One Writer’s Journey

July 18, 2017

A New Type of Poem (New to Me Anyway)

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:13 am
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I don’t consider myself a poet but I like to dabble.  Because of that, I keep an eye out for new-to-me types of poetry. Here is one that Jane Yolen wrote about in her June 19 daily poetry mailing – the Golden Shovel.

Terrence Hayes recently created this form in homage to poet Gwendolyn Brooks.  The writer selects a favorite line or lines of poetry and uses the words, on order, to create a new poem.  Each word becomes the last word of a line in the new poem.

In this article, the Poetry Foundation says that often the lines come from a Brooks poem.  Yolen took hers from an Emily Dickenson poem.  Yolen wrote hers as something of a poetic conversation between her poem and Dickinson’s.  The Poetry Foundation article doesn’t mention this, nor does Robert Brewer in his post on the form.  Like Yolen, Brewer took his line from something other than a Brooks poem – his is from Basho.  The name of the form comes from the poem that Hayes originally created, The Golden Shovel.  You can read it here.

My first attempt involved working with lines from Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene Fields.  Wynken and Blynken? Oh, help. So I chose two other lines.  “Sailed on a river of crystal light/Into a sea of dew.” But the words “a,” “of,” and “on” weren’t a whole lot better.  Pbbt.

Ok.  Let’s switch poets.  What about Poe?  Not a children’s poet by a longshot but I sure won’t be encountering words like Wynken and Blynken.  I flipped to Eldorado, knowing from the start that I’d have to avoid that botched Spanish name.  Let’s go with something super simple – a single line. “Ride boldly ride.”

I can’t say that what I came up with is brilliant but it sure has a different tone than Eldorado.

Giddy-up we ride
Horses galloping boldly
Down the hall we ride.

In truth, I only strongly dislike the last line.  But nothing I try feels like an improvement. Different? Yes.  Improved?  No.

The key to making this one work may be abandoning the Golden Shovel format.  Why? Because I can see it working much better in four lines.  Three?  That just feels too short.  Four or six?  Much more do-able.  So if you’ll excuse me, my stick pony and I are going to go rework a poem.

–SueBE

 

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April 18, 2017

Poetry Terms: A Few Key Words You Need to Know

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:54 am
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April is National Poetry Month.  Whether you are a serious poet or just someone who dabbles like I occassionally do, this Writer’s Digest post includes thirty-seven key terms that will help you know what everyone else is talking about. Of course, if you are a serious poet, you probably know most of them.

Rhyme, rhythm, and stanza I already knew but another term I’ve frequently seen, but never seen defined, is chapbook. If you write for children, that sounds a lot like chapter book, a type of book for newly confident readers who can handle chapters but still need fairly direct, straightforward text.

In poetry, a chapbook is a small book of approximately 24 to 50 pages.  Not what the “chap” stands for but when I looked deeper into it I found that they are also called brochures or pamphlets.  Traditionally they were stitched but they can also be stapled and generally have a paper stock cover.   They are often themed and have kind of a DIY feel so if you have the urge to try self-publishing something you might want to study up on chapbooks. You can read more about chapbooks here and here.

A lot of other poetry terms, including anapest and dactyl,  have to do with stressed and unstressed syllables. Then there are the terms that have to do with sounds other than rhyme — assonance and consonance, for example.

If you only dabble, you may not feel the need to know all of these terms but if you write picture books it is important to know about word play and how to make your story a fun read-aloud experience.  That means poetry.  You may not need each and every one of these words to know if your piece “works” but an editor or other critiquer may use one of these terms to explain why your rhythym is off.

This list made it obvious that I have a whole lot to learn. I have to say that I knew only about 25% of the terms but now I have a good source for new things, including chapbooks, that I want to learn more about.

–SueBE

March 28, 2017

The Chant: Another Poetic Form

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:49 am
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trout trout troutOne of the poetic forms that we studied in Peggy Archer’s workshop was the chant.  The example that Peggy gave was from April Pulley Sayre’s Trout, Trout, Trout!  I have to admit, I didn’t see myself writing a chant so I didn’t take a lot of notes.

Bad, bad me.  Because the other when I was supposed to be paying attention to something else (like choir rehearsal), I started playing with the rhythm’s of bird names.  Single syllable names were slower.  Multi-syllable faster.  I needed both and I was going to need quite a few. Before long I was compiling a list by first letter with different columns for different syllable counts.  That a word list came into play isn’t entirely surprising since Peggy emphasized how helpful create a list can be as she works on a new poem.

In about ten minutes, I had a fair list bit I also had almost no idea what had been going on around me.  Sigh.  I put away my list and decided to pay attention instead of reading more about chants.

When I did get home so that I could do a bit of reading, here is what I discovered:

The chant may be the oldest poetic form.

It is called a chant because of the rhythm formed by repetition.

This repetition can be a single word or a line.

The repetition is important but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of the chant.  Something in the poem has to change.  That’s what makes it interesting.

Rhythm is a bit part of the chant, which could be why I was inspired to play with this form in choir.

Do a Google search and you can find numerous examples of chant poetry.  Some are short while others are quite long.

 

Me?  What I was playing with didn’t resemble any of the examples I found online. I want to read all of Trout, Trout, Trout! since it was the catalyst.  I just hope I can pull something together without getting totally lost in choir.

–SueBE

March 22, 2017

Poetry? Nah, I just write rhymes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am
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Last weekend, I attended Peggy Archer’s poetry workshop.  I sat and listened as she discussed rhythm and beats, near rhyme and true rhyme, soft and hard sounds and much, much more.  I was out of my element.  I’m a prose writer, honey.

Imagine my surprise when later that week I got an acceptance letter from Highlights Hello for a “humorous poem.”  I’d already blogged about the workshop in my post titled Poetry, Writing in Rhyme and Wordplay.

The irony of it all?  I still don’t consider myself a poet.

Poets write pieces fraught with meaning.  There’s symbolism and they use the rhythm of words and phrases to great effect.  What they write has layers and it is deep.

On a good day, I can pull off both rhyme and rhythm.  On an insanely good day, the rhythm doesn’t sound like a kid galloping across the hard wood floor — duh-dum, duh-dum, duh-dum, duh-dum.

Meaningful? Not so much.  There’s a twist at the end but rather than meaningful it tends to be quirky and funny (a little like me).

That doesn’t mean that I’m giving up.  Far from it.  As I walk the treadmill, I catch myself playing with the rhythm of words.  One, two, one, two, three, one, two, one, two, three.  Slower, faster, slower, faster.  Peggy has managed to arm me with a bit of knowledge so I’m quicker to recognize what isn’t going to work (galloping across the floor) and I better understand what does work.

I’m still not a poet but I’m a slightly less pedestrian creator of rhymes.  Hmm.  That’s sure going to be hard to fit on a business card.

–SueBE

March 31, 2015

Poems: April Poem-a-Day Challenge

Do you dabble in poetry writing?  Even if poems are just a fun thing and not something to try to sell, consider Robert Lee Brewer’s 2015 April PAD challenge.

PAD stands for Poem-A-Day. Participating poets write one poem per day throughout the month of April.  Each morning, Robert provides a prompt.  Then participants write something based on that prompt.  Participants who post their poems on Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog have a chance to win publication in an anthology that will be published by Words Dance Publishing.  The anthology will be compiled from the top poems for each day. You can find out more about the challenge here.

I’m not a poet but I still like to participate.  I occassionally write poetry for fun, not for publication.  Because it is just for fun, that takes off a lot of the pressure and that makes it a lot more . . . fun.  Seems obvious, yes?

At the moment, fun is something that is seriously lacking in my writing.  I’m not whining but stating fact.  My current project is for Red Line and is titled “Black Lives Matter.” I’m writing about killings and beatings and all sorts of things that we all need to know about but are, frankly, depressing.  Because of this, I need to inject my writing day with a bit of fun and, for me, the PAD challenge sounds like the thing.

Care to join me?

–SueBE

 

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