NaPoWriMo 2016: day fifteen

Day fifteen!

Halfway through the month!!!!!!!

Doesn't that make you want to go back and reread all fifteen of the poems you've written this month? It does me. But maybe we're better off waiting. Let's not get sentimental yet. We have fifteen days ahead of us.

(You've already done fifteen days, so this will be a piece of cake, right? RIGHT!)

My plan for this week is to walk you through a few different types of formal poems (starting with a fun one that I know you'll love).

And since formal poetry isn't everyone's piece of cake, I'm thinking I'll find a way to throw an alternative prompt in here. Read through to the end for the alternative prompt (I'm going to relate it to the formal poem we're studying).

Today's form is the pantoum, It's the English version of a Malayan form.

It's essentially an interlocking repeating poem. Each line is designated with a letter: ABCD and so on. Unlike with our rhyme schemes, the entire line repeats in a pantoum.

The stanzas repeat the lines like this:


Stanza 1: A B C D

Stanza 2: B E D F

Stanza 3: E G F H

Stanza 4: G I H J (or of it is the ending stanza: G A H C

(Or to quote the poetry foundation:

"It comprises a series of quatrains, with the second and fourth lines of each quatrain repeated as the first and third lines of the next. The second and fourth lines of the final stanza repeat the first and third lines of the first stanza."


Here's a spectacularly great example (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a life long insomniac):

Another Lullaby for Insomniacs

BY A. E. STALLINGS
Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder.
With no ring on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.

She turns her moon-cold shoulder
And tosses off the cover.
You cannot hope to hold her:
She has another lover.

She tosses off the cover
And lays the darkness bare.
She has another lover.
Her heart is otherwhere.

She lays the darkness bare.
You slowly realize
Her heart is otherwhere.
There's distance in her eyes.

You slowly realize
That she will never linger,
With distance in her eyes
And no ring on her finger.


So obviously, the key with pantoums is to write really strong opening sentences, then to find the way they rearrange themselves as you continue writing. (You can stay as true to the original sentence as you wish - the tendency in modern poetry is to change and twist the sentences in clever ways, like here.)

And the key to that (and our alternative prompt) is to find something significant to write about. This could be a feature in your life (your insomnia, your relationship or your love affair with books). Or a dream of your ancestors (these poems are all fantastic, click the links!).

So, if you don't want to write a pantoum today, pick a significant event, person, thing in your life and write about that (and maybe the lines will organize themselves into a pantoum anyway. And if they don't, no worries).

Happy poeming!