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Archive for the ‘Focus on Form’ Category

Mary’s Villanelle: Dark Days

I love the Villanelle. It’s very musical, with the rhyme and rhythm, and the repeating lines. When done right, it really rolls off the tongue when read aloud. My first two Villanelles are not in classic form with iambic pentameter. That added an additional challenge this time around. I also went a little darker than the previous Muselings… My mind has been on The Secret World, a modern day MMO of myths, legends, and conspiracies. So that is where I took my inspiration.

wendigo_C2

wendigo_C2 (Photo credit: doctorserone)

Dark Days 

She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark,
almost too late to set the world aright;
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

A flock of ravens flies through the themepark,
abandoned structures gleaming in moonlight.
She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark.

Filth clinging like a permanent birthmark,
wendigo crouches just within their sight–
hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

Her two companions circle like a shark–
once enemies, they now combine their might–
she grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark.

The monster takes first blood: claws tears a mark
through one man’s side, his face goes deathly white.
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

Wendigo falters at a shotgun’s bark
and blade moves in to finish off the fight.
She grips her sword, the battlefield looks stark;
Hold ground, dig deep, the days are getting dark.

mary-sig2 (1)

Lin’s Focus on Villanelle

Cupid Cupid weather vane Pentlow, Essex.

Cupid Cupid weather vane Pentlow, Essex. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is my first villanelle,  from 2009. I found it very interesting and challenging to work in a rhymed form instead of my usual free verse.  It was also a stretch to work to  a rhyming pattern, but I managed it. I hope to see some of your villanelles posted here!

Love’s Progress

– A villanelle-
By
Lin Neiswender

Love takes wing and flies away
Shy Cupid with arrows adrift
Leaves mere mortals to seize the day

Blushing glances longings betray
Pulses beating now more swift
Love takes wing and flies away

Stem by stem a sweet bouquet
Rose and lilac scents do lift
Leaves mere mortals to seize the day

Soft low voices fears allay
Giving fear a mere short shrift
Love takes wing and flies away

New lover’s whisper, a tender play
Hearts will meet then souls uplift
Leaves mere mortals to seize the day

One kiss may give passion sway
A final tender parting gift
Love takes wing and flies away
Leaves mere mortals to seize the day

©2009 Lin Neiswender

Previously published in Love and Other Passions, 2012

 

Focus on Form: Villanelle

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, each of us Muselings will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog. 

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Form

A villanelle is a 19th century form was originally a song/dance sung by a troubadour. The modern form developed in the 19th century.

Rules

A Villanelle is a a nineteen line poem consisting of five tercets and a concluding quatrain. It contains only two rhymes. The first and third line of each of the tercets and the first and final two lines of the concluding quatrain form one, and the middle lines of the tercets and the second line of the quatrain form the second.  In addition, the first and third lines of the first tercet are refrains. Thus. let A1, B1 A2 be the first tercet, and a small a or b indicate a line that rhymes with either the A lines or the B line, the poem lays out as:

A1, B1, A2    a3, b2, A1    a4, b3,A2    a4,b4,A1   a5,b5,A3    ,b5,A1,A2

In addition to the rhymes and the refrain,  in a classic villanelle, the lines themselves should be in iambic pentameter and the repeated lines be repeated without variation.

Tip: pay careful attention to the first stanza, and especially to the end words, as you will need to find a goodly number of rhymes for them.

Examples

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


One Art
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Writeit!) like disaster.

My own try:

This poem comes from Robert Lee Brewer’s PAD challenge for April 18th: take a regional cuisine and make it the title of the poem

Southern Fried Chicken

A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
so spicy, crispy, crunchy with a golden crust
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Add salt, paprika for that special zing.
A pinch of jalapeno is a must.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

The spicy pepper adds a bit of bling
to penetrate the chicken’s flesh.  I trust
you’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

The oil must be hot so you can bring
the crust to crispness. As we have discussed,
a chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

Keep clear of boiling oil. It will sting.
If oil becomes too hot it may combust.
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

At last the chicken’s ready, and you spring
to action, find the flavor most robust.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Your Turn

Now I open it up to you. I welcome any feedback on my poem, as long as it is constructive and not destructive. Let’s help each other improve.

I’d love to see your own attempts at the form as well. You can post them in the comments here, or on future posts, or link to your poem if it’s on a separate site.

 

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Report from the Mass Poetry Festival


Swirls Four
Medium: Mouse on mousepad
Artist: Margaret Fieland

Painted Rectangles
Medium: Mouse on Mousepad
Artist: Margaret Fieland

This past weekend I attended the Mass Poetry Festival, which took place this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I skipped Friday, but I did  attend both Saturday and Sunday.

Back when the event was in the planning stages, I got an email about a reading of poetry from their books by Massachusetts authors who had published a book of poetry in 2011. I hesitated — “Lifelines” was written by six of us, and I was “sure” they’re reject me — but sent in my information anyway.

They said yes, illustrating yet again my father’s maxim, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  I hope I remember this: not to assume I will be rejected simply because something is a reach or is out of my comfort zone.

I was part of the Sequential Poetry Reading for poets with new books of poetry that appeared in 2011.  The reading started at Noon on Saturday and lasted until 2:40. We were told that we each would have eight minutes to read, but we had a couple of no-shows, so we each had ten minutes.

The reading went well. The audience included us poets and about an equal number of what I expect were friends or family. It was a real treat to be be able to listen to the poets reading from their own work. A good many (most) of them simply read from a copy of their book. I might have done the same except for Michele’s excellent advice to print out what I wanted to read in LARGE, DARK type, and to practice. I did both, and I was very glad I did. Michele also suggested alternating dark and light poems.  I doubt that, left to my own devices, I’d have thought of this either.

There  were a long list of workshops taking place all three days of the festival, and we were encouraged to sign up in advance. I did sign up for several things, but as it turned out, simply walking into the workshop was generally good enough. I suspect the pre-sign-up thing was to figure out expected attendance at the workshop in order to facilitate room assignments, number of handouts, and the like. Next year, I will attempt to sign up for what interests me, but I won’t be a slave to the schedule.

The workshops themselves were tremendous fun. I arrived Saturday morning, signed in, got a copy of the workshops and a map, and by that time it was a bit too late for me to get to much in the way of workshops, so I ended up going to a couple of the art activity things that had been set up with kids in mind.

I *love* art activities — my mother was an artist who specialized in portraits. I was hugely energized by the art projects, and ended up spending several hours Saturday evening after I returned home playing with MS paint. I didn’t get much sleep Saturday night — MS paint is hugely addicting, and I was pretty pumped up from the festival — so I considered skipping Sunday. In the end, I decided that I would just main line coffee and go for it.

Good decision. The first workshop I attended was given by someone I know. He’s a kick-ass teacher, and I had signed up for the workshop. Not only was the workshop very good, but the attendees, as is often the case with Tom’s workshops, were equally interesting. Several of us exchanged email addresses, and I hope we will keep in touch.

There was also a  lit mag and small press event, and I bought several journals and a book of poetry, collected flyers from some of the lit magazines. I’m reluctant to order off the internet for magazines I’ve never had a chance to look over in person, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to pick up some of the ones I was interested in. The poetry book is a book with poetry in French on one side and a translation by Marilyn Hacker on the other. I find reading modern poetry in French a challenge, so I welcome the opportunity to, first, cover up Marilyn’s translation and simply read the poems in French, and eventually, to read her translation as well.

I didn’t stay for the Saturday night headliners — they started at 7:30 — but the Sunday headliners started at 2:15, so I did go to that. The readers were Frank Bidart, Martha Collins, and Stephen Dunn. Stephen Dunn is one of my favorite poets. I  knew two of the poems he read.

What engages me as a reader and writer of poetry is conciseness and precision in language, the sound of the words themselves, their cadence. Freshness of imagery. A sense of humor. A poem that forces me to take another look at the familiar, evocation of emotion.

Here is one of the poems he read — one of the two I recognized:
What Goes On
by Stephen Dunn

After the affair and the moving out,
after the destructive revivifying passion,
we watched her life quiet

into a new one, her lover more and more
on its periphery. She spent many nights
alone, happy for the narcosis

of the television. When she got cancer
she kept it to herself until she couldn’t
keep it from anyone. The chemo debilitated
and saved her, and one day

her husband asked her to come back —
his wife, who after all had only fallen
in love as anyone might
who hadn’t been in love in a while —

and he held her, so different now,
so thin, her hair just partially
grown back. He held her like a new woman

and what she felt
felt almost as good as love had,
and each of them called it love
because precision didn’t matter anymore.

And we who’d been part of it,
often rejoicing with one
and consoling the other,

we who had seen her truly alive

 

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Make Visible: Aragman

I made my anagram poem, an Aragman, from a line from “A Blessing”, a beautiful poem by James Arlington Wright.  I found 6001 anagrams for “contain their happiness.”  I chose the ones I used for the poem below from the first 1000.

Here are the basic rules for constructing an Aragman (courtesy of Mary Jensen, her post is here: Focus on Form:  Aragman).

*****************************************************************************

Rules

The poem consists of six-line stanzas, ending with a stand alone line.

The concept centers around anagrams (“aragman” is, in fact, an anagram of “anagram”). Here are the rules, as set by Buttaci:

  1. First of all, begin with a word or two, perhaps your first name or first and last name. Settle on a word or two with not too many letters.
  2.  After you settle on a word, go to the internet site http://Wordsmith.org/anagram
  3. Type in your word and click on “Get Anagrams.” Instantly, you will be provided with all the words that use the letters of your chosen word.
  4. Copy/paste all the words that are derived from your chosen word and carry it over to your Microsoft Word screen, give the file a name, and save it.
  5. Now take a look at each of the anagrams and decide on a few for your aragman. You will need three for each six-line stanza. From the list select those anagrams that can be woven into your poem.
  6. In each stanza, odd-numbered lines 1, 3, and 5 are different anagrams from your list. If it’s possible, restrict each anagram on these lines to the same number of syllables. Make these anagram lines darker than the others. Even-numbered lines 2, 4, and 6 are completions of corresponding anagram lines 1, 3, and 5. If possible, let these completion lines also conform to the same number of syllables.
  7. The poem’s last line stands alone, after the stanzas, and it is one more anagram line.

The trick for this is finding a good phrase or word that will produce enough workable anagrams. Have fun trying different word combinations until you find something you like.

******************************************************************************

Those are the rules, here’s how to break them.

Contain Their Happiness

(you are a blessing to me)

You speak to me in code, tapping on my wrist,

heartaches pinion pints

the pinions of my heart, the engines of my mouth,

apothecaries ninth spin

the bottle spins, “Drink Me” the tag reads,

piranhas cops ninetieth

he’s not like the others, for the 90th time,

partisanship once thine

I cleave you, we break apart,

pharaohs incites tenpin

like bowling in bikinis, it’s a delicate dance,

antenna choppiest irish

radio only gets U2 songs from the 80s, vinyl varieties,

passionate chip thinner

to fit into your white-picket-fence vision, let me

phantasies enrich point

enter your dreams, as you have mine,

catnap pithiness heroin

such a diabolical drug in my veins.

© Anne Westlund

Point Judith, Rhode Island

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Focus on Form: Aragman, Lin Style

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

This week’s poem, an aragman, was a real challenge for me.

I generated over 2000 anagrams with the link http://Wordsmith.org/anagram using my pets’  names and saved the results to a Word document. I then picked about 50 that appealed to me which I could see had potential as leading lines into my choice of non-anagram words.

I put them into 2 six-line stanzas starting as odd number lines, even numbers my choice of words, with a single anagram as the closing line. There are rules suggested for syllables which I dare to say I ignored- I was having enough of a problem getting the poem to make some sort of cohesive whole! My favorite anagram I couldn’t work in was “Gale omen sky” so maybe I can use that and some of the other left-over bits in a new project.

Here is my effort:

Smokey Angel

-an Aragman-

Gleams key on          
St. Peter’s belt
As elegy monk
Drowns his sorrows
La genome sky
Hovers over all

Angels key Om
Praising abounds
Make yes long
Open golden gates as
Gale monkeys
Laugh in storm like

Leaky gnomes

© 2012 Lin Neiswender

 

 

Focus on form: My Aragman

Tuesday, Mary posted about a new form, Aragman:

here is a quick recap

Pick a word or words, and generate anagrams by going to http:// wordsmith.org/anagram and generating a list

Pick some anagrams. They form lines 1, 3, and 5 of your stanza.

Complete the phrases in lines 2, 4, and 6.

The very last line of the poem is another anagram.

Hint: check out the parameters for advanced search.  The word I chose,  perturbations, had an overwhelmingly large number of anagrams, so I first generated the word list  — simply a list of all the words that can be generated from Perturbations. There were over 1400 of them. Then I picked a few,  and went back to the advanced options, inserting the word I picked and generating all the anagrams with that word.

Here are some of the anagrams I liked — some of them made it into my poem:

Spurn Abettor I
Spurn beat riot
Obstinate Purr
Protuberant Is
Interrupt Boas
Abrupt Stonier
Abrupt Orients
Parson tribute
Repair Buttons
Uproars bitten
Bare tint pours
A Burrito Spent
Bare Iron Putts
Barter tin opus
Boater tips urn

and here are some of the words:

Protuberant
Interrupts
Reputation
Stationer
Terrapins
Abruptest
Obstinate
Transpire
Rapturise
Interrupt
Baritones
Printouts
Prostrate
Patronise
Restraint
Unbaptise
Atropines
Transport
Eruptions
Serration
Portraits
Patterns
Superior
Urinates
Trustier
Nitrates
Eruption
Portrait
Abettors
Transept
Portents
Patients
Notarise
Strainer
Tarriest
Anterior
Pertains
Puritans
Baronies
Snottier
Straiten
Subpoena
Unripest
Urbanest
Raptures
Robuster
Unpraise
Reprints
Petunias

Here is my Aragman

Perturbations

Typdom, Buchstabenspiel in Kreuzwortmanier, al...

Typdom, Buchstabenspiel in Kreuzwortmanier, alte Ausgabe von etwa 1930 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uproars bitten
create havoc
Top Sun Arbiter
taken in custody
Repairs button
torn in riot

Bare iron puts
dent in car
Boater tips urn
douses new mayor
Urban spite tore
our city apart

I spurn abettor

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Focus on Form: Aragman

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, each of us Muselings will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog. 

Aragman

Aragman (pronounced “a rag man”) is a fairly new form, created by Sal Buttaci in 2005. All poetry forms have to start somewhere! I’m not sure where I first heard about this style, but the notes for it have been sitting in my poetry folder for years now. I figured this would be an ideal time to pull it out and try something new.

Rules

The poem consists of six-line stanzas, ending with a stand alone line.

The concept centers around anagrams (“aragman” is, in fact, an anagram of “anagram”). Here are the rules, as set by Buttaci:

  1. First of all, begin with a word or two, perhaps your first name or first and last name. Settle on a word or two with not too many letters.
  2.  After you settle on a word, go to the internet site http://Wordsmith.org/anagram
  3. Type in your word and click on “Get Anagrams.” Instantly, you will be provided with all the words that use the letters of your chosen word.
  4. Copy/paste all the words that are derived from your chosen word and carry it over to your Microsoft Word screen, give the file a name, and save it.
  5. Now take a look at each of the anagrams and decide on a few for your aragman. You will need three for each six-line stanza. From the list select those anagrams that can be woven into your poem.
  6. In each stanza, odd-numbered lines 1, 3, and 5 are different anagrams from your list. If it’s possible, restrict each anagram on these lines to the same number of syllables. Make these anagram lines darker than the others. Even-numbered lines 2, 4, and 6 are completions of corresponding anagram lines 1, 3, and 5. If possible, let these completion lines also conform to the same number of syllables.
  7. The poem’s last line stands alone, after the stanzas, and it is one more anagram line.

The trick for this is finding a good phrase or word that will produce enough workable anagrams. Have fun trying different word combinations until you find something you like.

Examples

Here are a few stanzas from Buttaci’s original poem, based off his first name:

SENDING SALVATORE SOME ANAGRAMS

A slaver to
the labor of wordplay
A travel so
vicariously thrilling
A vast lore
from which to dabble

Altas over
a hefting of strong words
A rave slot
machine to pull down poems
Area volts
zapped in poetic lines

Tear salvo
from the broken-hearted
Tears oval
and wet flow down faces
Alas, voter!
it’s time to add your name to

Art as love 

© 2005 Salvatore Buttaci

And here is my own poem. For my first attempt, I decided to make a tribute to this group:

MUSELINGS

Mingles us
in lingering chats
Less in mug
as we drink, think
In sums gel
the words we play

Lines smug
from much revision
Single sum
we come together
Smile sung
our words do ring

El Musings

Your Turn

Now I open it up to you. I welcome any feedback on my poem, as long as it is constructive and not destructive. Let’s help each other improve.

I’d love to see your own attempts at the form as well. You can post them in the comments here, on future posts, or link to your poem if it’s on a separate site. I hope you have fun with the Aragman.

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