Friday, January 27, 2023

Poetry Sisters Write Cascade Poems

Happy 2023. I'm thrilled to kick off another year of writing with my poetry sisters. We met at the beginning of January to plan our challenges and talked about forms, themes, and prompts for the year. The theme guiding our writing for the year is transformation. 

The challenge this month was to write a cascade poem. You can learn more about this form in Robert Lee Brewer's column at Writer's Digest. This is a repetitive form where each line from the first stanza becomes the final line of each stanza that follows. Therefore, if the first stanza has 3 lines, the poem will have 4 stanzas. For this poem, I went with exploding stars.

Galactic Chemical Evolution*

Stars go supernova
expelling elements into space
we are made of stardust

time passes - in billions of years 
cascading elemental changes
stars go supernova

stars burn and die
seeding future generations
expelling elements into space

carbon, nitrogen, oxygen
formed, reformed, remade
WE are made of stardust

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2023. All rights reserved.

*Galactic chemical evolution is a real field of study. Here's a brief introduction.
Stars and interstellar gas in galaxies exhibit diverse chemical element abundance patterns that are shaped by their environment and formation histories. The aim of Galactic Chemical Evolution (GCE) is to use the observed abundances to unlock earlier epochs in the Universe, probe the mechanisms of galaxy formation, and gain insight into the evolution of stellar systems. 

The quote above came from Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia in a paper entitled Galactic Chemical Evolution. If you want to learn more about this topic, The Journal of Physics: Conference Series has a paper entitled Introduction to Galactic Chemical Evolution

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

    Would you like to try the next challenge? In February, we are writing ekphrastic poems. You get to choose the topic, form, meter, length, etc., but your poem must be based on an image. We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on February 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!  

    I hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jan Annino at Bookseed Studio. Happy poetry Friday, friends!

    Friday, December 30, 2022

    Poetry Sisters Write "Box"-Inspired Poems

    For our last challenge of 2022, we let the word box inspire our poems. I made a long list of phrases that included the word box and hoped I would find some inspiration there. Two items on that list really stood out for me. One was "tackle box." I have fond memories of poking around in my father's tackle box while we were fishing. The other was a button box, which immediately reminded me of this.

    This old candy tin was my grandmother's button "box." It was the one I spent hours playing with when I was young because "children were meant to be seen and not heard." 

    I also thought a lot about the shape of a box and wondered if I could write a poem in the shape of a box (or square). I did some searching and found that Lewis Carroll wrote in a poetic form where the number of words per line is equal to the total number of lines in the poem. What's challenging about this square poem is that each of the six lines was meant to be read horizontally OR vertically from top to bottom. Here is the poem Carroll wrote.

    I Often Wondered

    I often wondered when I cursed,
    Often feared where I would be –
    Wondered where she’d yield her love
    When I yield, so will she.
    I would her will be pitied!
    Cursed be love! She pitied me…

    It's a bit easier to see how this works in the image below.

    I decided to give this form a go. I started with 6x6 and found it incredibly difficult to write a poem that made sense across all the lines. Frustrated, I tried a 5x5 and then a 4x4. Ultimately, I landed on a 3x3 and wrote two stanzas. This isn't what Carroll had in mind, but I'm a rule-breaker. I did use the word box in my poem, so I feel as though I met the challenge posed.

    I created a grid to aid in writing my poem. It helped align the words and made reading the horizontal and vertical lines much easier.
    Here's another way to read the poem. I've highlighted the words in various ways to make the vertical lines stand out. Even though the poem is actually 2 individual square poems linked by a theme, I quite like the way the 6 words across the stanzas work together to create 3 entirely new lines. I did cheat with the singular/plural form of button(s). I'm not sure "buttons box" works, but there you have it. 

    Sorting Grandma’s buttons
    Grandma’s buttons box
    Buttons box bounty

    Assorted beautiful buttons
    Beautiful buttons speak
    Buttons speak history

    Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.

    I am still working on a tackle box poem and hope to share that soon. In the meantime, if you are into nerdy mathematical poetry connections, I came across a conference paper while researching square poems that I am fascinated with. You may be too. It is entitled Graeco-Latin Square Poems.

    You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

      I hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Patricia Franz at Reverie. Happy poetry Friday, friends!

      Friday, December 16, 2022

      Poetry Friday - Poetry Swap Joy

      It's been a while since I participated in a poetry swap, so I was determined to get involved this year. Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference has been generously coordinating summer and holiday swaps for years. It's a lovely way to "meet" someone new that you may only know through blogging. This year I was paired with Carmela Martino, author, poet, teacher, and blogger at Teaching Authors.

      I got home late in the evening and found her package waiting for me. Because I have been mired in grading, I decided to wait to open it until my grades were submitted this morning. So, at 9:01 am, after closing the semester, I sat down with a pot of tea (cacao chai from In Pursuit of Tea) and my gift. 

      One of the things I love about these swaps is that the participants write poems for one another. Imagine receiving a poem written just for you! There's something magical about it. When I learned Carmela had been a math major in college, I knew I wanted to write a Pi poem for her. For her part, Carmela took one of the recent Poetry Sisters' challenges to write a dansa and crafted this poem. (Click to enlarge.)

      Isn't it lovely? 

      Carmela also generously sent along the BEST calendar ever!
      I adore both Frost and Dickinson, so this is a real treat. Perhaps just as wonderful is that Carmela has  introduced me to an Etsy shop that produces delightful creations. Just look at the card Carmela's note came in!

      There was also a calendar card in the package.
      That right there is one of my favorite poems. I have it memorized. It hangs on my wall. This is perfection. 

      These items all came from Farmhouse Greetings. The shop is on a break right now, but I know I'll be stopping by frequently to see what they're sharing.

      Thank you, Tabatha for organizing the holiday swap, and an even bigger thank you to Carmela for making this experience so special. 

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

      Friday, November 25, 2022

      Poetry Sisters Write Recipe Poems

      The challenge we undertook this month was to write recipe poems. I had a lot of starts and stops on our Zoom call Sunday. I wasn't really loving any of my poems. (Isn't this how I always begin these posts?) I was prepared to share a draft of at least one poem, but then I received some profoundly sad news and started thinking about the path to healing we all walk in the face of unimaginable loss.

      This poem is my response to this news.


      Recipe for Healing

      marinate in denial
         gradually absorb this terrible news

      broil in anger
         briefly, to avoid bitterness and resentment

      stew in bargaining
         with just a pinch of "if only" and "what ifs"

      simmer in depression
         until the fog of sadness lifts

      steep in acceptance
         acknowledging change and loss

      knead and fold
      shape and prove
      REST and RISE

      Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.

      You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

        Would you like to try the next challenge? In December we are letting box inspire us. Your poem can be about a box, in the form of a box, about Boxing day, a boxing match, etc. Let your imagination run wild! We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on December 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!  

        I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Happy poetry Friday friends!

        Friday, October 28, 2022

        Poetry Sisters Write Dansas

        The challenge this month was to write in the form of the dansa. We took our cues about the form at Writer's Digest. I had trouble starting this one, so I did a little more digging into the form to see if there might be some other ways to approach it. I found the explanation at Poetry Magnum Opus to be particularly helpful because it showed related forms.

        The dansa is a poem generally written in 3 stanzas with a refrain at the end of each stanza. The first stanza is a quintain, while the rest are quatrains. While there is no set meter, these poems as originally conceived were written in lines of 6 or 7 syllables. The rhyme scheme is AbbaA/bbaA/bbaA, where A is the refrain.

        As you might guess from the name, the dansa was actually a poem set to music meant for joyful dancing. I found the joyful part hard to come by. Every poem I attempted turned to some heavy topic, even if it didn't start there. Nothing worked. I finally gave up on all the ideas I tried out when our group met on Zoom this week and decided to look for a line of poetry to use as my refrain. This actually yielded a lot of good ideas. Ultimately, I turned to Emily for inspiration and used a line from the poem Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)

        Forever is Composed of Nows

        Forever is composed of nows
        Seize the day, be brave and try
        Do some things that terrify
        Sheer a sheep, milk some cows
             Forever is composed of nows

        Take a lesson, learn to fly
        Join a contest eating pie
        Climb a live oak’s beckoning boughs
             Forever is composed of nows

        Sing your child a lullaby
        Find a church and testify
        Dance on tables, raise eyebrows
             Forever is composed of nows

        Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.

        You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

          You're invited to our challenge in the month of November! Here's the scoop: we're creating recipe poems! Your choice of form, length, meter, or topic, but each poem will be an assemblage of elements, using recipe text/cooking instructions to create …something. From a recipe for disaster, to your favorite aperitif, you have a month to craft your creation and serve it forth on November 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

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

          Friday, September 30, 2022

          Poetry Sisters Write Definitos

          The challenge this month was to write in the form of the definito. Head on over to Heidi Mordhorst's place, my juicy little universe, to learn more about the roots of this form. Essentially, this is a poem that focuses on the meaning of a "less common" word through word play. It is written in free verse and consists of 8-12 lines, with the last word of the poem the word being defined. These poems are aimed at readers ages 8-12, so getting this right was a challenge.

          I spent some time perusing vocabulary lists for 4th- and 5th-grade students. I found a few words I liked, but none that really struck a chord. Then I pulled out the book L is for Lollygag: Quirky Words for a Clever Tongue, written by the Chronicle Books Staff. Within minutes I had a gaggle of words to write about.


          The word that I ultimately settled on was betwixt. During our Zoom meeting Sara suggested I break the word and put the poem in between the word parts. I just couldn't get that out of my mind. I don't usually title my poems, but I thought I might try some variation of this suggestion. Here's what I came up with.

          Be- (insert definition here) -twixt

          not engine or caboose
               but railcar

          not elementary or high school
               but middle

          not once upon a time or happily ever after
               but the action in between

          not Oreo chocolate
               but vanilla cream

          not first base or second
               but playing a game of pickle

          when you're stuck in the middle
               you're BETWIXT

          Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.

          You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

            Would you like to try the next challenge? In October we are writing in the form of the Dansa. You can learn more about this form at Writer's Digest. We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on October 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

            I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

            Friday, August 26, 2022

            Poetry Sisters Write Bop Poems

            This month's challenge was to write a Bop poem. This form requires 3 stanzas, each followed by a refrain. The first and third stanzas each have 6 lines, while the second stanza has 8. What's interesting about this form is that presents a problem, explores it, and then resolves it or describes the attempt to solve it. You can learn more about this form at Writer's Digest.

            We decided that we would use the common refrain "Let's kick that can down the road."

            I spent some time brainstorming ideas, and they were all political, and depressing. When I dug a little deeper and more literally, I couldn't stop thinking about summer nights playing Kick the Can. Do you know this game?

            With this game and others in mind, this is the poem I came up with. I'll admit I did alter the refrain a bit.

            Choosing teams was always hard
            no one wanted a little sister tagging along
            but mom insisted 
            they were so much older
            I adored them
            what could they do?

            They kicked that can down the road.

            I didn’t think I was annoying
            though they often swore it was true
            running faster than I ever could
            they tried to lose me or hid
            but I heard their whispered voices
            wondered how I could fit in
            wanted so badly to play their games
            what could they do?

            They kicked that can down the road.

            In the fading light of summer
            they sometimes humored me
            let me join for hide and seek
            but they never searched me out
            eventually, they moved away
            no thought for the sibling left behind

            They kicked that can down the road.

            Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.

            You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. Tanita also happens to be our hostess extraordinaire this week.

              Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month we are writing Definito poems. You can learn more about this form at Heidi Mordhorst's place, my juicy little universe. We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on September 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

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

              BTW, Tanita's blog is a bit wonky this weekend. You can check out all the Poetry Friday posts here.