Sunday, January 25, 2009

January Poetry Prompt 2 - Fibonacci Poems

Science isn't my strong point (I'm still in awe of the fact that music can emerge from a thin silver disc...) so it's probably better that I direct you to the Wikipedia article on Fibonacci numbers.

Not that you have to read it to write a Fibonacci poem though. Here are the basics:

The first number of the sequence is 0, the second number is 1, and each subsequent number is equal to the sum of the previous two numbers of the sequence itself, yielding the sequence 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.

So a Fibonnaci poem is made up of 6 lines as follows:

1 syllable
1 syllable
2 syllable
3 syllable
5 syllable
8 syllable

And what's the point, you might ask?

Well, with any strict form, it gives the left-hand side of the brain something to fuss over (order) while the right-hand side of the brain can play a little.

I played with this:

a storm
shakes the house.
This morning sunlight
through the palm crowns like a blessing.

Maybe it's not enough... too much description, not enough significance? But it's a good exercise to encourage you to choose words that really matter, words that have to try and carry as much weight and information as possible.

And I'm sure you'll come up with some better ones.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January Poetry Prompt 1 - Wonderful Surprise

Well, here's the first prompt for 2009. I hope you enjoy this and the ones to come during the rest of the year, and enjoy exploring what you want to say, or need to say, or even discover what you never thought you could or would say!

It might be useful if you write in response to each of these instructions before scrolling down to read the poem the exercise is inspired by. That way you'll have your own, imaginative draft to work with during your editing processes.

You don't have to restrict yourself to concrete images, but they will help a reader 'feel' the scenes you create, so think about including things you can see, touch, hear, taste, smell, as well as making direct statements. But most of all, let your imagination run riot.

1. Imagine you are standing in the middle of emptinesss.
2. Fill it with something so it is no longer empty.
3. Now start walking and see what you filled the emptiness with everywhere else you go.
4. Keep walking and seeing it around you in different locations.
5. How long will you keep on walking and seeing it?
6. You will find something else, something that creates a vivid contrast - describe it.

Here's a poem by Kelly Cherry:

Song of the Wonderful Surprise

Start with the fact of space; fill it up
with snow. There will be snow in the sky,
snow on the ground, snow in the mysterious courtyards.
You taste snow's tang, smell snow, feel snow on your face.
If you walk forever, you will not come to a place with no snow,
but one day, looking around, you will find
a green apple hanging from a spray of snow.

Kelly Cherry
from God's Loud Hand
Louisiana State University, 1993

Write well. I look forward to reading your poems.

Friday, January 09, 2009

December Prize Poem

Many congratulations to John Kenny for his sonnet, 'Peeking'.


You always used to cheat at hide and seek,
peek between your fingers, count in tens.
I'd scuttle up the stairs, avoid the creak
on the third step, under the bed and then
wait, not giggling, stifling a cough,
not breathing even, wait to see your feet.
You'd bounce upon the bed to squash me, laugh,
then drag me by the ankles from beneath.

We haven't played that game in many years.
You hid from me, I never thought to peek.
I'd peek now, but I can't see for the tears.
I'm counting now, in years, I'll find you soon.
This is our final game of hide and seek.
You have but slipped into another room.

John Kenny

The sonnet is an ideal form for containing ‘emotion’. The control of the metre and the rhyme scheme can act as a restraint and add a sense of dignity to what is being said. Having said that, the octave in John’s sonnet is quite a light-hearted account of a childhood game, the playfulness of which is communicated through the sounds of words like peek, and giggling and squash.

But at the sonnet’s turn, as it enters the sextet, the mood changes with a simple declarative sentence that brings us up to the present day. We pause there at the line’s end, and the sentence’s end, before reading the remainder of the poem, which uses the same language from the game, yet now we’re very aware of the adult resonances, what hiding and seeking and counting mean to us as the years pass and we lose people we love.

The final line draws on a sermon given by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) after the death of Edward VII, and this ‘intertextuality’ serves to remind us that the human emotional experience does not change.

Congratulations, John, on a superbly constructed sonnet that carries its powerful message simply and honestly.

Send me an email with your postal address and I’ll put your ‘prize’ in the post.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year

I hope 2009 brings you everything you need for a creative year. I'm reading the December poems over the weekend so here's a little interlude for you to enjoy.

Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange

Pick a number from one to ten. Okay, now multiply that number
by nine. You will have a two-digit number. Add those two digits.
Now subtract five from that number. Take that number and find
its corresponding letter in the alphabet (1=A, 2=B, etc.). Now
think of a country that begins with that letter. Now name an
animal that begins with the last letter of the country. Finally, name
a fruit that begins with the last letter of that animal.

Kevin Griffith
from Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange
Pearl Editions 2007

I'm sure there's a logical explanation but... it's more fun not knowing!