Dactyls Dactyls Everywhere: not a ptero in sight.

Edward Okun – Walc Chopina (Wikimedia Commons)

Conviviality

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

At the Moulin Rouge: Two women waltzing by Toulouse-Lautrec (Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Revising Poetry-a Demonstration Part Seven: Emulate another poem or poet

Emulate another poem or poet

I picked up a copy of The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics by Diane Lockward. In the Craft Tip #3 Poem and Prompt section, she talks about “Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop” by John Murillo. This poem is based on “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. Take a look at both poems side by side.

both poems from Poetry Foundation
move the center line to the right or left

I really enjoyed this example of emulating another poem. John Murillo took the idea of learning to lose and made it his own. Lockward points out that Murillo does more than keep the theme. He uses repetition as Bishop does, repeating the many forms of “lose,” using many words that start with L, and like Bishop, he writes in imperatives as if giving directions.

So one way to emulate a poem is to write to the theme. Another is to make a list of techniques employed by the poet.

My redrafts emulating three different poems

Back in Part Four of this demonstration I announced which poems I had chosen and did some research into the poets. For this exercise, I chose Dead Stars by Ada Limón, Ode by Jane Huffman, and News by Ben Purkert.

So here’s my process for emulating a poem so far:

  • read lots of poems
  • pick a few poems I like
  • research the poets, learn about their process
  • learn about the poem

What’s next? I need to decide how emulating this poem will improve the poem I’m working on. I’m going to ask myself some questions as I read the poem again.

  • Why did I choose this poem?
  • What do I like about it?
  • What technique(s) do I want to try?
  • How will this improve my poem?


Dead Stars by Ada Limón

Ada Limón gives us a clue into her intent and feelings about “Dead Stars” in this video

Why did I choose this poem? I chose this poem because I enjoy the creative combinations of imagery. I was drawn to the mundane becoming philosophical and daring.

What do I like about it? I like the spoken words in italics (not quotes) used twice. I like the questions and what ifs that are somewhat random but make sense because we are all part of the big band, the dead stars.

What technique(s) do I want to try? She uses questions, speech, and of the senses in her details. She creates some interesting double turns/twists in the set up with: It’s almost romantic . . . until you say . . . And it’s true.

How will this improve my poem? I think this twisting language could help improve my poem. My narrator is in a dizzying, swirling, vertigo of facing facts that lead to sudden and life-changing reality, so her language dealing with it could be more twisty. Some dialogue in italics is worth giving a try as well.

Dirty Dishes

In kitchen sinks full of ideas, there’s an impression that even arrests fruit flies
Summer’s sandpaper tongue down our throats
jealousy, worry, rage all frozen mid-irritation
like tinnitus so acute it becomes a wasp nesting in your ear

I am a woodpile of ants in heat: a carpenter of denial

My view telescopes through the broken pane
to his sweat on her body behind the bale

I almost believed him as he twisted his favorite cap
until he said, A man has needs, but she’s not you

Which is true, but doesn’t mean he didn’t lie
when he said it was the last time

The dropped dish shatters like we all do

its pieces, still holdable, I toss into the trash

with my colors, light, hopes and ambition
because the glue has lost its flavor and the scissors
their artistry

Though broken, I still hunger and itch

the clicking, clacking pieces find junction. How

will I survive without? After indelible
marks topple to the tongue?

What if I can ignore and forget? What
if he says Stay. Please stay, and I cave.

I didn’t burn the curtains and the bridge?

What would happen if I left with nothing
opened, bare, clean of sticky coating

with hope of refreshment in bonding
earth nutrients growing, bonding

if I find new understanding wriggling
among the moles under the tent of solitude

will I be scraped as a plate after a feast?

Ode by Jane Huffman

Why did I choose this poem? I like the repetition and how it builds movement.

What do I like about it? The subtle changes and double meanings of words in repetitions.

What technique(s) do I want to try? The repetition of words in slight rearrangement creates the idea of smaller and larger circles while also talking about small and large circles.

How will this improve my poem? Because my poem talks about swirling and vertigo. I think I can use some of this style of repetition to get some of the spin my narrator is going through to come to life.

Chores

An impression arrests fruit flies. The fruit
flies are arrested in kitchen sinks full of
ideas. The ideas, frozen in mid-irritation
are like tinnitus introducing vertigo. I am
dizzy with vertigo. I hear buzzing. I am
spinning, spiraling, falling. I am falling.
The ground falls away and I am dropping,
my arms and my dress fly above my head
as I plummet, my pinky toe the stoical point.
The pinky toe somehow holds on. Like a pin
holding strings connecting to what got me
here, to a truth, or many truths long forgotten.
That pinky toe pointed, curled and maimed
from point-shoes leads the other toes and the
foot stepping from the spiral and though dizzy,
dizzy and disoriented I see clearly, my view
telescopes to his sweat on her body, not hidden
by the bale, the dry wasted bale that should
have sold, should have fed. I see the clarity
distorted in his drops of sweat on her younger
body as if finally finding the source of wafting,
wind-blown odor of putrid, rotting decay.
The putrid decay of our love that had swirled,
dizzyingly around until arrested by an impression,
here, now, as I stand at the kitchen sink.

News by Ben Purkert

Why did I choose this poem? I related to the wind talking and asking my to see.

What do I like about it? I like the juxtapositions creating a different, broader meaning

What technique(s) do I want to try? Again, the spoken words in italics. This time using italics as a shape the wind turns the grass into as well as speech. It’s a great idea. In two quick lines, he turns a believable news fact about sardines into a derogatory accusation.

How will this improve my poem? My poem already has some interesting juxtapositions. What could I cut to make the mind jump? Is there a “news” fact that would paint a picture juxtaposed against an unfounded judgement that would bring the reader to make interesting connections?

The Recall

An impression of fruit flies in furious flight
sketches the words, Think. Can you imagine?
contentment empties glue of flavor
and steals scissors of sharp
cuts. Today, Ms. Winters, the Mayor of Little Town
was recalled for having a litter in her office
Her predecessor was quoted as saying, I told
you she could never do the job as well as a man.

She wouldn’t stop licking the blood
from their heads: blind and mewling
in the box. Think. Can you imagine?
The hunger says this is dying season and–
What indelible marks will topple to the tongue?
Like a bridge burner
who can’t turn around
Maybe refreshment is nothing but
moles digging holes under the tent of solitude
I will get there, won’t I?
To the dark fresh-earth tunnels
where scraping, not smoothing, may nourish understanding

Summing up redrafting

There are so many options for redrafting a poem. I’m excited to try some new things when I revise my next poem. For this demonstration, however, we’ve covered a lot. I think the most important thing for redrafting are the questions I asked myself at the beginning:

  1. What are my motivations for redrafting this poem?
  2. What do I like about it?
  3. What don’t I like about it?

If you recall from Part One of this demonstration, I said, “It feels cluttered. There’s too much that isn’t clear. I want to know more of the story, the character, motivations, and conflict.” Toward that end, I think writing the narrative poem was a great first redraft. The opposites game draft, combined with the original then split lines, were the next most helpful generative drafts.

The new redrafting techniques: Thesaurus game and Put a color on it, didn’t influence this poem very much, but they were enormously helpful with some other poems I was revising.

I’m very excited about the new digital tools I found: Poemage and Scandroid. I imagine I’ll have a lot of fun with them as I continue revising my poems.

Now that my redrafting toolbox is overflowing, an important part of the Review process will be choosing the correct tools for an efficient and effective redraft.

Next Steps

I will read over all of my redrafts and let them inform me as I make some decisions about changes to my original poem. Then I will post it to Scribophile for critique.

While I wait for some feedback, I will continue to learn from other poets. I realized, while writing the post about meter, that I haven’t focused as much on listening to poetry as I have reading poetry. I will work on that through the How Writers Write Poetry MOOCs, YouTube videos, listening to the audio on Poets.org, and exploring some poetry Podcasts.

I enjoyed this video of Naomi Shihab Nye talking about revision.

I also liked some of the things that Juan Felipe Herrera said during this talk. He said once you’ve thrown the words on the page, anything else is a new poem. “If you revise a poem long enough, you have a whole book.”

Using the revision process I’ve been demonstrating, I find his statement is so true. This one short poem, the first one of thirty from NaPoWriMo, has already generated thirty new poems! Think of it: if I took each of the new drafts through the entire process so far, I would have 900 poems and then if I redrafted those . . . One of them would have to be good, right? 😉

Revising Poetry-a Demonstration Part Six: Redrafting for rhythm and rhyme

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

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

Poetic Meter (from Wikipedia)

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

Scandroid

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:

The Scandroid results of my attempt at iambic pentameter
My first Scandroid analysis 5-15-2021

How fun is that!!

Next Steps

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.

The Quadrille: Not Just An Old Dance Anymore

quadrille: noun – 1. a square dance performed typically by four couples and containing five (or six) sections, each of which is a complete dance in itself. A piece of music for a quadrille dance. 2. each of four groups of riders taking part in a tournament or carousel, distinguished by a special costume or colors. A riding display.

The Dance

The dance took its name from square formations executed by four mounted horsemen in 17th-century military parades. The dance was executed by four couples in a square formation.

The following table from Wikipedia shows what the different parts of the Viennese six-part style look like, musically speaking:

  • part 1: Pantalon (written in 2/4 or 6/8)
    theme A – theme B – theme A – theme C – theme A
  • part 2: Été (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A
  • part 3: Poule (always written in 6/8)
    theme A – theme B – theme A – theme C – theme A – theme B – theme A
    • Part 3 always begins with a two-measure introduction
  • part 4: Trénis (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A
  • part 5: Pastourelle (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme C – theme B – theme A
  • part 6: Finale (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A – theme A
    • Part 6 always begins with a two-measure introduction

All the themes are 8 measures long.

The Poem

I started this study of quadrilles today because it’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and I wanted to participate for the fist time. The connection between the quadrille dance and poetry began when Lewis Carroll lampooned the dance in  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’sThe Lobster Quadrille” (1865).

The dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille is a poem (or short prose) in exactly 44 words that incorporates a given word. To quote from the original post from Björn Rudberg, “The challenge combines two essential elements to have fun.” Today’s word is muddle and the quotes on the site are great!

I headed over to Shadow Poetry to see if they had a poetry form page for the quadrille and the closest I found was an invented poetry form by C. G. V. Lewis called a quadrilew.

Over at Poetry Soup I found a page of links to poems about quadrille that they call Quadrille Poems which I thought was interesting.

And now that I have some understanding of quadrille (at least the word), here is my first attempt at creating my own:

The Dance

Lace and denim muddled
space in a rat race

Grace; a muddled mint
in a julep glazed

Chase a hint
of mace-muddled flint,
a warm taste

Face the phenom
of muddled voices
venom without trace

Time is a climb of thirsting,
bursting rhyme sublime

 

The Horses

Happy Reading and Writing!

and dancing and horses and costumes

Poetry and The Fiction Writer

Pictures of books I recently read as a poetry study

Discovering The Art Of series and further study

The collection of books pictured above was inspired by discovering The Art of series at my local library. The Art of discusses different aspects of writing with examples from a great variety of texts. I wanted to learn more about the authors who wrote the series, so I picked up their poetry and essays as well. I’m glad I did. This group of books :intelligent discussion, imparted wisdom and beautiful poetry.

But I’m a fiction writer, why spend time with poetry and poets?

Words are a writer’s tools and poets have to use words in the most efficient manner for maximum emotional effect.

Ellen Bryant Voigt

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song

Rhythm is what makes Ms. Voigt’s poems so amazing. Her contribution to The Art Of series is my favorite of the bunch. I learned some interesting vocabulary specific to the rhythm of words:

enjambment – the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

trochee – a foot of two syllables, a long followed by a short in quantitative meter, or a stressed followed by an unstressed in accentual meter.

caesura –

1. Prosody. a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. Classical Prosody. a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

fricative

palimpsest – a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

Headwaters: Poems

I loved these poems. Though completely lacking in punctuation, the message is never lost and the rhythm is clear. Her word choice is beautiful. These poems felt like a magical discovery.

Mark Doty

The Art of Description: World into Word

I enjoyed the idea of “the sensorium”–finding the places of sensory overlap and allowing the senses their complexly interactive life.

I also noted that I should read :

Middlemarch by George Eliot and
Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997 by James Galvin

Deep Lane: Poems

These poems take you on walks with the dog and inspections of the garden. They take you there through lovely description and word choice.

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter is the editor of The Art of series.

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

Full of examples of how subtext is used in fiction.

Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

Mr. Baxter’s essays get into his thought process. They let the reader into the flow of a writer mind.

Here I also learned a new word: Pusillanimous – lacking courage and resolution

Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

It felt like serendipity when Charles Baxter started talking about Brenda Ueland’s book because I already had it on my bookshelf. It’s a great book for those times you need a cheerleader, which, as writers, we often do.

I just opened to a random page and found this bit of fun:

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.   –Brenda Ueland

Excited to fill up on some poetry?

Here are some links to poetry sites I enjoy, so you can get your fill while you wait for the books you just ordered from Amazon to arrive  🙂

Poetry Foundation

Poets and Writers

Eunoia Review

Tweetspeak Poetry

Are You Thrilled

Joy Write

Happy Reading and Writing

Don’t be pusillanimous. Get out there and explore!

Who is your favorite poet?

What is your favorite poetry book?

What is your favorite poetry website?