Week Fourteen: The Bop

Introduction

The Bop may be the newest form on the list and it won’t have you counting syllables or even rhyming–this one is all about structure. With a total of twenty lines, it’s also the longest form so far. It’s got a set number of stanzas and line count with a refrain between stanzas, but beyond that, it’s pretty open. The problem/solution aspect of the poem (more on that below) adds an interesting twist to the form.

The Bop was invented and developed by celebrated Baltimore poet, Afaa Michael Weaver, winner of many prestigious awards including a Fulbright Scholarship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His most recent poetry collection, Spirit Boxing, was published in 2017.

Caption: Afaa Michael Weaver–acclaimed poet, short-story writer, editor, and inventor of The Bop.

Example – “Rambling”

“Rambling” by Afaa Michael Weaver – 1950-
                in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary

In general population, census
is consensus—ain’t nowhere to run
to in these walls, walls like a mind—
We visitors stand in a yellow circle
so the tower can frisk us with light,
finger the barrels on thirsty rifles.

I got rambling, rambling on my mind

In general population, madness runs
swift through the river changing, changing
in hearts, men tacked in their chairs,
resigned to hope we weave into air,
talking this and talking that and one brutha
asks Tell us how to get these things
They got, these houses, these cars.
We want the real revolution. Things…

I got rambling, got rambling on my mind

In the yellow circle the night stops
like a boy shot running from a Ruger 9mm
carrying .44 magnum shells, a sista
crying in the glass booth to love’s law,
to violence of backs bent over to the raw
libido of men, cracking, cracking, crack…

I got rambling, rambling on my mind

Requirements of the Form

Structure

– Made of three stanzas, each followed by a single-line refrain.
— Stanza 1 contains six lines
— Stanza 2 contains eight lines
— Stanza 3 contains six lines

Content

– Poet’s choice, but often a problem or conflict is introduced in the first stanza, which is then expanded up in the second stanza, and resolved (if possible) in the third.

–Don’t forget the single-line refrain after each stanza.

Syllable Count

– no requirements

Meter

– no requirements

Rhyme

– no requirements

An Original Bop

We were born between rivers [an original bop]

We were born between rivers in the green
heart of the fertile valley. Our skin grew rich
with sun and deep black soil. We saw a light
and recognized a soul. Our dark eyes grew
wide and pulsed with power. Our hands
grew strong and eager and began to drum.

I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.

In the chant we found a human voice; we cried
and sang. We danced and the rhythm overtook
our feet. Our feet that could not stop began
to wander. In our wandering we found a world
unconquered and in our new restlessness set
to test our will against it. We marched from
war to war–war within and war without–
and we forgot the soul, the voice, the dance.

I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.

When we remember our soul like water
flowing, our eyes like oceans swimming
in starlight, our hands like branches reaching,
our feet like roots plunging, seeking a center,
We will then remember the strength of stillness.
We will then remember the power of peace.

I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.

A note on my original bop

My refrain is taken from the following quote:
“There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.”
— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Part 50

Links to Online Resources

Afaa Michael Weaver – Time Magazine
Afaa M. Weaver – Wikipedia
The Bop – Writer’s Digest
The Bop: Poetic Form – Poets.org

**COME BACK NEXT FRIDAY TO SEE THE NEXT FORM:
THE LUNE!**

–Original creative works are owned by the
author and subject to copyright laws

One thought on “Week Fourteen: The Bop

  1. Pingback: The Bop – Adam of the Universe

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