Wednesday, July 7, 2010

TOLT Poetry Exercises 7, 8 and 9.

The next section of The Ode Less Traveled was all about accentual verse, which was much simpler than all of this crazy FEET and METER nonsense. The idea here is that each line has four beats. The first three beats are alliterated (all start with the same sound, or have the same sound in their stressed syllable, such as "comPELLing" and "apPEALing"). Then the fourth beat is something entirely different. Mr. Fry sums this idea up with the phrase "Bang Bang Bang CRASH!" It doesn't matter how many syllables there are, or whether or not the lines are the same length or anything, as long as those four accents are in there.

So for Exercise 7, I was supposed to write 20 lines about what I would and wouldn't like to eat, using the "Bang Bang Bang CRASH!" form of accentual verse. Here's what I came up with, which was written last October, while I was staying with Claire in Oakland.
I don't delight in dips and sauces
I'd rather taste a recipe's original intention
Condiments could conceivably ruin
Food that I'm fixing to feast upon
Mayo and mustard mustn't be spread
On a sub or a sandwich made especially for me
When I feast on fries, you'll find no ketchup
My bread isn't buttered, or blanketed with jelly
Some folks suspect this sauce aversion
Hints at a hindrance of happiness in me.
I often feel that food is just fuel,
But cooking with Claire in her kitchen together
Has shown me that sharing food surely enhances
Its taste and tenderness, not to mention
My appreciation of, and my patience during the preparation of a meal.
Perhaps my habit of hermit-like eating
Forced me to feast too fast without
Stopping to smell the "spices" so to speak
Next was syllabic verse, which is pretty much the exact opposite of accentual verse. For this one, all that matters is the number of syllables on a line, and the accents don't matter in the least. Like HAIKU! which have 5, 7 and then 5 syllables. There are all kinds of other weird forms that this type of poetry takes. For exercise 8 I had to write two poems using syllabic verse: 1) two stanzas of alternating 7 and 5 line syllabic verse about Rain and 2) Two stanzas of verse running 3,6,1,4,8,4,1,6,3 syllables (?!) on the subject of Hygiene. Here's the first one, which is obviously written by a Seattleite:
No one seems to like the rain
They call it dreary
People get depressed in towns
Where it ever rains

But if you are born and raised
In a land of rain
Raindrops upon your skin feel
More welcome than sun
And here's the second one - yet another poem about beards!
Once upon
A time, people believed
Were certainly
Uncleanly and brimming with germs.
And so, people
Thus cutting short a great

We now know
Beards are okay, if kept
Soap and shampoo
Wash your beard just like your head hair.
Pour, lather,
And repeat, to keep beards
Looking good!
Exercise 9 was one last mark-up of a poem written by Coleridge, to teach his son the most commonly used metrical feet. After I did that, I had finally completed THE FIRST CHAPTER of this book! Phew! And this is only page 122 of 357 (?!) Really, I'm on page 200, but I'm trying to space out these entries, so they don't get TOO long. Even though this book is taking me forever to get through, I am still loving every minute of it. I only wish I had less stuff going on, so I could devote more time to it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

My first poetry post in six months...

This blog looks brand new
But all the content is old
Except this haiku!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TOLT Poetry Exercises 4, 5 and 6!

Sorry for the long silence on this blog. It hasn't been for lack of poetic activity on my part, just a lack of blogging. Back in October I finally finished reading The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, I'm sure in large part because I had worked through the first half of The Ode Less Traveled. It's definitely given me a greater appreciation for poetry, the same way I appreciate paintings more after having taken a few painting courses.

I've got a backlog of TOLT exercises to post, so I'm going to do 4, 5 and 6 in this entry and then try to do another big batch in the next entry to catch up to my current place in the book.

Exercise #4 had me write 16 lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, and then I "scored" each line: 2 points for enjambment, 2 points for hendecasyllabic or "weak" line endings, and 5 points each for trochaic or phyrric substitutions (if you want to know what all these crazy words mean, you should totally get the book! I was supposed to use current newspaper headlines as my inspiration, but I didn't have one handy when I was writing, so I chose fake headlines... Here are some examples, with their "scores" after each line:

The walls of Azkaban have fallen down (5)
Eaters of Death have gone and run away (5)
Surely this means that Voldemort is back (5)

Why must the world insist on typing Qwerty? (7)
Dvorak is a better choice by far! (5)

All in all I scored 104 points for my 16 lines. The author, Stephen Fry, got 104 points for his, so I feel pretty okay about this...

The next chapter of the book dealt with different meters. The "PENTA" in "Iambic Pentameter" just means 5 sets of iambs, so this chapter had Iambic TETRAmeter (4) and Iambic TRImeter (3), etc. etc. Exercise #5 had me write two quatrains of eight-syllable iambic tetrameter, two quatrains of alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter and finally two quatrains of trochaic tetrameter. Also, I was actually allowed to RHYME this time, so I did. I'll just post the first two here, since they are my favorites. The topic was television.

A dozen years have passed since I
Escaped the clutches of TV.
In childhood, my brain did fry
So many hours were logged by me.
Each afternoon from light to dark
I sat in front of cathode rays,
Instead of playing in the park,
Or spending time creative ways!

"Reality TV?" you ask,
As if I'll list my faves.
But years it's been, since I did bask
In TV's current craze.
I used to watch sitcoms galore
and game shows by the hour.
Escapism I did adore,
But real life seems so sour.

The next section of the book dealt with "Ternary Feet" which is a foot with three sections, instead of a binary foot (like iambs, trochees, spondees, etc.) So there are Anapaests (weak weak strong), Dactyls (strong weak weak), Molossuses (strong strong strong) and Tribrachs (weak weak weak) and then Amphibrachs (weak strong weak) and Amphimacers (strong weak strong).

For exercise 6 I had to write some anapaestic hexameters about how to get to my house, and some dactylic pentameter about cows (?!) I'll post the prior, as my effort on the latter is too horrible to post, even on this silly blog! These lines are crazy long, so they got word-wrapped. I put some slashes in to notate the actual line breaks...

Of the many attractions of White River Junction, my house is the best./
The apartment is three, with a letter of C, okay now here's the rest:/
One oh four is the building, the street is called "Main." Is there anything left?/
You ask "Where do I find it?" the answer's up North, in Vermont's Eastern cleft

Ugh... pretty bad, huh? Well, the good news is that Excercise 6 ended all of the crazy accentual-syllabic verse stuff. The next section is only about accentual verse, which was much easier. I'll try to post about it soon!