Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poetry Kick!

I seem to be on a poetry kick this morning. I've written three poems about recent happenings and despite the fact they don't really follow a form, I think they're okay. The last one I did is an epistle poem, basically a poetic letter:

To the dog owner across the street:

Your dogs are in danger
of being run over
whenever you let them
wander out into the street.

Also, they bark at me
while I am standing in my own yard.
This is not their territory.
You should teach them that.

Your Neighbour

I just read it out loud and realised I have a near-dactyl foot in the first stanza. If I take out the word 'wander', it's dactyl with a leading unaccented syllable. You've heard of iambic pentameter. The iamb is the description of the rhythm of the syllables: in iamb, it's one unaccented syllable followed by one accented syllable, notated like this: - / . Dactyl is one accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables: - - /. So by removing the word 'wander' I tighten my line and preserve the unintentional dactyl foot:

- / - - / -
Your dogs are in dan-ger
- / - - / -
of be-ing run o - ver
- / - - / -
when-ev-er you let them
- / - - /
out in-to the street

It has a nice flow to it. The dactyl sort of 'runs', a way of saying its rhythm pulls the reader/speaker forward in a way the iamb doesn't. I favour the quicker styles of poetry, like Skeltonic verse. Skeltonic is fun to write. The trouble isn't in the starting, though, it's in the stopping! :) I wrote a Skeltonic verse poem for Associated Content the other year: it's here.

I don't know what to do with the rest of that poem now, though. I'll keep it in my notebook and see if anything pops into my head at a later date. If you're interested in more information on poetic forms, I heartily recommend The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, which I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before. Poetry doesn't have to be something only crotchety old fogies and dried-up literature professors revel in. Check out The Writers Almanac, linked in my sidebar, sometime. It's five minutes of literary and poetic inspiration that can help jump-start your day.

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