Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Write to learn ... follow constraints ... find poems

     Some people (myself included) take lots of notes during a lecture or other program -- for it seems that the physical activity of placing the words on the page is part of the process of installing the ideas in memory.  For me, also, the creation of a paragraph or a poem depends on the teamwork of hands and brain.

     One of the ways that poets engage themselves in creating new thoughts is by accepting the guidance of formal constraints -- creating the fourteen lines of a sonnet or the nineteen lines of a villanelle with strict patterns of rhythm and rhyme and repetition.  Below I consider the question of what I want for my birthday  --  and use that in my struggle to write a sonnet:

You asked me
      for a birthday gift suggestion . . . 
by JoAnne Growney    

      No, not a sable coat, nor diamond ring,
      I want a gift that doesn't cost a dime
      or a life.  Offer me a magic thing.
      Find me a number, perhaps a prime --
      to check my tendency to subdivide
      myself.  Avoid digits like two and five
      whose familiarity weakens magic.
      Give me an emblem to wear on my T-shirt.
      Perhaps I'd like a big red seventeen,
      a bold insignia that's not a bit obscene
      and shows up on the calendar each month to say
      that I am more than half-way through the days
      I count, in search of truth mixed with a dream
      of August picnics and homemade peach ice cream.

If you'd like to review the structural requirements for the sonnet and villanelle, here is a link to more informationSonnets previously posted in this blog may be found here,  and previously posted villanelles may be found here.

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