Sunday, May 8, 2011

TOLT Poetry Exercises 16, 17 and 18

The next section of The Ode Less Traveled focused on even more poetic forms.  For exercise 16 I had to write a triolet about my love (Claire Sanders) and then a rondeau redoublé about any topic of my choosing.

A triolet is an eight line poem, with two rhymes, in which the first (A) and second (B) lines are used thusly:  ABaAbbAB.  I guess since the A line is used three times, that's where the "tri" comes from.  Here's mine about Claire, sorry it is so mushy.

Of all the girls I've ever met
I love Claire Sanders the best.
I'm lucky she's the one I'll get
Of all the girls I've ever met.
We'll set out on quest after quest
And build ourselves a little nest.
Of all the girls I've ever met
I love Claire Sanders the best.

I wrote all of these on the train from White River Junction to New York.  When Mr. Fry said I could write a rondeau redoublé on any topic, I asked Claire and she said I should write it about our pet rabbits, Patty and Selma.  Rondeau redoublé is another one of those really complicated forms.  Like the triolet, it only has two rhymes, and it reuses the first four lines, one line in each of the subsequent stanzas.  It looks like this:

Stanza 1: A1 B1 A2 B2
Stanza 2: b a b A1
Stanza 3: a b a B1
Stanza 4: b a b A2
Stanza 5: a b a B2
Mini Envoi: repeat the first four words of the poem

So the key here was to write the first four lines very carefully, and to pick end words that had lots and lots of rhymes.  Here's what I came up with, which is also kind of mushy...  sorry!

We own two bunnies who love to hop.
Patty is white and Selma is brown.
They are cute from bottom to top.
Watching them washes away any frown.

Up they'll go, to sniff the air, then down
To bound around until they drop.
If napping was a country, they'd have the crown!
We own two bunnies who love to hop.

Patty cleans herself all day, the fop.
But give her lots of hay and she'll act the clown.
Selma peed again, grab the mop!
Patty is white and Selma is brown.

Once Claire made them each a gown,
But neither liked the extra prop.
Bunnies' fashion sense is not renown.
They are cute from bottom to top.

After a long day, down they plop.
To them "cage" and "home" are the same noun.
They'd still be cute if they tried to stop.
Watching them washes away any frown.

We have two bunnies.

Okay!  If you've made it this far without barfing, you should be able to get through the rest with no problems.  The next chapter of TOLT was all about comic verse, including the Limerick!!!  Alas though, the exercise was not to write some limericks of my own.  Oh well, I'll get back to those as soon as I'm done going through this book.

For exercise 17, Fry first suggested that I write a parody of my favorite poet.  I knew right off the bat that I would not be able to do that.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my new favorite poet is Ogden Nash.  I have been steadily plowing through The Best of Ogden Nash (as of this writing I'm on page 244 of 438).  But still, I don't think I could write a poem in his style.  So instead, I decided to attempt Fry's second option, which was to create a cento.

One creates a cento by pulling real lines from various poems by one poet, and then rearranging them and trying to make them have a different meaning.  Luckily, I had my collection of Nash with me on the train.  I flipped through randomly, trying to come up with lines that were somehow related.  Here was my fist false start:

The citizens of Oklahoma
Their water has a chlorine aroma

Of course, this was cheating, because I took two different poems where Nash had rhymed the word "Oklahoma."  Oh well!  Then I tried to get something going with water-based imagery:

The fisherman, oh the fisherman,
I'm hoping not to see one.
On the shores of Lake Michigan
Slumbered a princess waiting to be won,
That whales are mammals, just like us
A shrimp who sought his lady shrimp,
We laugh at how he looks at us.

Hmmmm... as you can see, that stopped making sense pretty quickly.  It's too bad I couldn't find some way to turn those first two lines into a story told from a fish's perspective.  Oh well!  The only couplet I built which I didn't scratch out, was the very simple:

I'm only waiting for my cue,
That's how much I love you.

Good enough for me!  And apologies to Mr. Nash, who is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

In the next section of the book, I was very excited to finally, properly learn something about haiku, and some other forms of poetry from far away lands.  It turns out, according to Fry, that haiku are traditionally about a season and have a "kigo" word, which focuses on the weather or atmosphere.  For exercise 18 I had to write four haiku, one for each season.  As you have seen elsewhere on this blog, english versions of haiku usually have 5 syllables, then 7, then 5, which I have used here:

"Shluf" the sound of snow
Sliding off the roof next door
New snow collecting

April showers
Bring May flowers, but not here
Instead we get mud

Homesickness is worst
In the hot humid summer
I miss Seattle

The crisp autumn air
Red, orange, yellow and brown leaves
My favorite season

Well, that's it for this week.  Next week I will post the LAST exercises from TOLT and then I'll finally dive back into writing some poorly-crafted limericks, just for the fun of them!

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