Week Thirty-Three: Anagrammatic Poem

Anagram-arama!

Jumblers and scrabblers are well-versed in the art of the anagram, a technique that uses the shuffling of a given selection of letters to find new words. Anagrams can be a lot of fun, so it’s no surprise they are used in many popular word games and puzzles.

Key Features of the Anagrammatic Poem

Content: Always titled, and only letters featured in the title can be used

Form: The anagrammatic method can be combined with existing poetic forms (such as the haiku, sonnet, etc.) or used to create new ones.

Example

Anagrammatic [a hay(na)ku]

Ma’am,
I am
An anagrammatic man.

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An Original Poem

February [a hay(na)ku]

brrr
buy beer
rub furry bear

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Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Anagrammatic Poetry – Writer’s Digest
Anagrammatic Poetry – Wikipedia
Anagram – Poetry Foundation

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Come back every Friday for a new form!

~ Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws ~

Write your own anagrammatic poem and share in the comments!

Week Eight: The Cywydd llosgyrnog

The Cywhatnow?

The Cywydd llosgyrnog is the second Welsh form of this challenge and includes many of the features you come to expect from a Welsh form including: strict syllable count, both end rhymes and internal rhymes, and an extremely difficult-to-pronounce (and spell) name!

Using this handy online Guide to Welsh Pronunciation, the best I can suss out as far as the pronunciation of this form would sound something like “kuh-with th-laws-gurr-nog,” but please understand this is only an educated guess.

Requirements of the Form

The Cywydd llosgyrnog form prescribes no restrictions in content or meter, but there are various other requirements that must be adhered to rather strictly.

Form

– Consists of any number of single six-line stanzas (sestets)

Syllable Count

– Lines 1, 2, 4 and 5 contain eight syllables 
– Lines 3 and 6 have seven syllables 

Rhyme

-End rhymes (lines 1-6): aabccb
-Internal rhymes (lines 3 and 6*): ac
*generally falling on syllable 3 or 4

Requirement Breakdown*

1-xxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxa
3-xxxaxxb
4-xxxxxxxc
5-xxxxxxxc
6-xxxcxxb

*adapted, with thanks, from Writer’s Digest

An Original Cywydd llosgyrnog

When I stop to watch

When I stop to watch the deep blue
Evening descend and the last few
Fading hues of daylight’s dream
Diffuse into the sloping plains
A peace upon my mind again
Falls like rain into a stream

Online Resources

A Guide to Welsh Pronunciation – go4awalk.com
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Writer’s Digest
Cywydd – Wikipedia
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Poet’s Collective
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Poetry Magnum Opus

Week Seven: The Minute Poem

The Minute Poem is a modern form of unknown origin. Despite it’s name–and fortunately for us–the Minute Poem is not a poem that you must write in 60 seconds. Rather, it’s a poem consisting of exactly sixty syllables. Further requirements in length, meter, and rhyme help this form stand out and make for a fun and fairly simple challenge.

Lucky for us, the Minute Poem counts syllables, not seconds.

Requirements of the Form

Form

– Consists of three quatrains (four-line stanzas) for a total of twelve lines

Meter

– Strict iambic (unstressed-stressed)

Syllable Count

– Eight syllables in the first line of each stanza
– Four syllables in the proceeding lines of each stanza

Rhyme Scheme

aabb/ccdd/eeff

Requirements Breakdown

1-xxxxxxxa
2-xxxa
3-xxxb
4-xxxb

5-xxxxxxxc
6-xxxc
7-xxxd
8-xxxd

9-xxxxxxxe
10-xxxe
11-xxxf
12-xxxf

An Original Minute Poem

I often sleep through summer’s storm

I often sleep through summer’s storm
when nights are warm
and thick with dreams
or so it seems

the quilt pulled high covers my eyes
as lightning flies
like moon in shroud
of creeping cloud

I wake to find the darkened road
the flowers bowed
the sagging sky
the river high

Online Resources

Minute Poetry – Shadow Poetry
Minute Poem – Poetry Dances
Minute Poem – Writer’s Digest

Week Six: The Décima

**Special Announcement: This week’s post will feature a bonus original poem from poet and singer-songwriter Brandon Barnett!**

Meet the Décima

The Décima poetic form is widely used in poetry and song throughout Spain and Latin America, though the requirements may vary somewhat by region. People who write and perform décimas are often referred to as decimistas or deimeros. The form is also known as the espinela in Spanish, after the creator of the modern version of the décima, writer and musician Vicente Gómez Martínez-Espinel.

Photo caption: Spanish writer and musician Vicente Gómez Martínez-Espinel

Regional Variations

A few regional variations are listed below. Pick your favorite, or try them all!

Puerto Rico: Consists of a 10-line stanza, with 8 syllables per line (octosyllabic) and an abbaaccddc rhyme scheme

Italy: The decima Italiana is a 10-line poem, with 8-syllable lines and an ababcdedec rhyme scheme

Ecuador: Here the décima is a 44-line poem made up of a quatrain and four ten-line stanzas. It’s nearly identical to the glosa poetic form

Poetry and Song

The song form of the décima usually consists of 44 lines and is often improvised. Much like the “freestyle rap battle” of modern hip-hop, Decimeros often challenge one another with dueling songs as a way to show off the composer’s wit and skill.

Requirements of the Form

The requirements listed below are for the Puerto Rican poetic form:

Form

– Single 10-line stanza

Content

-Subject matter varies widely, but common themes include philosophy religion, and politics. Satirical décimas are often humorous.

Syllable Count

– 8 syllables per line

Rhyme Scheme

– abbaaccddc

An Original Décima Poem

After Maria

The cameras flash, Trump fakes a smile;
He holds his breath, swallows a growl,
And throws a roll of paper towels.
Empathy missed by a mile
For Puerto Rico, enchanted isle.
No concern for the common health
of neighbors in the commonwealth;
Once slaving for the hacienda,
Victims of encomienda,
They fight to own a sense of self.

*An Original Décima Poem by Special Guest, Brandon Barnett*

We never knocked on rust-streaked doors
but entered like the bums we were
with hair so ragged–greased like fur–
and alcohol from every pore

The only word we spoke was “more!”
with glassy eyes on shining things
refulgent suds the evening brings
and singing out in harmony

But all that now is far from me
Though oft-recalled with mem’ry strings

Online Resources

Decima – Wikipedia
The Decima –  Puerto Rican Cuatro Project
Decima – Writer’s Digest
Decima Poem Lesson – American Collection
Vicente Espinel – Wikipedia

Week Five: The Miltonic Sonnet

John Milton (1608-1674)

The Miltonic Sonnet is named after the 17th century English poet, political writer, and civil servant, John Milton. With the publishing of his epic poem Paradise Lost, widely regarded as one of the greatest works written in the English language, Milton solidified his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time. Milton’s work would live on to influence Romantic poets such as William Blake and William Wordsworth.

Photo caption: A wood engraving from the 19th century depicts a blind John Milton dictating his influential epic poem “Paradise Lost” (Fortuné Louis Méaulle / Wellcome Library) 

Milton’s Sonnet

Milton adapted the Petrachan sonnet (named for Italian poet-scholar Petrach) and made the popular form his own. He took the sonnet out of the category of “love poems” and brought it into the world of politics, religion, and social issues. He also introduced enjambments (the technical term used for when a poet carries a line through to the next line), while at the same time removing the space between what was before the first and second stanzas, thus tightening up the form. By removing the volta (also known as a pivot, or turn) after the octave (first eight lines), and varying the rhyme scheme of the sestet (proceeding six lines), he further opened up the form.

A reading of one of Milton’s most famous poems should help demonstrate these contributions to the evolution of the sonnet:

“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”

When I consider how my light is spent,
    Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
    And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
    My true account, lest He returning chide;
    “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
    Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
    Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
    And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Requirements of the Form

Form

– Fourteen lines
– No spaces between ‘stanzas’
– Lines contain enjambment (see above for brief definition)

Content

– Occasional, political, and religious subjects
– Unlike other sonnets, does not have a distinct volta (also known as a pivot) after the eighth line

Meter

– Iambic pentameter (ten syllables per line, unstressed-stressed pattern).

Rhyme

– First eight lines (octave): abbaabba
– Preceding six lines (sestet): often cdecde, but variable

An Original Miltonic Sonnet

The viral imagine haunted every screen–
A photograph too horrid to ignore:
A pair of bloated bodies on the shore.
In Congress followed yet another scene
Of bickering and washing white-hands clean.
No older than The Virgin when she bore
The Savior that they claim to so adore,
The budding mother wonders what they mean.
As children hungry, dirty, sick and scared
Are torn away and locked in concrete halls
Lay weak with worry, overwhelmed with fear,
The value of their lives is weighed and tared;
As Washington debates the costs of walls,
Who dares to speak of Christ’s compassion here?

Notes on My Original Sonnet

I challenged myself to write a sonnet that was true to the Miltonic themes of politics, religion, and current events, and found in the issue of immigration a combination of all three. The line “children hungry, dirty, sick and scared” was taken from this BBC News article and served as the fulcrum of this poem.

Online Resources


Sonnet Examples – Poetry Through the Ages
Miltonic Sonnet – Poet’s Collective
Miltonic Sonnet – Poetry Magnum Opus
John Milton – Wikipedia

Week Four: The Ovillejo

The Ingenious Gentleman Cervantes

The Ovillejo is the first form of this challenge with a lineage that can be traced back to a single well-known source: Miguel de Cervantes’ epic comedy (or is it a tragedy?) The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha, better known today simply as Don Quixote (1605).

Untangling the Ovillejo

Ovillo in Spanish means “ball,” usually indicating a ball of yarn or wool. A Poet’s Glossary explains: “The word ovillego refers to a spool of thread or wool, and this complicated Spanish stanzaic form is ‘tied in a little knot’…[which] unravels in ten lines.”

Learning by Example

The Ovillejo is a complex form which can perhaps be best introduced through example. Below you’ll see an excerpt from Paul Archer’s English translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ poem, “Ovillejos” from Don Quixote, followed by the original Spanish version.

Ovillejos (Archer Translation)

What undermines all I attempt?
Contempt!
What heaps sorrow onto me?
Jealousy!
And what gnaws me through and through?
Missing you!

That’s why nothing will do
to make my distress less –
I’m killed by hopelessness,
contempt, jealousy and missing you!

Ovillejos (Original Spanish)

¿Quién menoscaba mis bienes?
¡Desdenes!
Y ¿quién aumenta mis duelos?
¡Los celos!
Y ¿quién prueba mi paciencia?
¡Ausencia!

De este modo en mi dolencia
ningún remedio se alcanza,
pues me matan la esperanza,
desdenes, celos y ausencia.

Translation vs Original

It’s an understatement to say that translating poetry in any language is a difficult task. In a form with as many requirements as this has, you’ll likely have to make some compromises. Even a non-Spanish speaker should be able to notice that Archer’s translation has preserved the original’s punctuation (excepting the exclamation in the last line) and rhyme scheme, but not the syllable count. The lesson here is you can’t rely solely on any translation to learn the requirements of a given form.

Form Requirements

Structure:
– The Ovillejo is a poem consisting of ten lines

– These ten lines are usually made up of a sestet (6 line stanza) and a quatrain (4 line stanza)

– Any number of Ovillejos can be connected to create a sequence (you’ll see here that Cervantes’ “Ovillejos” is a sequence of three Ovillejos)

Content:
– Lines 1, 3, and 5 of the first stanza must ask a question, which the preceding line (2, 4, 6) must answer

– The second stanza reflects and amplifies the first stanza

– The last line of the second stanza must be a culmination of lines 2, 4, and 6 of the previous stanza (this is known as a redondilla). The exclamation point on the final line appears to be optional

Rhyming:
– The first stanza can either be seen as three couplets, or a sestet with an aa bbcc rhyme scheme

– The second stanza is always a quatrain, with a cddc rhyme scheme

Syllable Count:
– In the first stanza, lines 1 ,3, and 5 consist of eight syllables. Lines 2, 4, and 6 consist of two to three syllables

– Lines 7, 8, and 9 consist of eight syllables in the second stanza

– The final line should consist of seven to ten syllables

If all of these rules are leaving your brain feeling like a ball of tangled yarn, here’s a breakdown:

Ovillejo Requirement Breakdown*

Line 1: a rhyme in 8 syllables (question)
Line 2: a rhyme in 2-3 syllables (single word exclamation)
Line 3: b rhyme in 8 syllables (question)
Line 4: b rhyme in 2-3 syllables (single word exclamation)
Line 5: c rhyme in 8 syllables (question)
Line 6: c rhyme in 2-3 syllables (single word exclamation)

Line 7: c rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 8: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 9: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 10: (Line 2) (Line 4) (Line 6) (optional exclamation)

*line breakdown adapted from Writer’s Digest

An Original Ovillejo

What do we say when men oppress?
Confess!
To those who drink as others drown?
Step down!
And after we destroy the throne?
Atone!

To prove your soul’s not made of stone,
There’s nothing that you need to do
But lift your polished, deadly shoe,
Confess, step down, and atone.

Online Resources:

Top 10 Question Poems – Tweetspeak
Ovillejo – Writer’s Digest
Ovillejos – Paul Archer (Translator of Cervantes)
Ovillejo – Dark Side of the Moon
Ovillejo – Popular Poetry Forms
Unraveling the Ovillejo – dVerse Poets

Week Three: The Magic 9

Rumored Origins

The Magic 9 form is a newer form with uncertain origins (though one website states it was created by Divena Collins). The idea for the rhyme scheme is rumored to have sprung from the rushed misspelling of the famous incantatory exclamation: abacadabra!

Structure of the Magic 9 Poem

Requirements of the Magic 9 form:

– Comprised of a single nine-line stanza

– Must follow the rhyme scheme: abacadaba

– No restrictions on line length, meter or subject matter

Tips and Techniques

One way to get started is to make a list of end words.

To do this form correctly you’ll need:
– 5 a end rhymes
– 2 b end rhymes
– 1 c end word
– 1 d end word

Determine what kind of end rhymes you’d like to use. Click here for a handy guide on the different rhyme types used in poetry.

First try single-syllable end rhyme words, and then expand to two or even three-syllable words. Consider how these changes feel and how each possibility resonates within the structure of the form.

Now brainstorm around your favorite end rhyme clusters, looking for meaningful ways to bring them together.

Keep it loose at the beginning and let the creativity flow. Your internal editor is not allowed in this free-flowing creative space, so don’t stop to judge or think too critically–that’s what revision is for.

An Original Magic 9 Poem

The Stargazers

Away from the glare of the city’s light,
We follow the firefly’s flash.
Abandoning the screens that so narrow our sight,
We trace the heavens for our favorite constellations.
With galaxies and gods, all going ’round in our flight,
We lay down our blanket in a hidden patch of prairie.
In this brilliant darkness, our vision’s set right,
As the dazzling meteors slash
Across the impossible night.

Links to Online Resources:

Magic 9: Poetic Forms – Writer’s Digest
Poetry Forms: Magic 9 – Poet’s Collective