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Friday Freeforall: Poetry Prompt Madness

8:30 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello dear readers. Another week until summer vacation starts officially. Not that my status changes, except that as my husband works and is a teacher, he wants a real vacation, i.e. we go somewhere. Over the next few weeks I will be in different places, but still bringing you your weekly measure of fun and games.

We start with Donna’s Poetry Tow Truck and a prompt that some of you may have already come across and written to and that is an in memoriam prompt. Donna suggests: consider the soldier, current or veteran. But, if you want to change that, you can write about anything, in memory of. Head over and see what she says.

We sail toWriter’s Island next where they are changing their modus operandi. They are going visual for this prompt and ask us to: Please consider this fascinating image above from German surrealist, Michael Maier. To see above, disembark on the island to see the visual and to read their suggestions for approaching it.

The next site is a wordling whirl of Sundays. Visit them to see their wordle and to read up on how they work, if you wish to post responses. Otherwise, enjoy a weekly wordle, the words of which usually come from responses to the previous week’s wordle. This week, Brenda has chosen words from her favourite Wallace Steven’s poem. I admit, I am having tremendous fun with her wordles.

The line chosen by Carry on Tuesday are the last words spoken by explorer Cecil Rhodes. Visit the site for the words and a link to other last words spoken.

Sunday Scribblings offers flock as their word for the week. Remember that it can be used as a verb, or noun.  And, our other single word site, One Single Impression, offers us manifest. They are both popular sites for contributors, so do visit if you are ever curious to see how others have used a word.

At Scribble & Scatter’s ‘Sunday Snaps’ Susan May James has three diverse photographs ready for you to look at. I find I am liking her black and white photos, in particular. If you use one, consider submitting your creation to ‘Sunday Snaps: the Stories‘  a collection of 52 photos and stories/poems.

Whether you like to read them or want to try writing one, this site is the place to play with limericks. Go to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog for her Limerick-off Mondays.

Jingle Poetry’s ‘Monday Potluck’ offers us Thunderstorms, Floods and Water Fury. Remember to pop by and watch the video which  accompanies their prompt. Next week they ask us to be inspired by a song. Check their site for their suggestions, but the possibilities for this one are endless.

Magpie Tales is taking a break, but as one of my favourite types of graphic prompts is over at Magpie Tales, I am posting them again. They have posted Banquet Scene with a Lute Player by Nicolas Tournier. This type of painting offers many possible roads: focus on a single person, on the story of what is happening with the group, on a detail. But start by jotting down every single thing you see [as well as any comments or connections your brain is making].

For you alliterists out there, here is ABC Wednesdays letter for this week: TODAY it’s Time for “T”. T is TERRIBLY important. Go on over for the rest of the intro because they are such fun to read.

The three words this week for Three Word Wednesday are erratic, luminous and omen. I hadn’t thought about it before, but read in someone’s comments that they think of TWW as a mini-wordle. As always, visit them for their definitions. They have a particularly good source.

Think of a child’s painting (like something on the refrigerator). What creatures might there be? I do love how We Write Poems starts its prompts. How can one not head over and find out what else is said?

Everyone seems to be going visual this week. Poets United is planning to offer a visual prompt on the first Thursday of every month. For their first they ask: What insight arrives when you see a photo, what memories speak to you, what do you see beyond the image, what words arrive? Visit to see the image and read the rest of the prompt.

We have Scribble & Scatter’s ‘Alpha to Omega Thursdays’. We are onto delta this week: The delta words for my ‘Alpha to Omega’ challenge are demon  and dendrology. Visit for a look at the root meanings of the words.

And the final entry is a new one for us, Haiku Friday on Patricia K. Lichen’s blog. Yep, that would be today, so if you want to post on this blog, you need to revisit it later today when she posts the prompt for next week. To give you an example of what to expect, last week’s prompt is: Write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: burying beetles, goshawks, or something from Monday’s nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too. Visit the site to read some of the haiku posted. As they are short they appear in the comments below the prompt.

That should keep you entertained and writing. If you think anyone else would enjoy these, click on the buttons below. If you have questions, ask. If you write in response to any of these, both the people whose blogs you visit and I would love to read your responses. So, post!

I shall see you Tuesday for the diamante form [doesn't the name sound like something you want to try?], Thursday for the last words that clutter, and next Friday for more of the same. Happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 03/06/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: Poetry Prompts to Tempt You

9:20 a.m. — Atlanta

Another weekend, another show…yes, it does sound like I am ready for summer, doesn’t it? And here I thought retirement would be peaceful. My mother did keep saying: “Just wait!” You would think I had learned to listen to her by now.

We start our going into the weekend with Donna’s Poetry Tow Truck and a prompt that some of you will fall on with glee, and some will throw up defensive shields. But, I promise you that this kind of prompt will take you unexpected places. Remember that it is ultimately, your poem. If part of the prompt doesn’t work, change it. You are allowed. Donna includes her attempt at it and I find with this type of prompt it is helpful to have an example to hand. No, I haven’t shown you anything…you’ll have to visit.

We sail to Writer’s Island next where the word of the week is sizzle. Think of all the connotations the word holds for you and what a wonderful sound it makes. Head to the island to read their associations.

The next site is a wordling whirl of Sundays. Visit them to see their wordle and to read up on how they work, if you wish to post responses. Otherwise, enjoy a weekly wordle, the words of which come from responses to the previous week’s wordle. Fun!

The line chosen by Carry on Tuesday is : What if god was one of us/Just a slob like one of us/Just a stranger on the bus/Trying to make his way home, from a Joan Osbourne song. Go to the site for a link to hear the song.

Sunday Scribblings has changed their modus operandi this week and offers a phrase: better late then never.

Our single word site, One Single Impression, offers us rambling. I noticed that they say in their about: One Single Impression is a community of poets writing and sharing haiku and other poetic forms.You might check out some of the participants’ offerings.

At Scribble & Scatter’s ‘Sunday Snaps’ Susan May James has two photographs ready for you to look at. The one with the parasols is particularly inviting. If you use one, consider submitting your creation to ‘Sunday Snaps: the Stories‘  a collection of 52 photos and stories/poems.

Whether you like to read them or want to try writing one, this site is the place to play with limericks. Go to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog for her Limerick-off Mondays.

Jingle Poetry’s ‘Monday Potluck’ offers us Sketches, Images, and Impressions. Remember to pop by and watch the video with which they accompany their prompt. Next week they are giving us Thunderstorms, Floods, and Water Fury.

One of my favourite types of graphic prompts is over at Magpie Tales. They have posted Banquet Scene with a Lute Player by Nicolas Tournier. This type of painting offers many possible roads: focus on a single person, on the story of what is happening with the group, on a detail. But start by jotting down every single thing you see [as well as any comments or connections your brain is making].

For you alliterists out there here is ABC Wednesday‘s letter for this week: Say! This is Sylvia and guess what? It’s the S day and Sam Schnauzer and I are ready to climb into our Sailboat with a bouquet of Sunflowers, a bowl full of Salad, a Salami Sandwich or two to Satisfy our appetite and, of course, a pitcher of Sangria to Sip on as we Sit Safely on the Sand at the beach! Go on over for the rest of the intro and to see the lovely illustration of S.

The three words this week for Three Word Wednesday are grin, jumble, and naked. As always, visit them for their definitions. They have a particularly good source.

So many times we sweat over our poems – and that’s good, but sometimes it’s also good to kick off your shoes and dance, to write for the sheer joy of it. So grab your rhyming dictionary. Time to play! That is how We Write Poems starts its prompt. Head on over and find out what we are dancing to.

MMMMM chocolate just saying and thinking about it makes my mouth actually water. Yep! That’s all I am giving you of the Poets United ‘Thursday Think Tank’ prompt. How can you not go see what that is about? You know you want to look at photos of chocolates and read more about chocolate. And, just say the word slowly: cho…co…late.

For our last prompt we have Scribble & Scatter’sAlpha to Omega Thursdays‘. We are onto gamma this week: The gamma words for my ‘Alpha to Omega’ challenge are gynarchy (a government run by women) and graphicsVisit for a look at the root meanings of the words.

That should keep you entertained and writing. If you think anyone else would enjoy these, click on the buttons below. If you have questions ask. If you write in response to any of these, both the people whose blogs you visit and I would love to read your responses. So, post!

I shall see you Tuesday for a relaxing prompt [i.e. no form], Thursday for more words to avoid, and next Friday for more of the same. Happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 27/05/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Tuesday Tryouts: Poems — The Cinquain Form

8:43 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello, dear readers! I hope all is well and that you had a good writing weekend, or if not, a good weekend. I hope you tried the cascade form from last Tuesday, or at least played with it.

Today’s form is short. I hear the sigh of relief. And, all that is required is counting syllables and even they are not that difficult. I will give you an example of a personal cinquain, a regular cinquain, and of a cinquain stepped up a notch for those who like to wrestle with their poetry.

Because a cinquain is short it is important to keep in mind the following mantras:

POETRY MOVES.
POETRY FORMALIZES.
POETRY COMPRESSES.

AND SO, EVERY WORD IN POETRY
MUST BE THE RIGHT WORD.

A GOOD POET NEVER COMPROMISES
LANGUAGE.

The cinquain has been around for centuries as a form. At its most basic it is 22 syllables. Therefore, the title of a cinquain has more importance than a title might usually have, in that it can act as a sixth line. You can write a single cinquain, or a series of closely related cinquains, in which each cinquain acts almost as a stanza for a longer poem.

The personal cinquain is the easiest as it allows you to work around the syllable count, if you wish, and focus on the number of words: 11. You may, of course, stay traditional and work with the syllable count instead: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 in which case, don’t worry about the number of words.

I.     ONE word for the person—a name or another descriptor.
II.    TWO words that define or describe the person.
III.   THREE words that describe an event related to the person.
IV.   FOUR words that express the person’s attitude toward the event.
V.    ONE word that sums up or otherwise concludes the previous lines.

The example of a personal cinquain I have in my files is by James Penha:

Mary

Spinner.
Eyes glistening
swam far out.
Too young to die
Yet.

For the regular cinquain it’s the syllable count that counts, not the number of words, and the topic can be anything. Here is an example by Adelaide Crapsey the writer who developed the modern form of the cinquain:

November Night

2    Listen …
4    With faint dry sound,
6    Like steps of passing ghosts,
8    The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
2    And fall.

For the stretchers among you, Crapsey wrote a cinquain that works well as a model. It is not a separate kind of cinquain, but her structure works well for a copy-change:

Triad

These be
Three silent things:
The falling snow…the hour
Before the dawn…the mouth of one
Just dead.

To follow, come up with a topic to replace “silent things” and follow the poem’s structure. The syllables are still: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2.

These be
three noisy things:

or

These be
three yellow things:

You get the idea.

I expect to see my comments box flooded with cinquains, yes? They can be an addictive form, particularly the copy-change model, “Triad”.

If you have questions, do ask. If you think someone would enjoy this, click on the buttons below. I shall see you Thursday for more words to avoid; Friday for the week’s roundups; and next Tuesday for a non-form, simple prompt to let you relax and breathe. Happy writing everyone.

 
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Posted by on 24/05/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: Poetry Prompts to Tempt You

8:55 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello, all. Ready for the weekend? I know I am. Let’s see what we have to take into the weekend with us and keep us writing.

We start with Donna’s Poetry Tow Truck and an even more intriguing invitation to play, than her already intriguing prompts. Donna says: So, in a twisted marriage of something I love with something I used to despise, today’s prompt asks you to use the periodic table to write a poem with a little romance. I dare you to resist visiting the tow truck to find out what that is about. And, she offers two options.

We sail to Writer’s Island next where they start with: Whether we are or are not personally superstitious, we probably each know the typically accepted list of bad omens — black cats, walking under ladders, opening umbrellas indoors, broken mirrors, spilled salt, etc. So today let’s write from the perspective of one of these heralds of bad fortune. Then there is a So and a Perhaps. Beach your boat and disembark for long enough to read the rest of the prompt.

The next site is a new entrant to my collection: a wordling whirl of Sundays. Visit them to see their wordle and to read up on how they work, if you wish to post responses. Otherwise, enjoy a weekly wordle, the words of which, come from responses to the previous week’s wordle. Fun!

The line chosen by Carry on Tuesday is : After all, tomorrow is another day, from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Go to the site for a link to the movie trailer.

Sunday Scribblings offers an interesting word: surrender. They offer another possibility for meaning than the one associated with the word most often, so take a quick look in. Our other single word site, One Single Impression, offers us exhibition.

At Scribble & Scatter’s ‘Sunday Snaps’ Susan May James has two photographs ready for you to look at. If you use one, consider submitting your creation to ‘Sunday Snaps: the Stories‘  a collection of 52 photos and stories/poems.

Our second new entrant is a limerick site. Whether you like to read them or want to try writing one, this is the place to play. So go to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog for her Limerick-off Mondays.

Jingle Poetry’s ‘Monday Potluck’ offers us Fortresses, Castles, Palaces and Royal Houses for this week and next week they want us to look at Sketches, Images, and Impressions. Remember to pop by and watch the video with which they accompany their prompt.

If you read my blog you are probably a book person, so stop by Magpie Tales to gaze fondly at their photograph and to see if your brain starts kicking out ideas in response.

The three words this week for Three Word Wednesday are damp, incensed and skid. As always, visit them for the definitions. They have a particularly good source.

Write a poem about how the universe began! That is how We Write Poems starts its prompt, so you know you want to find out how that turns out. Head on over. After I finish this and post it I am heading to Google to start researching!

This week we offer you the simplest most difficult nearly impossible a child can do it prompt. Yep! That’s all I am giving you of the Poets United ‘Thursday Think Tank’ prompt. How can you not go see what that is about?

For our last prompt we have a new offering from Scribble & Scatter: ‘Alpha to Omega Thursdays‘. She started last week with alpha, so if this interests you head over and don’t fall behind. This week is the beta words for my ‘Alpha to Omega’ challenge are barbaros and bios.  Barbaros is ancient Greek for ‘non Greek speaker’ and is where the word barbarian stems from.  Bios means life and gives us words like biology and biography. Visit for the rest.

That should keep you entertained and writing. If you think anyone else would enjoy these, click on the buttons below.

I shall see you Tuesday for cinquain madness, Thursday for more words to avoid like the plague, and next Friday for more of the same. Happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 20/05/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: More Words to Avoid in Writing and Speech

9:28 a.m. — Atlanta

Okay, the title exhausted me. That’s it…No, but I am tired. It has been a rough week. I never thought, when I retired eleven months ago, that I would still be looking forward to summer vacation and a rest!

Are you glad to be back to no no words? Have you missed them? You are curious as to what else I am going to pull out that will make you realise with horror, that even if you don’t use it in your writing, it does crop up in your speech, aren’t you? To a degree the battle I fight is a losing one. As my mother reminds me when I begin to froth: Language evolves. Okay…but some things I will go to the barricades for because we sound more articulate, more coherent, clearer in both speech and writing without certain words which have become almost standard as a part of speech.

Well! That woke me up. I shall give you two words today, in an effort to keep this short. You have had a lot from me this week. The words are synonyms with nuanced differences, but we’re not here to worry about the differences. The words are begin/began [to] and start/started [to]. And these do appear in poetry as well as prose.

They are misused, much as adverbs are; they qualify other verbs where they are not needed. Let us begin with their meanings. Note my deliberate use of begin, meaning to take the first step in doing something. I am taking the first step in explaining where the words start and begin should, or should not be used, by discussing their meanings. Taking a first step implies there will be a next step. That is key.

On stage the music begins to play. If we read or hear that, we expect a next step. Our brains are already asking: Then what? If no next step exists, what should have been said is The music is playing, or the music plays, indicating an ongoing situation that requires no next step to make sense. On stage the music begins to play and the conductor walks out. First step signals the second step.I can still argue that begins is not needed: On stage the music plays and the conductor walks out. The fact that the music is playing implies the point that it began.

Start means to begin [take the first step] an activity, or movement. When she saw the monster, she started to run. No she didn’t. When she saw that monster, she ran. However, when she saw the monster, she began to run, but tripped and fell. First step signals the second step. Again, I can argue that started to is not required: When she saw the monster she ran, but tripped and fell. The beginning is implied by the doing of the act. She has to have started, if she is running.

In both cases, I find the statements clearer and more immediate without the qualifying of plays and ran with begins to and started to. Go back and read each. Which is cleaner sounding, less cluttered to your ear?

My second step? I gave you examples of misuse and correct use, after telling you the meanings.

As I should have been telling you with each of my Thursday Thoughts, if you have questions, if I have not been clear, or if you want to ask: What about when…please do ask me in comments. I am rarely happier than when discussing language.

Tomorrow we have  this week’s prompts roundup with two new entrants; Tuesday we shall play with cinquains; and next Thursday, the conditional tense [You are all guilty. Alright, maybe one or two aren't.].

If you think anyone will enjoy this, click on the buttons below. Send me questions if you have them. Otherwise, happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 19/05/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: More Words That Have to Go

8:57 am — Atlanta

Hello dear readers. I hope everyone is well and writing. Today, I shall speak about a group of words and then we will take a week’s break from my telling you what you should not be using. Next week I shall talk about some internet resources I have found worth bookmarking. Then, it’s back to words that should be used sparingly.

The grouping for today:

this is,
is when,
is where,
here is/are, there is/are

The main problems with these phrases are their blandness, lack of specificity, and use of verbs of being, which contribute to the blandness. They say nothing. I said in a blog about active versus being verbs: This is not to say never use being verbs. Sometimes we want to have a state of being, but too much being leaves the reader with a fuzzy, and often dull, image. There is nothing to see when something is, as opposed to something running, singing, breaking…When you use being verbs, do so with deliberation and an awareness of the effect.

You read: “Look. There’s John.” Or you read: “Look. John is standing over by the fountain.” Which gives you a picture?

You read: “Where’s the bread?” “It’s here.” Or you read “The bread is on the cutting board.” I am still using a being verb in the second example, but I am talking about the state of the bread’s location. I am being specific about “here”.

In poetry your phrasing will be less stilted, but the rules of specificity and sensory imagery still apply. You need to give the poem and your readers something to hang onto: active verbs, specific whens and wheres.Your objective is to engage the readers’ senses.

Be aware in your own reading, not just of poetry, but of newspapers, magazines, and novels, of how often these phrases appear and how much the writing lacks because of them. Be aware, too, of the writing that does not use these phrases and how much richer and more concrete what you are reading about becomes.

Short and sweet today. I am in recovery mode from having a temporary crown put on a molar yesterday. I shall see you back here tomorrow for the last of the short roundups. Next week we are into May and I shall return to the regular roundup list. Tuesday will be ballad day, and next Thursday, bookmarkable sites.

Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 28/04/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: More Words to Avoid

10:19 — Atlanta

Good day! Yes, I am running a little late: a lovely phone call from my son and a Facebook farm that required harvesting. Last week I started through the list of words for writers to avoid. Many of the words pertain more to prose writing, and even speech, but a few creep into poetry. They are all words that need to be seen and heard less. You can see the original list here.

You will have noticed [I am sure], that the first two words we dealt with, really and actually, are adverbs, and you will remember that I have said to avoid adverbs unless they are necessary to the truth of what you are writing about. The three words I want to slide out of your vocabulary today, are all adverbs, words that qualify, or set boundaries, to the words they modify. All these words have lost meaning through overuse. As you read through this, let your ear hear the difference between sentences using the no no words, and the same sentences without the words.

The first word is very from the Latin for truthful [Really? Actually? Yes, very is a cousin.]. If we say He is very tall, we are being unspecific and very weakens the word tall. Why not: He is tall. Now if he is unusually tall, we can employ simile, or metaphor: He is a giant. Now, a giant is very tall!

Very is often used to modify a word that is an ultimate, such as: She is very unique. Unique, in and of itself, implies the very. She is very evil. How can someone be beyond evil? There is no beyond. She is evil can stand alone to convey the truth about the person. Having the very distracts from and weakens the strong, specific noun, evil.

A close relative to very is so, used in the same way: He is so handsome. The so is to add emphasis and in speech works better than in writing. Again, the plain, straightforward: He is handsome, can stand alone. Or, bring simile, or metaphor, into play: He is as handsome as George Clooney.

So is also used almost as an interjection: So, are you ready? Why not: Are you ready? So, shall we go? Try: Shall we go?

The final word for today is just used as an adverb, to mean only, or simply. Again, the word acts as a qualifier. I just want to go home, or, He just won’t listen, and, That is just what I mean. Now listen with your inner ear: I want to go home, He won’t listen, and, That is what I mean. The removal of just clarifies and strengthens what is said. Now, if you want to use it to add a nuance: He was just a stockboy until they promoted him, that’s intentional use, because the word implies something demeaning about being a stockboy.

While I am suggesting removing these words from your vocabulary, what I mean is that you should use the words, as you would with all word choices, deliberately and with knowledge of their effect on other words, on the writing as a whole, and on readers.

As we head into the Easter weekend, I shall have an abbreviated Friday Freeforall…okay, I will try. On Tuesday we will look at ballads. And, next Thursday we will do another group of words to avoid. I promise a break on the words after that, before finishing the list. If you know anyone who would enjoy this, do click on the buttons below. Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 21/04/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Words You Shouldn’t Use

8:45 am — Atlanta

Good day everyone. I hope all is well around the world, or at least quiet. Keeping in mind National Poetry Month, I will keep my blogs short for April.

I think, today, I will give you a couple of lists to ponder. The first is: Do not use these words in your writing. The second is: Use these words sparingly and with deliberation. The key for both lists is deliberation — that you use the words you choose with knowledge of their effect on the writing as a whole, and on the reader. I ask that you ponder both lists and ready questions or arguments, and next week I shall go through the first list and explain why these words should not be used in your writing.

List one — do not use these words:

very,
so,
just,
really,
actually,
this is,
is when,
is where,
here is/are, there is/are,
get,
got.

List two — use these words sparingly and with deliberation:

then,
suddenly,
start[ed] to,
begin/began to,
also,
that,
it,
could,
should,
would.

I leave you to think about why these words. I will see you Friday for a modified prompt list. Most sites are modifying themselves for April, but I have seen a couple of interesting exercises. Then [note, then is one of the use with intent words], Tuesday we shall look at some acrostic variants that I enjoy playing with.

 
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Posted by on 07/04/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Tuesday Tryouts: The Simplest of Form Poems: The Acrostic

9:22 am — Atlanta

Hello all. It is time to delve into structure; not that you have not written poems without structure. Every poem contains structure of some sort, even free verse. All the free means is we aren’t following a conventional structure. If you have been with me a while then you might remember the imagistic poems, the 8×10, and the past few weeks with the dialogue poems. These are all structured although they have no name, such as: Acrostic.

Now, I heard a collective groan as you read the word acrostic. That will be because you are thinking of the simple form where a word, often your name, is taken, written vertically and words applied to each letter, that have something to do with the word:

Marvelous
And
Ravishing
Generator
Of prompts

There we have an example of a short line acrostic. Easy. Go ahead, try it — your name, your pet’s name, a planet…Do note that I wrote an acrostic a shade more sophisticated than the ones we wrote in our early years. My words work together.

Then we have the long line acrostic. Much more sophisticated and fun to do. If you create a good one, no one will notice the acrostic. This is the example I received in a class many years ago and which I suspect was created by its teacher, my friend James Penha:

Sunday my ancient aunt with knots for brows
Prepares mountains of meatballs
And chicken livers in sautéed
Garlic, olive oil, and onion
Heated ’til wrinkled brown–
Everything
Together she
Tosses as life has tossed her
In a pile of pasta every Sunday.

The content of the poem describes the word which runs down the left hand side: spaghetti. Ah! you perked up. This might be fun, yes? So try a few of the long line acrostics looking for thematic/topical connections between vertical and horizontal words.

Do leave a link in the comments, or the entire acrostic, if you achieve one. I would love to see the results.

And, as this is National Poetry Month, and some of you are going nuts trying to write a poem a day, I shall leave it there for this week and show you a couple of variants, next Tuesday. If you are writing a poem a day. let me remind you the poems can be short and the poems are all drafts. They do not have to be good. Okay? Feel better? Good.

I will see you Thursday for a discussion of fluff words in writing; and, Friday for the wrapup of the week’s prompts and exercises from around the poetry world. If you haven’t yet checked out my poetry giveaway, you might do so and sign up if you wish to try for one of the books. Happy writing.

If you think anyone will be interested in any part of this post, please click one, or more, of the buttons below.

 
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Posted by on 05/04/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Final Word on Parts of Speech

Thursday Thoughts: 9:48 am — Atlanta

This is not to say I will not revisit parts of speech. I have found with my own writing that I need to reread the things I already know for my brain to say: Oh right, need to check I haven’t indulged in adverbial insanity. Some things, such as parts of speech, are now ingrained, but others require me to reread at least once a year. In not too distant posts I will talk with you about the books I read and reread on writing.

I will let a respected magazine have the final word, so that you are not just hearing me…and the authors, Moat and Fairfax, of The Way to Write. The Comstock Review is in its third decade of publication. One of the best things the magazine does is to provide an invaluable resource in the form of an online Poet’s Handbook. Here is what they have to say about those pesky adverbs and adjectives:

There’s More To Trim Than The Trees

One of the most common complaints we have regarding the poetry submissions which come our way is the excess baggage they carry along, all those little adjectives and adverbs which do wonders in describing things in prose but which do nothing to help the development of a poem.

We find ourselves constantly telling poets that they need to trim their poems; sometimes, especially if we sense this is a beginning poet, we will show him/her what we mean by “trimming” one of the verses of a submitted poem, usually one of theirs which has possibilities. We can imagine their dismay at not seeing some of the phrases which they spent hours thinking up, wondering how some heartless creature could discard their beautifully worded phrases and lay the bones of the poem so indecently bare. Or they may find whole stanzas eliminated because they indulged in a little discourse or philosophizing somewhere in the middle, telling the reader instead of continuing to show him/her. Many an otherwise good poem has been returned for this reason. Luckily, our poets generally listen to our suggestions for improving a piece and often the poem returns, far superior in its new casting.

It is important to remember one distinction between prose and poetry. Prose is expanded language while poetry is compressed language. Adjectives and adverbs must give way to metaphor and simile. It is the idea which must be stunning, not just the words in which it is clothed.

Sometimes we are all in danger of forgetting that words do not the poem make. Before a poem is anywhere near complete, the poet should read through it and remove all qualifiers to see which ones are not germane.

Chances are, most of those adjectives will stay out once s/he sees the uncluttered poem and revision may take the poem in a slightly different and more unique direction than the poet had originally planned.
The Comstock Review – The Poet’s Handbook [the bolded sentences above are my emphasis]

So there you have it, a view by me, by the authors of a respected book on parts of speech, and a view by editors of a magazine which has been around and publishing for a long time.

I will see you tomorrow for the Friday roundup of exercises and prompts and Tuesday for the fourth in the series of dialogue poems. Next Thursday we will talk about no-no words in writing. Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 24/03/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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