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1. Monday Poetry Stretch - 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.
You can read more about this form and its variants at Poetry Form - The Lai. You can read an example at The Poet's Garret.

So, the challenge for the week is to write a lai. Won't you join us? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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2. Poetry Friday - The Box Marked Summer

As I hit the road today to enjoy one final weekend of summer and a BIG birthday (tomorrow!), I'm well into back-to-school mode as I watch my son desperately hang onto the last few days before he begins the adventure known as high school.

Today I'm sharing a poem by Bobbi Katz.

What Shall I Pack in the Box Marked "Summer"? 
by Bobbi Katz 
found in A Chorus of Cultures: Developing Literacy Through Multicultural Poetry (p. 238)

A handful of wind that I caught with a kite
A firefly’s flame in the dark of the night
The green grass of June that I tasted with toes
The flowers I knew from the tip of my nose
The clink of ice cubes in pink lemonade
The fourth of July Independence parade!
The sizzle of hot dogs, the fizzle of coke
Some pickles and mustard and barbecue smoke
The print of my fist in the palm of my mitt,
As I watched for the batter to strike out or hit
The splash of the water, the top-to-toe cool
Of a stretch-and-kick trip through a blue swimming pool
The tangle of night songs that slipped through my screen
Of crickets and insects too small to be seen
The seed pods that formed on the flowers to say
That Summer was packing her treasures away.

Poem ©Bobbi Katz. All rights reserved.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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3. Monday Poetry Stretch - Lune

One can find many variations on haiku these days. Often these forms attempt to find a syllabic pattern that is more appropriate to English than Japanese. Today's poetry stretch takes the form of one of these variations.
The lune is a haiku variation invented and named by poet Robert Kelly. The lune, so called because of how the right edge is bowed like a crescent moon, is a thirteen syllable form arranged in three lines of 5 / 3/ 5 respectively.
(Adapted from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
You can try your hand at writing an instant lune or learn more about the form at Poetic Asides.

I wrote these lunes to get us started.
Lune #1
wings beating, whirring
hovering
sipping sweet nectar

Can you guess what I was watching when I wrote this?

Lune #2
watermelon days
rush headlong
toward pencils, books, desks

I suppose none of us can escape this one. I, for one, can't wait!

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a lune. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments. 

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4. Poetry Friday - End of Summer

I'm sad to report that summer has officially been over for me for at least two weeks. However, that melancholy is always replaced by the joy of welcoming new students. 

Today I'm sharing a poem by Stanley Kunitz.

End of Summer
by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.



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

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5. Monday Poetry Stretch - Décima

The following description comes from my April 2015 interview with Margarita Engle.

The décima is a rhymed, metered poem that most commonly has ten eight-syllable lines in a rhyme pattern abba aa abba.

Here's an example.

BIRD PEOPLE
by Margarita Engle

In a time when people were stars
in deep, hidden caves of the sea,
a fisherman ventured so far
that a hole in the cave set him free.

He burst from the cave up to sky
and reached the bold shimmer of light.
No longer a man who could cry,
he was silent until darkest night.

Then the song that flew from his heart
was the sweetest song ever heard,
a melody about the start
of life as a winged, singing bird!

Poem ©Margarita Engle, 2015. All rights reserved.

In this poem, Margarita used twelve lines with a rhyme pattern abab  cdcd  efef. As she said, "Changing a décima is perfectly acceptable!  When they’re used as the lyrics of rumba songs, they are often improvised."

You can learn more about the décima at NBCLatino.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a décima. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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6. #pb10for10 - Books to Begin My Semester

I've been working these last few weeks on preparing my syllabi for fall classes. Here are the books I'll be sharing the first week of the semester with my preservice teachers in my math and science classes.

Science
During the first week we explore the nature of science and the work of scientists.
What is Science?, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa

What is a Scientist?, written by Barbara Lehn with photographs by Carol Krauss

Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!, written by Kathleen Kudlinski and illustrated by S.D. Schindler

11 Experiments That Failed, written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Lives of the Scientists: Experiments, Explosions (and What the Neighbors Thought), written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt 



Math
During the first week we discuss how math is used in our daily lives and we jump right in and solve problems. 
Math Curse, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith

Missing Math: A Number Mystery, written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy

  
Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour

 
Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack

The Grapes of Math, written by Greg Tan and illustrated by Harry Briggs

You can check out the other folks participating at the Picture Book 10 for 10 community.

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7. Monday Poetry Stretch - Nonet

The nonet is a nine line poem with a diminishing number of syllables in each line. The first line containing nine syllables, the next eight, the next seven, and so on. This pattern continues until the last line (the ninth line) has only one syllable.

There is no rhyme requirement and nonets can be written about any subject.

You can read more about this form and see a few examples at Write Tribe.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a nonet. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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8. Poetry Seven Write Classified Ad-Haiku

Last month I believed that writing in the style of e.e. cummings was our hardest challenge. I take it back. THIS was the hardest challenge. Sometimes I find shorter forms more difficult than longer ones, and we've written to some challenging forms this year, including villanelles, sestins, raccontinos, and pantoums. So really, you'd think haiku would be a piece of cake.

But honestly, I think haiku are really hard to write. Seems ridiculous, doesn't it? But if you follow the rules (and there are lots of them), writing haiku in the spirit intended requires patience, a keen eye, and skill. Here is the formal definition of haiku and some notes about the form provided by the Haiku Society of America.
haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. 
Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest, though today's poets use a variety of line lengths and arrangements. In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen "sounds" (on) arranged five, seven, and five. (Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about twelve syllables in English approximates the duration of seventeen Japanese on.) Traditional Japanese haiku include a "season word" (kigo), a word or phrase that helps identify the season of the experience recorded in the poem, and a "cutting word" (kireji), a sort of spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem. In English, season words are sometimes omitted, but the original focus on experience captured in clear images continues. The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas (Japanese rensô). Punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break may substitute for a cutting word. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. (Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently. 
See, that's a lot to keep in mind for such a short poem. Perhaps that's why great haiku pack such a punch.

Never a group to do things the easy way, we added to the challenge of writing haiku by requiring that we use the form to write classified ads. And what a challenge it was! I wrote numerous pieces, most of which fell into the category of senryu.

Senryu is a Japanese poetic form similar in structure to haiku. Instead of focusing on nature and the essence of a particular moment as haiku do, senryu are concerned with human nature, political issues, and satire. While one is usually quite serious, the other is more playful. 

Here is how the Haiku Society of America defines senryu.
A senryu is a poem, structurally similar to haiku, that highlights the foibles of human nature, usually in a humorous or satiric way.
The 13th Floor Paradigm has this nice bit of history and other information on senryu.
The Senryu came into existence as an independent genre in the Edo Period (1718-1790). It is often satirical, ironical, irreverent, mundane, cynical and is about human nature, therefore about human foibles including the erotic.  It has the same form of the Haiku, but doesn’t use a seasonal word (kigo) and it doesn’t have a cutting word (keiriji)  (in reality, in English we have no direct equivalents to the keiriji, so we use what’s called a cutting phrase.) 
It would be wrong to think that Senryu is always humorous.  In fact, a Senryu could talk about divorce, sex, murder, war, jealousy, cruelty…in a word every day-to-day events in human society.
Alright, it's time to set this rambling introduction aside. I'm generally on the ball with these challenges, but this time around I wrote just over 20 poems in one day -- YESTERDAY! Here are my 3 favorite drafts.


Seasonal workers
needed - Wear boots, bring shovels
Buffalo in May

*****

Seeking teen to teach
hip old  guy to surf, tweet, blog …
once the damn thing's on

*****

Kicka$$ girl seeks boy
for whirlwind romance, mating—
head loss optional

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.


You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

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! 

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9. Monday Poetry Stretch - Timeline Poem

So, this isn't really a form, but I can't think of any other way to describe this. I have a number of books I regularly use for inspiration and guidance as I write poetry. One of these books is A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching From Poems We Love, written by Nick Flynn and Shirley McPhillips. In the chapter on list poems (the chapter that gives the book its title) is this example.

Ducks
by Homero Aridjis

1
On cold mornings the ducks
slide across the ice
after the dry bread
thrown to them by the little girl

2
In the afternoon
the hungry ducks
cross the street
against the traffic

3
At night the ducks
nestle beside the frozen canal
they scarcely move
their green heads

4
At dawn the ducks
sleep beneath the mist
which cover the man
the dog and the stone alike


Though ostensibly a list poem, I love the arrangement of this series of moments in time, hence my term "timeline" poem. Your challenge this week is to write a poem that describes a series of events over some span of time. I hope you'll join me this week in writing a timeline poem. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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10. Monday Poetry Stretch - Sedoka

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. We've had family in town since Friday and I forgot to schedule this, so I am a day late.

Continuing on the theme of Japanese poetic forms, the sedoka is an unrhymed poem made up of a pair of katauta. A katuata is a three-line poem with the syllable count of 5 / 7 / 7. Generally a sedoka addresses the same subject from different perspectives.

You can read more about the sedoka at Encyclopedia Brittanica.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a sedoka (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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11. Monday Poetry Stretch - Dodoitsu

Dodoitsu is a Japanese poetic form. Similar to other Japanese forms, it does not rhyme and is not focused on meter, but rather on syllables. 

Dodoitsu is a 4-line poem with a syllable count of 7 / 7 / 7 / 5. Generally the subject of these poems is love or work. They also often contain a bit of humor.  

You can read more about this form and see a few examples at Poetic Asides.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a dodoitsu (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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12. Poetry Friday - Roma Aeterna

We left last Friday to visit family in NY. Our trip up should have taken just over 5 hours by plane, but it turned into a 15+ hour odyssey. We did finally make it and had a wonderful 6 days. On our last day in Rochester, we made a short visit to Mount Hope Cemetery. I visited once in high school (many moons ago) and knew the graves of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were there. However, on this visit I learned that someone appropriate to the Poetry Friday set was here as well.
 
In honor of Adelaide Crapsey, here is a cinquain of hers.

Roma Aeterna

The sun
Is warm to-day,
O Romulus, and on
Thine olden Palatine the birds
Still sing.


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

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13. Monday Poetry Stretch - Ae freslighe

Ae freslighe (ay fresh lee) is an Irish poetic form. Each stanza is a quatrain with lines of seven syllables. The rhyme scheme is a b a b. In forming rhymes, the end rhyme in lines one and three is three syllables, while the end rhyme in lines two and four is two syllables. Finally, Irish poetry is cyclic, so the poem should end with the first word or entire first line.

Here's what the poem form looks like.

x x x x (x x a)
x x x x x (x b)
x x x x (x x a)
x x x x x (x b)

You can read more about this form at The Poets Garret and Creative Bloomings.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing an Ae freslighe (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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14. Poetry Seven Write "in the style of" - e.e. cummings

This month the poetry seven were tasked with writing poems "in the style of." We had quite a bit of discussion about what this meant before we ever got off the ground. When we settled on e.e. cummings I was terrified, and that's putting it mildly. While I may eschew punctuation and capitalization in my poems, I don't usually play with them in the manner of cummings.

Okay, confession time. I have always disliked the poetry of e.e. cummings. There, I said it. His poems have always made me feel dumb. I just don't get them, and (I say this rather immodestly, but I'm a pretty smart cookie), when I don't get the gist, I get frustrated. Perhaps I never read cummings widely enough, but after struggling with a few of his poems, I gave up, never to return to him again.

Enter this month's writing project. As the poet of the style of choice, I jumped into reading cummings again. I'll admit I still don't get most of his stuff, but I did find some pretty amazing pieces. I floundered for quite a while with different topics, but after the shootings in Charleston I knew I needed to write about it. I try not to write when I'm emotional, as the poems tend to come from a dark place. My first drafts were very dark and darn depressing. They needed something more, but I didn't know what that was. On the Sunday following the shootings, the homily focused on embracing hope and rejecting despair. In thinking about Father Jim's words, I realized exactly what my poem was missing, and so my single poem became a pair.

hatred and hope - a pair of poems in the style of e.e. cummings
(written in the wake of the Emanuel AME shootings)

hatred

is.
one
cold heart

looking
kindness
open arms--
genuine love

(in the eyes)

and
firing
a
gun

againandagainandagain

hope

is.
hearts

battered
broken
againandagainandagain

un
yielding
to despair

forgiving
fighting
(believing-believing-believing)

in their
phoenix
rising

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.


One of our esteemed members (Andi!) suggested we record our poems this time around. I'm not sure I've captured the emotions I was experiencing as I wrote these, but I'll leave that for you to decide. 

Now that you've read and heard my poems, here is the e.e. cummings' poem I chose to emulate. 

silence

.is
a
looking

bird:the

turn
ing;edge,of
life

(inquiry before snow


To date, this has been the most difficult challenge for me. I am most grateful to the group this month for leading me to cummings as I've never known him. You can read and listen to the fabulous "in the style of" poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

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

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15. Jumping Into Form - Interview with Bob Raczka

National Poetry Month is long over, but I believe in poetry EVERY day and still have forms and interviews to share. So without further ado, another wonderful poet weighs in on form.

* * * * *


Today I'm sharing the thoughts of Bob Raczka, author of numerous books about art and art history, the seasons, as well as poetry. Recent poetry titles include Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge (2015), Santa Clauses: Short Poems From the North Pole (2014), Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word (2011), and Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys (2010). I'm looking forward to a new book coming out in 2016 entitled Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems.
 
How do you begin a poem? Or, how does a poem begin for you — with an idea, a form, an image, or something else?
Bob: I usually (but not always) start with the form. And it helps to have a theme in mind. For example, my book Santa Clauses consists of 25 haiku “written” by Santa. Haiku are about nature, so when I started writing, I thought about things in nature that are unique to the North Pole, and that might make an impression on Santa. Pretty soon, I was writing poems about the northern lights, reindeer and snow hares.


How do you choose the form of your poems?
Bob: Most of the time I’m inspired by other poems. For example, I just finished a manuscript of 20 poems that I’m calling “skinny sonnets”. The form is based on a 14-word sonnet written by a poet named Frank Sidgwick in 1921. His abbreviated sonnet is called The Aeronaut to His Lady, and once I read it, I knew I had to try one for myself. The same thing happened with my book Lemonade, which was inspired by an anagram-like poem called rain by a poet named Andrew Russ.


Are there any forms you haven't tried but would like to? Why or why not?
Bob: There are many forms I haven’t tried. I tend to gravitate toward shorter forms like haiku, cinquains, clerihews and limericks. I find them easier to wrap my head around. Call me a minimalist. I also don’t have a lot of time to write poetry with my day job in advertising, so the shorter forms work well with my schedule. That’s not to say that short forms are easy, or that I don’t rewrite my short poems many, many times. I do love the fact that you can say so much, and be so clever, with so few words.


What tools (rhyming dictionary, book of forms, etc.) do you use in writing poetry (if any)?  
Bob: I love my rhyming dictionary. It’s paperback and the edges are well-worn from all of my quick-flipping back and forth. I also have quite a collection of poetry books for inspiration, mostly adult poets. Some are anthologies, others are by individual poets. One book that I return to again and again is Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston.


What would you like students or children to know about poetry?
Bob: First, poetry is about playing with words. So if you like playing with words, or seeing how other people play with words, chances are you’ll like reading and writing poetry. Second, don’t expect to like—or even understand—every poem you read. Poems are like books, and poets are like authors: you’ll like some more than you like others. Third, reading poems is a great way to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. I like to read a handful of nature poems before I go to bed. It makes me feel good and helps relieve any stress I may be feeling.


Finally, one of your esteemed colleagues suggested I ask for a poem in a foreign verse form. Would you be willing to share a poem for this project?
Bob: 

I reach for firefly’s
flicker, but all I catch is
a handful of dark.

Poem ©Bob Raczka, 2015. All rights reserved.


A million thanks to Bob for participating in my Jumping Into Form interview and for waiting ever so patiently for it to post.

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16. Monday Poetry Stretch - Cinquain

My apologies to my fellow writers who have come around looking for stretches. I just spent two amazing weeks with a group of teachers and thought of little beyond math, math, and more math.

Poetry relies on a great deal of math, from rhyme scheme (patterns) to counting syllables to forms that are based on mathematical sequences (Fibonacci numbers). Today I've selected a form that generally relies on syllable counting.

*****
Poets.org defines the cinquain in this fashion.

The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Examples of cinquains can be found in many European languages, and the origin of the form dates back to medieval French poetry. 
The most common cinquains in English follow a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab or abccb. 
I'll admit that the first part of this definition was unfamiliar to me. It was only this second part that I recognized.
Adelaide Crapsey, an early twentieth-century poet, used a form of 22 syllables distributed among the five lines in a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 pattern, respectively. Her poems share a similarity with the Japanese tanka, another five-line form, in their focus on imagery and the natural world.
This is the form that is taught in schools alongside haiku and diamante, though I'm not fond of the didactic approach generally taken, which consists of listing words related to a topic (adjectives, action verbs, etc.) .

If you are looking for some guidance, Kenn Nesbitt has a nice page on how to write a cinquain.

For a bit of inspiration, here's one of my favorite poems by Adelaide Crapsey.

Niagara, Seen on a Night in November

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.


I hope you'll join me this week in writing a cinquain (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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17. Poetry Friday - Monotone

I've been reading Sandburg the last few weeks, so today I'm sharing a poem I can't seem to get out of my mind.

Monotone
by Carl Sandburg

The monotone of the rain is beautiful,
And the sudden rise and slow relapse
Of the long multitudinous rain.

The sun on the hills is beautiful,
Or a captured sunset sea-flung,
Bannered with fire and gold.

A face I know is beautiful—
With fire and gold of sky and sea,
And the peace of long warm rain.


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

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18. Monday Poetry Stretch - Rondel

The rondel is a French verse form. It consists of 13 lines in 3 stanzas and contains two refrains (repeated lines). The rhyme scheme is below. The uppercase letters represent the refrains.

A B b a
a b A B
a b b a A

Rondels are usually written in lines of 8 syllables.

The Poetry Foundation defines it a bit differently. Here is their definition.

Rondel (roundel)
A poetic form of 11 to 14 lines consisting of two rhymes and the repetition of the first two lines in the middle of the poem and at its end. Algernon Charles Swinburne’s poem entitled The Roundel is 11 lines in two stanzas.

Whichever form you use, I hope you will join me this week in writing a rondel. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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19. Monday Poetry Stretch - Chueh-chu

Forgive me for being a bit late today. I normally write these posts on the weekend, but this one was filled with graduation activities. So, after a day of meetings, my 21st year at the university comes to a close and I finally have some time to call my own ... until summer school starts next week. Well, enough about me, let's get on with this week's stretch!

I am still reading and pondering the forms in Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing: A Comprehensive Guide to Verse Forms and Metres from Around the WorldHere is the poem Skelton wrote for this form and his explanation of the Chueh-chu.

Full moon:
     a white light
 carves shade:
     the warm night,
dream tamed,
     fears the dawn's
hard noise,
     the sun's bright

trees green
     not pearled gray,
walls grey
     not bleached white,
mind trapped
     as time's dream
feels time
     and takes flight.

The name Chueh-chu means, literally, "sonnet cut short." ... It consists of eight lines with the rhyme scheme A A B A   C A D A or the rhyme scheme A B C B   D B E B. A further variation is A A B A   A A C A.    
This example is in the Wu-yen-shih metre, which consists of five monosyllable lines with a caesura after the second syllable. Each syllable is a complete word. 

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form Chueh-chu. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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20. Monday Poetry Stretch - Abandoned Barn

On a drive in a rural county this week I saw several abandoned buildings. Those sights got me thinking about this week's writing prompt. I don't often use photos for stretches, largely because Laura has been doing this for years so fabulously with her 15 Words or Less prompt.

However, I couldn't get those images out of my mind, so this week I offer a photo as a prompt. I won't hold you to a word count or form, so feel free to explore.

If you are interested in photos to inspire your poetry, check out the book Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing by Laura Purdie Salas.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem for this photo. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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21. Poetry Friday - Lures

Hello friends! I've been absent with the start of summer school and wrapping up the academic year here. It's good to be back. Be sure to visit on Monday when I'll be back with some new poetry stretches.

Today I'm sharing a poem that reminds me of summer growing up, home, and old friends.

Lures
by Adam Vines

For Scott Harris

Last summer’s fishing failures dangled from trees:
a Rapala and Jitterbug a stand
of privet paid for, half-ounce jigs with rubber skirts
and jelly worms with wide-gap hooks on ten-pound test
we tithed with overzealous casts at bass.
Then off we’d go (our stringers bare) to find
a yard to cut, a truck to wash, so we could fill
the tackle box we shared again. Today
is 12/12/12, the Mayan end, and I,
a country boy in Brooklyn for the week,
will hail a cab for the first time and think
of cows unnerved by fish we missed
and shouts of “shit” that followed, and dawns to dusks
and always back with you, my childhood friend.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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22. Monday Poetry Stretch - Rhupunt

I am still reading and pondering the forms in Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing: A Comprehensive Guide to Verse Forms and Metres from Around the World. The Rhupunt is a Welsh verse form. Lines are 4 syllables long, with the last line rhyming with the last line of the following stanza. Stanzas may be 3, 4, or 5 lines long. Here is the pattern for these versions.

3-line


x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

4-line
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

5-line
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

Since the lines in each stanza are generally thought to be portions of a long line, they are sometimes presented as a couplet with lines of 12 to 20 syllables. Written this way the rhupunt would look like this:
x x x A x x x A x x x A x x x B
x x x C x x x C x x x C x x x B

You can read more about the rhupunt at The Poets Garret.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form rhupunt. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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23. Poetry Seven Share Odes

During the month of May the Poetry Seven spent their time working on odes. After much discussion of form, we decided that a bit of humor was in order. Beyond that, there were no rules, no subjects, and no limits.

This is where I'll admit I had a hard time with this. I was the kid in school who hated free writing. I stared at the page wondering what to write about. However, if I was given a topic, writing was easy. Form does that for me. When I have constraints, I find getting underway a bit easier. So for me, free verse is tough. And no theme meant I found myself in the same space I so often inhabited in high school English class, staring at the blank page wondering what the heck I was doing.

Inspiration eventually came from the strangest of places ... a visit to a port-a-potty. I'll let the poem tell the rest of the story.

Ode to Where My Backside's Been

To all the toilets that have been
privy to another side of me
from the port-a-potties I have
hovered over
     one hand holding my nose
     while the other finds purchase on the wall
to the heads on rolling ships
to the Amtrak bowls spouting blue water
and the tightly confined closets at 10,000 feet

To the padded seat my mother thought
was a good idea … it wasn’t
     a great whoosh of air escaped when you sat on it
     and in the heat of summer you stuck to it
to the myriad of public toilets I’ve run from
only to realize when traveling abroad
just how good we pampered Americans have it

From the loosely constructed,
half-walled stalls placed over a trough
running the length of the “Ladies” room at the
base of the Potala Palace
     an unavoidable stop before climbing all those steps
to the holes in the floor with footprints on either side
to the basins with no seats at all

I salute you all for your service
but you pale in comparison to
the water closet at Narita airport
whereupon entering the stall
     quiet music played
     water trickled into the bowl
and the heated seat … yes, I sat on it!
offered comfort and relief after a 15 hour flight

I still dream of that toilet in Tokyo
would even brave another trans-Pacific trip
to rest my weary behind
and perhaps, take a selfie
to begin a photographic ode
to the commode

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the fabulous poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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24. Monday Poetry Stretch - Sapphic Stanza

The Sapphic stanza is composed of 4 lines, the first three lines consisting of 11 syllables, the last line of 5 syllables. The long lines are called hendecasyllabics, while the short line is called adonic. In their writing, the Greeks focused on long and short vowel sounds, today we focus on meter. Here is what the lines look like.

1 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
2 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
3 - two trochees, a dactyl, two trochees
4 - one dactyl, one trochee

What does this mean? 

A trochee has two beats in the pattern stressed/unstressed, such as in words like happy, double, and planet. It is noted as / u.

A dactyl has three beats in the pattern stressed/unstressed/unstressed, such as in words like carefully, tenderly, and buffalo. It is note as / u u.

So using this notation, here's what a Sapphic stanza looks like metrically.

1 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
2 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
3 - / u / u / u  u / u / u
4 - / u u / u 

Originally, these stanzas were not rhymed, but in the Middle Ages they sometimes acquired the rhyme scheme abab. 

Phew! That's a lot to remember. For more information, Poetry Magnum Opus has a terrific overview of the form and its changes through time. You can read some examples and learn more about the form in the the piece On Form: Rachel Wetzsteon.

Here's an example by the poet Sara Teasdale.

The Lamp 
If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.


I hope you'll join me this week in writing a rhymed or unrhymed Sapphic stanza or two. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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25. Poetry Friday - The Broad Bean Sermon

Today I'm thinking of gardens and summer and sharing a poem I came across while reading The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. This poem was in the chapter on the pastoral and I can't seem to get it out of my mind. That's always a good indication that I've come across a poem I need to share.

The Broad Bean Sermon
by Les Murray

Beanstalks, in any breeze, are a slack church parade
without belief, saying trespass against us in unison,
recruits in mint Air Force dacron, with unbuttoned leaves.

Upright with water like men, square in stem-section
they grow to great lengths, drink rain, keel over all ways,
kink down and grow up afresh, with proffered new greenstuff.

Above the cat-and-mouse floor of a thin bean forest
snails hang rapt in their food, ants hurry through Escher's three worlds,
spiders tense and sag like little black flags in their cordage.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup.. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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