Friday, September 24, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Tanka

This month's challenge was to revisit poems written by other members of the group and write tanka in inspired by or in conversation with those poems.

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

I started this challenging by visiting the blogs of my sisters and reading through some of their poems. I selected one from each and tried to write to every choice. I promptly got stuck. I did a lot of syllable counting and found I was having trouble making complete thoughts fit on each line, which I felt was necessary. Enjambment doesn't feel right in this form, at least not to me. I did a little bit of reading and found this bit from the article Tanka as Diary by Amelia Fielden to be helpful.
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.
Kelly also did a series of posts about tanka and I found this one, How the parts of tanka relate to one another, also a good reference.

Ultimately, I tried to focus on short/long/short/long/long as opposed to strictly 5/7/5/7/7. I'm not sure I've done justice to the challenge, but I'll let you be the judge. Here are a few of the poems I wrote and the poems that inspired them.

Sara wrote a poem entitled I cannot. Here's the poem it inspired.

If you can boil
water, you can poach an egg
don't dream of omelettes
instead take joy in wheat toast
bathed in a lava-like flow

Andi wrote a poem entitled Living in the Space Between. Here's the poem it inspired about my parents.

from blind date to love
a lifetime together
years of highs, lows, in-betweens
sweet memories, no regrets

Laura wrote a poem entitled First Snow. Here's the poem it inspired. (I borrowed a phrase of hers for this one.)

welcoming winter
sisters make snow angels
freezing together
best yearly tradition
despite our age, nothing's changed

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

That's probably enough for today. I'll share the remaining tanka written to poems by the rest of the gang in the week to come.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month our challenge is a Wordplay Poem, as invented by Nikki Grimes. You can read Nikki’s description at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog in a post entitled Spotlight on Nikki Grimes and DMC Challenge. You've got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with us on October 29th 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 our poetry sister Laura Purdie Salas. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Poetry Friday is Here!

Hello all. I've been away for a while, so I'm happy to be back and hosting this week. I lost my mother on June 30th and am still mourning her. I feel adrift, or perhaps untethered is a better word. I've had a hard time writing, starting many poems but finding myself unable to follow through and finish them. I have, however, been reading and reflecting.

Today I'd like to share a poem by Barbara Crooker. 

is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I'm not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I'm going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'm rounding things up old school today, so please leave your link in the comments and I'll add you to the post throughout the day. Happy poetry Friday all.


Linda Mitchell of A Word Edgewise shares the poem The Office Building by Helen Hoyt.

Jama Rattigan is back from her summer blog break and is sharing Mary Oliver's dog poems.

Michelle Kogan shares an original poem entitled Winged Harvest-Eating.

Matt Forrest Essenwine shares an original poem about food at the fair.

Jone MacCulloch shares a photo accompanied by an original poem and a reminder

Robyn Hood Black shares an original poem, a poetic excerpt by Shelley, and a 9-11 remembrance.

Linda Baie of Teacher Dance shares a book review and an original poem for 9-11.

At Gathering Books, Myra is sharing the poem A New Language by Casandra Lopez.

Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core shares the poem The Web by Alison Hawthorne Deming.

Becky Herzog of Sloth Reads shares a number of original poems written for her Poemtember poetry list.

Alan Wright of Poetry Pizzazz is playing with form and shares an original rondelet.

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link shares original poems on 9-11.

Kat Apel shares the poem Farewell Town by Fan Yun and an original poem she wrote in Chines. (Don't worry, it's translated!)  

At Unexpected Intersections, Elisabeth Norton shares her poetic thoughts on history and timelines.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm shares an original poem entitled Make a Line.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-foresaken town shares Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare.

At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon shares an original poem entitled My Favorite Things.

Janice Scully of Salt City Verse shares information on the Carnegie Library and an original poem entitled If Not For the Library and Books.

Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti shares information about the book The Best American Poetry 2021, which comes out at the end of September.

Mary Lee Hahn of A(nother) Year of Reading shares an original sonnet entitled Summer's End.

Karen Edmisten shares the poem Ode to Teachers by Pat Mora.

At The Apples in My Orchard, Carol shares an original poem entitled Goldenrod Prairie Walk.

Joann Early Macken shares an original chimney swift haiku and a video she filmed of a bird cloud funneling into a chimney.

Denise Krebs of Dare to Care shares two original poems about faith in dark times.

Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe is sharing an original poem entitled Back to School.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Poetry Sisters Tackle the Zentangle

This month's challenge was to compose a zentangle poem.  Kat Apel does a really nice job describing them on her site. This is similar to blackout poetry, though doodles and lines are used to block and frame the words. 

All of these poems come from pages found in Maugham's Choice of Kipling's Best, published by Doubleday & Company in 1953. I found this at a thrift shop, so even though it sets my teeth on edge to destroy a book, I've committed to using this one for experimenting with this form.

When we met on Sunday I chose a page and wrote all the words that looked promising for a poem, in order, on a large sheet of paper. I underlined words that I thought might work together, and wrote a poem. Then I went back with another color and tried again.

When I felt like I had something, I boxed the words on the page. Sara suggested connecting the words, so I did, hoping for some organic shape to appear.

Here's the poem. 

smoke and shadow lay long
woods full of scents and sounds
pretty things lark about
sit still

Of course, after I boxed them, I realized I didn't like the ending and should have done something different after "lark about," so I abandoned this one.

Before we met, I experimented with a page and a poem, but it's too busy and the words got lost, though I liked where the poem was going.
The hearts and flower are a bit much. Here's the untitled poem.

lovingly connected
without a word
caught in his eyes
hearts beating slowly
hands dropped
good enough to 
fill the silence

I wish that had been hearts beating quickly, but you can't change the words or the order in a poem like this, so it can be very frustrating. Perhaps this is a good way to generate a first draft of a poem.

The poem I landed on doesn't feel very zentangle-ish, but it's what I've got. Here is the page, some closeups, and the poem.

summer day
simple things
grass, sweet smelling
wind, light
friends together

My poetry sisters know that this last week has been hard. I've been struggling with some health issues, but in the midst of it all, my mother fell, had surgery, then suffered a stroke. She declined rapidly and was placed in hospice care on Tuesday. She has not woken since Wednesday. I can't be with her and am heartbroken about it. I'm finding it hard to write poems now, but I did manage this zentangle for her.

For June
I remember lots of things
the sea
your life
I have loved you
every minute
mother mine

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. 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? Next month we are writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy - or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We're talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they're two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real/imagined, civilized/savage, winter/summer, function/dysfunction. Interested? Good! You've got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else's) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! (Thanks to Tanita for writing this bit!)

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

This month's Poetry Sisters challenge was to write a poem in response to an image. We had a few to choose from, but I decided to write to a photo Sara shared of Spider Dress and Serpent. This dress was designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1946 for Martha Graham dance productions. It was worn by Graham for the performance Cave of the Heart, in which she portrayed Medea who, after being abandoned for another woman by her husband Jason, killed his wife and their children. 

Photo taken by Sara Lewis Holmes at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

When we met on Zoom almost two weeks ago, I was still thinking about the 4×4 form that I'd seen in an earlier Poetry Friday post. Denise Krebs at Dare to Care invented this form. Here are the rules.
  • 4 syllables in each line
  • 4 lines in each stanza
  • 4 stanzas
  • 4 times repeating a refrain line–line 1 in the first stanza, line 2 in the second stanza, line 3 in the third stanza, and line 4 in the fourth stanza.
  • Bonus: 4 syllables in the title
  • No restrictions on subject, rhyme, or meter.
This felt like a good form to constrain my writing. Given the dress, a restrictive form seemed like the way to go. I wrote several different poems, but this one is my favorite.

Corsetted Heart

inside a cage
I'm tightly bound
can barely move
no breath, no sound

my heart is locked
inside a cage
the pain it feels
time can't assuage

these wounds don't heal
when locked away
inside a cage
a taut ballet

most tender souls
will disengage
when living life
inside a cage

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. 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? Next month we are writing zentangle poems. If you are unfamiliar with this form, check out this post by Kat Apel. Share your poem on June  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 Michelle Kogan. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Poetry Friday - Celebrating Mary Lee

When I started my blog late in 2006, I quickly found my way to kidlit blogs, Poetry Friday and an amazing community. A Year of Reading, so beautifully written by Mary Lee and Franki, became one of my regular reads. It has evolved over the years, much like this blog has, though Mary Lee and Franki have been more consistent than I. 

I'm grateful for all Mary Lee has taught me over the years about teaching, about poetry, about life. As a teacher educator, I find retirements bittersweet. I know how hard it is to find good teachers, especially those who serve for many years with a passion that is unabated. I also know how hard teaching is and how well-deserved a rest is when it is time to go.

I spent a week trying on different poetic forms and trying to find the words for a fitting tribute. In the end, I went with fishing, because this isn't an end, but a beginning. The poem I wrote is a lai. The Lai is a French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes, though the rhyme can vary from stanza to stanza. Here are features of the form.

  • 9 lines.
  • Rhyme scheme is a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b.
  • Lines ending with rhyme a are five syllables in length.
  • Lines ending with rhyme b are two syllables in length.
Mary Lee, I wish you many happy hours in a stream, up to your waders in quiet, and sun, and peace.

Fly Fishing
perfect and apart
river steals my heart
each swish
of line, each cast start
a rhythm to chart
a wish
that this quiet art
hook set will impart
a fish

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out the posts honoring Mary Lee today, as well as all the other wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, April 30, 2021

NPM 2021 - Poetry Friday, Found Poem 30, and Writing With My Poetry Sisters

Welcome Poetry Friday friends! This year for National Poetry Month I wrote and shared found poems, most of which were science- or nature-themed. Even though my poetry sisters and I are sharing the results of this month's challenge today, I couldn't let the month pass without completing one final poem in this series.

Today's found poem comes from Seashells: More Than a Home, written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. Unlike other found poems I have written this month, this one uses words and phrases in an order that is different from the way they appear in the text.


at home in the sea
live a secret life
some float and dive
dodge and dart
skim and glide 
through the water

some spend time
on the ocean floor
scrape and grind
sand and mud
tunnel into the seabed

in time, a curious afterlife 
as treasures 
in all shapes, 
sizes and colors
wash up on beaches
all over the Earth

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can find links to all the found poems I've written this month on the NPM 2021 page. I also shared these poems as images on my Instagram, which is a good place to go if you want to see them all in one place.  

This month's Poetry Sisters challenge was to write a poem in the style of Linda Hogan's "Innocence." I spent a lot of time thinking about (stressing over) this one and was feeling really lost. We had an opportunity to exchange ideas before we met on Sunday, and our subsequent conversation about form and topic really helped me think about how to proceed. Since I have volcanoes on the brain, I decided to use a variation of Hogan's first line and begin with "There is nothing more __."  The word I chose was constructive. The poem didn't go where I expected, but they rarely do. This one is untitled.

There is nothing more constructive
than an active volcano
eerily silent for centuries then
suddenly roaring to life
with a mighty rumble
belching ash, cinder, and smoke
into the sky 
while fissures in the earth
ooze lava in a scorching
blanket of molten rock

Beneath the surface, Vulcan
hammers away at the smithy 
forging weapons of war
Earth tremors have me wondering
who has wronged whom, 
and why
We do not learn from our missteps
conflict is inevitable, as unavoidable
as an island newly formed
from a volcano awoken

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. 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? Next month we are writing ekphrastic poems. Share your poem on May 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 Matt Forrest Esenwine. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

NPM 2021 - Found Poem 29

Today's found poem comes from Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan.

Wild About Nature

hold it close
feel it squish
run barefoot
climb tall trees
just sit--watch

discover secrets to
marvelous mysteries
  caterpillars changing into butterflies
   water freezing into snowflakes
    trees turning rain and sunlight into sweet sap

fall in love 
with nature
keep passion 
for the environment

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

I hope you'll come back tomorrow and see what new poem I've found. Until then, you may want to read previous poems in this series. I'm also sharing these found poems as images on my Instagram in case you want to see them all in one place. 
April 1 - Flotsam
April 2 - A Warm Wind
April 3 - Zentangle Poem
April 4 - Soap Bubbles
April 6 - Mount St. Helens
April 8 - Muir in California
April 9 - Night on the Reef
April 12 - Slow Thoughts
April 13 - Snowflake Bentley 
April 16 - One Well
April 17 - Phytoplankton 
April 18 - Beneath My Feet
April 19 - Being Caribou 
April 21 - Fossils
April 22 - On the Brink
April 23 - Surtsey
April 24 - Up From the Dirt
April 25 - Black Holes
April 26 - Meant to be Noticed