Today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to use a movie quote in a poem. Mish provided a list to choose from. When I saw “It’s alive! It’s alive!” from Frankenstein (1931), the repetition reminded me of a poetry form. I looked back through my poems from last OctPoWriMo and found it in my post from October 6, 2020 Following Desire. The form is Monotetra.
The instructions for the Monotetra are a little confusing because it talks about number of feet and also number of syllables. If you look at my poem in that post, “Desire is the ear at the curtain,” I was counting syllables (eight), and rhyming, but wasn’t paying attention to meter. The instructions for the Monotetra form assume a poetic metrical foot to have two syllables, but a poetic foot can have more than two syllables: like the dactyl (stressed, unstressed, unstressed) I used in my last post, and the anapest (unstressed, unstressed, stressed) which is how I read “It’s alive!”
Since I want to play with anapestic meter instead of 8 syllables this will be an alternate form of a Monotetra. It will still be made of rhyming quatrains, and the fourth line will repeat, but each line will be in anapestic dimeter.
When a song with a drive brings the bees to the hive and the throng into thrive “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
like a wrong she deprives and with love to connive and belong she can strive Hope’s alive! It’s alive!
on the path to revive when the depth of the dive meets the wrath she archived Hope’s alive! It’s alive!
like a storm will arrive hear the clap, count to five stay informed to survive “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
dance to the, dance to the music of Chopin and waltz with me, waltz with me round a nice fantasy keep up appearances sentimentalities backhanded compliments blacking out promises
dance with me, dance with me turning me endlessly waltz to the, waltz to the mockingbird murmuring visitors’ vanities blushing with jealousy echoing, echoing over the wonderful fantasy
Today’s Meet the bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to take a look at the waltz. I took this as inspiration to attempt a poem in dactylic meter. Dactyls are feet that are three syllables with the first syllable stressed, or long short short like a waltz.
Looking over my favorite lines from my two upside-down poems in the last post, I started noticing some interesting, slightly altered repetition. But before we jump into the next round of drafts which will get us looking at rhythm and rhyme, I want to share something fun I found.
Poemage is a visual close-reading tool developed at the University of Utah for exploring the interaction of sonic patterns in poetry. I downloaded the free beta version, saved my poem draft as a .txt file and put it in the program’s poems file. Here is the Poemage analysis of my draft as it is now.
Having only begun to play with this tool, I can see how it will be useful during redrafting. Here’s the analysis of the vowel slant rhymes in my poem.
I started looking at the purple “EY” words and enjoy how they sound together:
embrace decay, vacated frame remains, erasable spaces may flavor irritation.
That’s a poem right there. Let’s look at light green “EH”:
stepping where refreshment telescopes impression let dress arrest empty heads tent indelible contentment
Not as easily a poem, but I can imagine those words in some interesting rhymes.
Force into form
At the end of demonstration four I talked about the four forms I chose for this demonstration: Trolaan, Synchronicity, Ottava Rima, and Nove Otto. I like using RhymeZone to explore my rhyming options. Let’s get started.
Trolaan This form is made of four quatrains (stanza of four lines) with an abab rhyme scheme. There is also a rule about the first letter of each line of each stanza. I’m going to play with the slant rhymes I identified above instead of exact rhymes for this one.
Body Wriggles an Empty Head
An impression arrests all fruit flies in frame after dizzying dress a spiral of space
No contentment embraces nor kitchen sinks emptied nourish erasable remains or navigate pinky-toe stepping
Obscured by crackling and smoke over the permeating decay onward desire in motion opening curious spaces vacated
Beneath the tent of solitude body wriggles an empty head bone bending, not breaking, ensued both imagination and flavor fed
Synchronicity This form has eight three line stanzas with the syllable count 8/8/2. It is written in first person and has a “twist” in the last two stanzas.
Flavorless Glue and Lost Scissors
cracked, speckled, broken window pane a sudden impression alerts arrests
kitchen sinks full of ideas frozen in mid-irritation stillness
like tinnitus introducing dizzying, swirling vertigo I fall
my view telescopes to his sweat on her body behind the bale the source
flavorless glue and lost scissors leave me hungry, full of desire stagnant
juggled stomach stones clack and click what marks will topple to my tongue? undone
clean of any sticky coating the bridge burner can’t turn around no choice
under the tent of solitude refreshment wriggles in the dark tunnels
Ottava Rima This form has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is written in 8 line octives. Each line has 10 or 11 syllables and follows the rhyme scheme abababcc
Before stuck by pins
An impression arrests the fruit flies in kitchen sinks full of imagination frozen in mid-irritation we spin insatiable hunger sketches impressions of furious flight before stuck by pins curious spaces for contemplation what indelible marks will come tumbling to the tongue when the stomach is rumbling?
Contentment empties the glue of flavor and steals the lost scissors of sharp-edged blades leaping from dizzy existence, I waver with nothing I’ve left, clean of sticky trades refreshment wriggles under the tent savored where scraping, not smoothing, may nourish new shades having abandoned the house to fruit flies in dark fresh-earth tunnels I find thought alive
Nove Otto This form also has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is a nine line poem. Each line has 8 syllables. The rhyme scheme is aacbbcddc
It all happened so fast
cracked, speckled, broken window pane fruit flies frozen over the drain what marks will topple to my tongue who knows what hateful things I’ll say now seeing through our loves decay the vertigo of years undone obscured by fire’s crackle and smoke his touch erased by rains first soak to dreams of solitude I run
Revise for Meter
I found more great resources and tools that led me to some more redrafting ideas. First, there are two free poetry MOOC Packs from The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program: How Writers Write Poetry and How Writers Write Poetry II. In Class 5 of How Writers Write Poetry, poets Richard Kenney and Bill Trowbridge present Meter, Prosody, and Scansion in fun and interesting ways. I like how Mr. Trowbridge demonstrates how different types of feet are used to emphasize an image, a metaphor and/or an emotion.
Here’s a chart of the different poetic feet
This led me to another redrafting idea. In the book The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (Yes, the British comedian), Stephen really breaks down poetic meter with tons of examples, starting with the iamb, of course. I took up his challenge to write lines of iambic pentameter and gave a redraft of my poem in iambic pentameter a try. Here’s what I came up with.
She dreams a tent of solitude tonight a thought arrests the flies in dirty sinks I let my arms and dress fly overhead my pinky toe the point to hold the ground my view becomes his hands behind the bale a source of wafting filth, our love’s decay
content I stale, my life has lost all taste he steals my time, my art has gone to waste desire’s the buzz and itch to make me move a rumble sounds, my constant hunger stays the tongue now free, what hateful words to say the bridges burn, can’t choose to turn around
Then I found something very fun. Charles Hartman at Connecticut College created a program called Scandroid. I downloaded the free program and typed my attempt at iambic pentameter above into it. Here are the results:
How fun is that!!
This post alone opens a world of never-ending re-drafting possibilities. I can see that part of the revision plan during the review will include picking and choosing which redrafting techniques might work best for a certain poem. However, for this exploration of my process, I can see the effect of every step. The next, and final, step I’ll take in the redrafting phase of this poem’s revision is to emulate poems and poets, but I’ll save that for the next post.