Tuesday, August 2, 2011


It's been a long time since I posted here. One of the things that has happened is I was guest blogger for Karen S. Elliott, a writer, editor, proofreader, who wanted a piece on poetic forms. Here's what I posted on
Exploring Poetry Groups...the poetic form

One of the unexpected benefits of moving from Florida to Greenville, SC, 6 years ago was meeting a published English professor who had formed an ongoing poetry group. After hearing me read my work at a local coffee house, he invited me to join them. Five years later, the group of 10 is going strong and many of us are published on our own and also as a collective with “Fruit of the Banyan Tree”(Orchard Park Press, 2009).

A great feature of being in a dedicated poetry group such as this one is the supportive feedback given to each member. Each month, we study a poet and get to read what we’ve come up with. Engaging in this way spurs the creative juices to flow faster and with more confidence. And you are always exposed to new resources and inspiring ideas.

Despite having been an English literature major at NYU and very familiar with writing in sonnet form, one of the poetry group members introduced me to many other interesting poetic forms. That this group member is an Engineer makes her interest in this type of writing stand to reason both literally and metaphorically. She brings the information to the table and challenges us to produce one of our own.

Many of these forms go back to old European styles. They each require a certain number of lines, some rhyming, some repeating, in a fixed sequence. www.poets.org is a good online resource for poetry forms and ‘how to’ write them.
The first one she suggested is called the Triolet. Seven lines, some repeat, a certain rhyme pattern. My own attempt missed the exact formula but I was very satisfied with the effect nonetheless. I felt the inspiration of the form caused the following poem to be born:

To Hafiz
A waiting hole in the god’s flute
Seeks thick lidded Krishna’s blue kiss.
He’s paused…wooden instrument mute.
She tastes the ripe offering fruit,
Will his music ever begin?
A waiting hole in the god’s flute
Seeks thick lidded Krishna’s blue kiss.

Another form I tried was the Tritina. This one does not ask for rhymes at all but a choice of three words that will end three stanzas of three lines in a certain order and be used in the final, sum it up, sentence. With a true form poem it is typical to announce the form before the title as:


The Birth of Drama

Had detachment attended the show that began
as a fevered fantasy, staged within his head,
the reviews might have shortened the actor’s reach,

the dialogue’s delivery not been heard to reach
levels that rose and swelled while memory began
increasing his spotlight’s focus beyond range of a cool head.

Nothing entered from stage right to stop the bullet to her head
that propelled her life story’s potential to reach
a conclusion far sooner than imagined when it began.

When his plot began to reach for revenge, drama came hurtling out, head first.

Poetry forms like the Elizabethan sonnet and the Japanese haiku are more commonly known. Regarding Haiku there are several variations and the requirement is number of syllables per line, not word count or rhyme. The standard haiku format is three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables per respective line. The meaning should paint an evocative picture. Haiku has no title and usually no punctuation.
Here’s one of mine:

Thundering rainstorms
My garden singing life songs
In the key of green

In my own experience, working with forms is a two way street. A poem that wants to be born will frequently choose its own structure but there are times that the form itself, as with my attempt at Triolet, may call forth specific poetic imagery.
Learning more about poetry and getting feedback are definitely huge benefits of belonging to a poetry group. But I can’t ignore another important aspect for me; getting to know and share with people who have a deep common interest and who expand my own vision as they express in their own voice and unique point of view.

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