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Welcome to another installment of Write After Reading: Writing the Life Poetic, a  weekly online book club with poetry participation. It alternates between my blog and Laura's blog. Last week, over at Laura's blog, we talked about chapter 58 and writing the Zeitgist. Today I picked chapter 63, Taking Shape, Experimenting with Poetic Forms.

This chapter talks briefly about how the constraints of a form can actually improve your poetry or at least lead you down some interesting paths. Though I haven't yet devoted the time to mastering some of the longer forms I do agree that having that structure often helps me focus my poetic attention in much the same way that we found when we did the Mad Libs.

Here's an online source with easy explanations of the forms of verse - Poetry Handbook.

I opted to go for haiku since I'm writing this late at night after a crazy-making day but I hope to come back tomorrow and try some other forms as well.

sleeping dog whimpers
chases squirrel shadows, barks
hunter triumphant

one week, no flour, sugar
bad habits need undoing
how will I survive?

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 32 comments — Leave comment )
June 15th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC)
ellie wrote
What I love about hiaku is how complete a picture you can make in so few words. I can see the dog sleeping, barking, even twitching.

And your second haiku seems as if you are watching me. No matter how carefully I make my grocery list, I always come home without something.

June 15th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
Re: ellie wrote
Thanks, ellie. I know haiku are supposed to be about nature and with a "twist" at the the end but I didn't quite have the energy last night. :)

The no flour, no sugar is supposed to be my diet for the next week. I can't imagine how I am going to survive it. Ugh!
Re: ellie wrote - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ellie wrote - susanwrites - June 16th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
June 15th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC)
ellie again
Since most/all of you all write children’s poetry, I decided to try to join in. I chose triolet as I thought the repetition might work for a lullaby.

Nighttime Triolet

When you fall asleep at night,
the stars wink in the sky
bidding goodnight, to you safe and tight,
when you fall asleep at night.

Slumber softly by moonlight.
No fears. No need to cry.
When you fall asleep at night,
the stars wink in the sky.
(Deleted comment)
Re: ellie again - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: ellie again - susanwrites - June 16th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ellie again - susanwrites - June 15th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ellie again - dorireads - June 15th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ellie again - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
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June 15th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
And knowing that the form makes me think more creatively should be reason enough to do so more often, like exercise. Alas, I don't. :)

And yeah, those blind Cambodian women (a poem in the book for those reading along) rather blew me away.
(Deleted comment)
June 15th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Laura's Acrostic - My Nonlinear Memory
Laura, I love it when you acrostics! For some reason when I first hear the word acrostic I always go back to those ones we did in grammar school with our names. Fun but not very exciting. But yours always remind me that they can be so much more.

I love the idea that a life can be like a painting with so many layers.

This is a great image:

Followed by washes of color, one for
Each day, each year, each decade.

And I love the idea that the memories are etched with India ink which is more permanent than watercolors.

I like this one a lot!

(note to self - play with acrostics)
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Re: Laura's Acrostic - My Nonlinear Memory - dorireads - June 15th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Laura's Acrostic - My Nonlinear Memory - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
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June 15th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
Laura, yes. No flour. No sugar. Doctor's orders. I'm going to be a raving brat by the end of the week. Will fill you more when we chat later.

Have I ever mentioned my strong dislike of most fruits and veggies? Bah humbug.
June 15th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Love your acrostic, Laura! And you have my sympathy, Susan. It's hard to make drastic changes to your diet. You don't want to feel deprived, though. I have gluten-free recipe suggestions if you need them.

June 15th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I'd love any and all suggestions! Thank you. You can email me at:
susantaylorbrown AT gmail DOT com

We just put together the shopping list for hubby. Ugh. So many changes.
June 15th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
I missed you all last week. I read, but just didn't have time to write. Spent a wonderful weekend with a bunch of children's poets soaking up Rebecca Kai Dotlich's poetic wisdom. What a lovely lady she is.

On your haiku. Such anguished images, Susan. I can't decide if I feel worse for the whimpering dog, the squirrel, or you and your new diet!

I don't often write in forms, but the pantoum is one that I enjoy. My pantoums don't always stay pantoums. They are generally a vehicle, as others have said, for the images the form forces to surface.

So here is my pantoum for this week. I'm still playing with a possible collection and developing voices. Setting is 18th century Russia. Voice is the younger brother. I am interested to see if my intent comes through.

Thomas -- Letter to Papa

I will endeavor to bring you joy.
I will perfect myself in all things.
I have chosen a better path than Jonas.
He’ll be a slow-witted musketeer.

I will perfect myself in all things.
I shall not consider myself wiser than others,
though I am not slow-witted and will not be a musketeer.
I strive to be at peace with all men, even Jonas.

I shall not consider myself wiser than others,
as you instruct, I will not be open-mouthed.
I strive to be at peace with all men.
I practice the viola da gamba diligently.

As you instruct, I will not be open-mouthed.
I shall play you a masterpiece when you return.
Practice the viola da gamba diligently.
Until then, Papa, I pray Father Almight preserve you.

I shall play you a masterpiece when you return.
I have chosen a better path than Jonas.
Until then, Papa, I pray Father Almighty preserve you.
I will endeavor to bring you joy.
June 15th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Sorry. A couple of typos. Next to last stanza should say "I practice" and "Father Almighty."
(no subject) - susanwrites - June 16th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
June 15th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Laura's Acrostic - My Nonlinear Memory
And you wrote it in just ten minutes...amazing janet
June 16th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
I enjoy the challenge of writing a "form" poem. When I finally get one done "right," (at least, right in my mind) it is such a feeling of accomplishment. There are so many different forms, though! Susan, thank you for posting that Poetry handbook link!

Here is one I already had written/
(my definition of aubade is : a poem greeting the dawn, since it wasn't listed in the poetry handbook.)

END OF SUMMER (aubade)

Alas, alas,
the night does pass.
Alas, alack
oh dark, come back.
Don’t let that ray
turn into day.
Twill break my heart
‘cause school will start.


June 16th, 2011 10:32 am (UTC)
Well, I posted late, and then even later I got to thinking, maybe this isn't so much a "form," as there are no rules about lines and rhyme scheme.

(Deleted comment)
Re: No worries! - susanwrites - June 16th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: No worries! - (Anonymous) - June 16th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
June 16th, 2011 10:54 am (UTC)
Okay, here's a sonnet:


“I see you're trapped inside a cage,” said cat.
“Not free to roam about the house like me.”
And thus he taunted guinea pig until
No joy was left in life that pig could see.
Pig dreamed of all the joys that would abound
If only he'd escape his prison cell.
Obsessed, attempts were made until he found
One day a latch unhooked and out he fell.
His squeals of joy brought cat upon the scene.
Pig thought they'd frolic gaily through the house.
Alas, the cat's intentions were quite mean,
For he saw pig as one big tasty mouse.
That guinea pig made haste to jump back in.
Cat won't convince him to come out again.

Cindy Breedlove, all rights reserved

(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - susanwrites - June 16th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 32 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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