The hay(na)ku is a newer form that is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s a short form—a three-line poem like the haiku—but unlike that traditional form, words are counted instead of syllables. The hay(na)ku was invented by poet Eileen Tabios. (See links at the end of this post to learn more.)
Form: a three-line form (tercet) with one word in the first line, two words in the second line, and three words in the third line. Tercets may be repeated to create a longer work, like in the example below.
As I celebrate reaching the halfway mark of this 52-week challenge (whoop!), I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out these posts and show their support by following, liking, and commenting. I created this poetry challenge as a test of my own resolve, willpower, and writing ability, and though I’d still be posting if I hadn’t any followers at all, knowing that there are some folks out there who get enough from it to take the time to interact with my blog is a wonderful feeling.
You may have noticed I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off (due to illness and general holiday busyness) and this will be my last post of 2019. The challenge will pick up right where it left off in January 2020, so please come back and join me in the new year. I hope the end of the year (and the decade!) brings you love and joy, no matter how you choose to celebrate the season.
And now…the main attraction!
Meet the Rondeau
The word rondeau derives form the French rond, meaning “round,” and, indeed, it is a form that turns round and round. The rondeau originated in Provencal poetry in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The term originally included various short poetic forms. The current form was fixed toward the end of the fifteenth century and became especially popular in French poetry.
– Edward Hirsch, A Poet’s Glossary
Form: Consists of fifteen lines in two or three stanzas and a refrain that is introduced in line 1 and repeats in lines 10 and 15
Rhyme: Follows a unique rhyme scheme
Meter: Often written in iambic tetrameter
“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
We Wear the Mask
We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile; But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask!
An Original Rondeau
The Fix Was In
The Fix was in right from the start. They wrote the script, assigned the parts, Then hired a team to advertise, To teach to want, each worthless prize A meal designed to slowly starve.
We work to live; our lives are hard. Our hands are strong, but marked with scars, And long before we realized The Fix was in,
They dulled our minds and tamed our hearts. We fell in line, we pushed the cart Through crowded aisles, half mesmerized. And on we’ll play, the stakes will rise, not knowing as we fold our cards The Fix was in.
The Chanso (also sometimes called the Canso) poetic and song form was popular with the French troubadours in the second half of the 13th century. When reading about the chanso, you’ll likely run into the following terms, which I’ve broken down below for clarification.
Chanso: A poetic and song form used by the troubadours Canso: Another name for the chanso form Chanson: A lyric-driven French song Canzone: An Italian variation of the chanso form
“3PO! Come in, 3PO! 3PO! Where could he be?” -Luke Skywalker
With all the things I have been through, I thought it must be obvious– the odds good you already knew– like R2 I’ve grown mischievous
and abandoned Jedi and Sith for a vacay with my Ewoks, who love to hear me spin a myth and always listen when I talk.
Not that I hate on Master Luke, though I could do without that Han, who’s quick to give a tough rebuke every time things don’t go to plan.
It’s just I don’t like being shot or getting pulled into pieces. After all, I’m not a robot when I’ve got telekinesis,
or at least, that’s what Ewoks think as they sing “yub-yub” on their moon, which was once on the very brink of the Empire’s galactic doom.
So look and you’ll find me no more: I’ll be the droid you’re looking for.
Requirements of the Form
– Consists of four or five stanzas of equal length, followed by a half-stanza (known as an envoy or tornada) which is identical in structure to the second half of the preceding stanza
– Poet’s choice, but historically written as a love song – The first stanza usually introduces the topic of the poem – The envoy often features a summation of the themes explored in the previous stanzas
– Poet’s choice, but each line of the poem should contain the same number or syllables
– Poet’s choice, but should be consistent from stanza to stanza, excepting the envoy, which usually ends in a couplet
Example of a Chanso in Five Stanzas
[Stanza 1] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ab rhyme [Stanza 2] 4 lines, 8 syllables, cd rhyme [Stanza 3] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ef rhyme [Stanza 4] 4 lines, 8 syllables, gh rhyme [Stanza 5] 2 lines, 8 syllables, ii rhyme
An Original Chanso
What Happens Now
What happens now is important: a journey of a thousand miles, a heroic test of fortune, will carry you across the isles
of fear and imagination, of suffering and beauty found interwoven through creation, like the moon’s pull on the tide, bound
inextricably together. Don’t scar the earth mining for gold; the cave within holds the treasure so often sought, but never sold,
and never bought at any price, though you’ll find many dishonest men advertising otherwise. Your actions now are a promise;
Your choices now fashion your fate— Choose courage now; it’s not too late.
The Japanese love their five-line forms. (I love them too!) The word Gogyohka (sometimes written Gogyōka in English) translates literally from Japanese to mean “five-line form.” An unnamed version of the form has existed at least since the early 1900s, but the popularity of the form today is largely credited to poet Enta Kusakabe who developed and trademarked the gogyohka in 1983 as a freer adaptation of the tanka form.
A Gogyohka by Enta Kusakabe
What kind of stained glass have your rose-coloured cheeks passed through
Five rules of Gogyohka by Enta Kusakabe*
Gogyohka is a new form of short poem that is based on the ancient Japanese Tanka and Kodai kayo.
Gogyohka has five lines, but exceptionally may have four or six.
Each line of Gogyohka consists of one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.
Gogyohka has no restraint on numbers of words or syllables.
This 19th century French form uses the circular, controlled repetition of a refrain to allow repeated lines to take on new meaning as the poem progresses. The pastoral elements found in the Italian folk songs that traditionally inspired the form have been stripped away and the topics explored in the modern villanelle now vary greatly. Popular modern villanelles include Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” and Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” (shared below).
Although Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” is likely the most widely-known modern villanelle (and one I love and admire), I personally have an equal—perhaps even greater—response to Roethke’s 1953 work, “The Waking.”
– Consists of five stanzas of three lines (tercets), followed by a four-line stanza (quatrain) for a total of nineteen lines
– The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas
– The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas
– These two refrain lines follow each other to become the penultimate (second-to-last) and final lines of the poem
~Don’t worry, I’ll break it down for you in a moment~
– Traditional villanelles often featured a pastoral setting
– Modern villenelles are free from thematic restrictions
– aba pattern, with rhymes repeated according to the refrains
– No requirement, though you’ll find some modern examples (like Roethke’s above) are written in iambic pentameter
Some modern interpretations of the form allow for some variation in the refrain. For examples of this, see Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art”.
1. A1 (refrain) 2. b 3. A2 (refrain)
4. a 5. b 6. A1 (refrain)
7. a 8. b 9. A2 (refrain)
10. a 11. b 12. A1 (refrain)
13. a 14. b 15. A2 (refrain)
16. a 17. b 18. A1 (refrain) 19. A2 (refrain)
An Original Villanelle
Bird by Bird [a Villanelle]
I write to write and see my mind in words. I fear not dullness nor avoid mistake. I write to write and take it bird by bird.
Ideas they flow though often quite absurd; These visions form and dream-filled pictures make. I write to write and see my dreams in words.
But how, you ask, can one with eyes obscured By sleep-drunk thoughts be made to spring awake? I write to wake and take it bird by bird.
Although it’s true I’m less than self-assured, And my neglected voice is sure to shake; I write to heal and grow through shaking words.
And my unpracticed voice may well be heard, But I fear not that I’ll be found a fake. I write to live and see my life in words. I write to write and take it bird by bird.
A Note on My Original Villanelle
My villanelle is inspired by Anne Lamott’s wonderful guide to writing and the creative life, Bird by Bird. I took a page from Roethke’s book and challenged myself to write my villanelle in iambic pentameter. I also took a page from Bishop’s book and added some variation to the refrain for added impact.
The Haibun features a fascinating paring of prose poetry and haiku. It was invented and popularized by 17th century Japanese master poet Matsuo Bashō. The prose and haiku of the haibun are often in communication with each other in direct or subtle ways.
I walk the north end of the lake this time every summer. Listen to the murky green waters slap up against the weather beaten dock. In the distance, the sound of children skinny dipping.
from a navy sky sound of cicadas calling full moon on the rise
Requirements of the Form
– Titled, unlike traditional haiku
– Begins with a small number of short paragraphs (typically one to three) written in prose poetry style
– Ends with a traditional haiku that reflects or is in some relationship with the introductory prose poem
Common elements and themes include: – Strong sense of place through natural imagery and sensory detail – Travel or sense of journey – Autobiographical elements – Economy of language – Sense of presence and immediacy typically found in haiku – Haiku follows other rules typically found in form
– For the haiku, syllables needn’t be counted 5-7-5 as in the English Haiku. Rather, aim for a short first line, followed by a longer line, ending with another short line. This approach more closely reflects the spirit of the traditional Japanese form.
An Original Haibun
October 28, 2019[a haibun]
October is ending. The blazing reds of the sugar maple have begun to yellow. I stand at the front window, still in my bathrobe though noon approaches, still fighting a cold with rest and medication. A small grey cat brushes against my leg and then the curtain. Beside her, a fat tabby dozes on a quilt on a rocking chair. Beside the rocking chair, a wastebasket full of crumpled tissues waits to be emptied.
I refill my coffee mug, warming my hands with it as I return to the window. The leaves on the lawn are beginning to brown, reminding me of the promise to rake. Last year we let them lay and they choked the irises. At the feeder, only the occasional finch returns. The water in the birdbath is not yet frozen.
October ends orange leaves and white snowflakes fall together