping sweet nectar

Can you guess what I was watching when I wrote this?

Lune #2
watermelon days
rush headlong
toward pencils, books, desks

I suppose none of us can escape this one. I, for one, can't wait!
So, do you want to play? What kind of lunes will you write? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Snowball

It will be in the nineties today, but I'll be keeping cool writing snowball poetry. Here's an introduction.

The OULIPO is a form created in 1960 by a writer and mathematician. The form is designed to examine verse written under strict constraints. There are many constraint forms. Snowball is one of these forms.
  • Snowball: A poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer. This form could also start with one word with each line growing by one word.
You can read more about this form at Wikipedia and The official site is here, but alas, I do not read French. (However, the Google language tools are somewhat helpful.)

There is an interesting article entitled Snowballs and Other Numerate Acts of Textuality that has a nice introduction to the form. YOu can find this snowball poem by John Newman there.
(sort of)
new topic
to discuss.

do you enjoy
does word play
give headeaches?
are you confused?

This is a snowball,
A poetic form which
was created by those
who group themselves
with the name of Oulipo.
Every line contains one
Additional letter. U like?

I hope you'll join me in writing a snowball poem this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments. Have fun with this one!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Tanka

Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry that has been practiced for more than 1000 years. Tanka are composed of 31 syllables in a 5/7/5/7/7 format. Most tanka focus on a single event of some significance.

In her article Tanka as Diary, Amelia Fielden writes:
Tanka, meaning ‘short song’, is a 1300 year old Japanese form of lyric poetry. Non-rhyming, it is composed in Japanese in five phrases of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.

In English, tanka are normally written in five lines, also without (contrived) rhyme, but in a flexible short/long/short/long/long rhythm. Due to dissimilarities between the two languages, it is preferable not to apply the thirty-one syllable standard of the Japanese poems, to tanka in English. Around twenty-one plus/minus syllables in English produces an approximate equivalent of the essentially fragmentary tanka form, and its lightness. To achieve a “perfect twenty-one”, one could write five lines in 3/5/3/5/5 syllables. If the resulting tanka sounds natural, then that’s fine. However, the syllable counting does not need to be so rigid. Though no line should be longer than seven syllables, and one should try to maintain the short/long/short/long/long rhythm, variations such as 2/4/3/5/5 or 4/6/3/6/7 or 3/6/4/5/6 syllable patterns can all make good tanka.
Tanka Online has a wonderful Quick Start Guide to Writing Tanka. Finally, Atlas Poetica has a terrific post entitled 25 Tanka for Children. The educator's note at the bottom has very useful advice for writing tanka.

Will you write some tanka with us this week? What will you write about? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.