Invented Poetry Forms – The Mariannet

My dear readers, please forgive me for being so neglectful! It’s hard for me to believe, but I haven’t posted a post on invented poetry forms (a series that has always been the mainstay of this blog) here on “Paul’s Poetry Playground” since last February, so it’s certainly time for me to do another one. Today I will discuss the Mariannet, a name I coined for the previously unnamed poetic form that the poet Marianne Moore created to write her classic poem “The Fish” first published in 1918. Since the form was invented over a hundred years ago, it isn’t exactly new, but in many ways, it will be to most poets, because as far as I can tell, I may be the first to start writing them again since Moore.

The mariannet is an isosyllabic rhyming poem, consisting of one or more five-line stanzas (quintains) with one syllable in the first line, three in the second, nine in the third, six in the fourth, and eight in the fifth and final line. The first two lines rhyme with each other, and so does the third and fourth, but the fifth is nonrhyming and does not rhyme with any other lines. Thus its rhyme scheme can be expressed as aabbx for each individual quintain (with x representing the nonrhyming line). In Moore’s original formatting of the form, the third and fourth lines were indented five spaces and the fifth ten spaces. Unfortunately, such formatting would be very difficult for me to do in WordPress, so I’m treating the indentations as optional. However, if you are writing one, and you can indent, I highly recommend that you do – it will make your own mariannet more authentic and pleasing to the eye. To serve as a model for your own attempt at the form, here is the very first mariannet ever written, Marianne Moore’s The Fish (sadly, sans indentations):

The Fish

wade
through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
adjusting the ash-heaps;
opening and shutting itself like

an
injured fan.
The barnacles which encrust the side
of the wave, cannot hide
there for the submerged shafts of the

sun,
split like spun
glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
into the crevices—
in and out, illuminating

the
turquoise sea
of bodies. The water drives a wedge
of iron through the iron edge
of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

pink
rice-grains, ink-
bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green
lilies, and submarine
toadstools, slide each on the other.

All
external
marks of abuse are present on this
defiant edifice—
all the physical features of

ac-
cident—lack
of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and
hatchet strokes, these things stand
out on it; the chasm-side is

dead.
Repeated
evidence has proved that it can live
on what can not revive
its youth. The sea grows old in it.

—Marianne Moore

After reading such a poetic masterpiece as “The Fish”, I doubt you will need any more inspiration to try your hand at writing your own mariannets. But in case you do, here are my own humble (and obviously inferior) attempts at the form:

My Uncle Max’s Most Favorite Maxim

“Sad
kids go bad.”
is what Uncle Max constantly said.
“They’ll wind up jailed or dead.”
His own son Sam seemed so damn glum.

Yet
Young Sam met
No such terribly tragic fate.
He still lives… to this date.
Never trust what your uncles say!

You Think, Therefore You Are?

Some
thoughts may come
and go, in a flash fade from your mind.
There are others you’ll find
taking up permanent residence,

Fixed
in place, mixed
thoroughly through waking life and dreams,
woven within the seams
of your being, your existence.

You
may be who-
ever you wish, you’re defined by thought.
Then again, maybe not.
Are you you… or just think you are?

Tick, Tick, Tick…

Soon
it’ll be noon.
This once new day at its halfway mark,
following the same arc
of each previous day before.

So
it will go
on this way, continue on and on
(until Mankind is gone
and the concept of Time’s erased).

One
day, the sun
may roast the earth in a fiery blaze,
bringing the End of Days,
but I pray, my friend, not today…

The Hermit

Lack-
ing the knack
for chit-chat, he fled conversations,
social situations,
and took refuge in reading books.

A
reader may
(he soon found) interact and converse
with the whole universe
yet still stay apart from the world.

He
learns what we
don’t – how to savor being alone,
through the years having grown
accustomed to his solitude.

The
company
he keeps (his own, and of Keats, Thoreau
Socrates, and Plato) —
all the Society he craves…

So what do you think of the mariannet, my dear readers? Like with all the invented poetry forms that I have the pleasure of introducing to you on this blog, I sincerely wish you will try writing one for yourself, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for reading!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Sepigram

Some of you readers with a good memory may recall a post I did last May discussing the Kindku, an invented poetry form inspired by both traditional Japanese forms (like the haiku and tanka) and Found Poetry. Recently one of that form’s creators, Cendrine Marrouat, contacted me to let me know about a brand new form that she invented just this January called the Sepigram, and asked if I might be interested in sharing it with you all. Like I did with the Kindku, I will once again let Cendrine explain the form and its rules in her own words taken from her website Cendrine Marrouat: Visual Poetry of the Mundane:

“The Sepigram is an unlimited poem that follows a “fractal” (or repetitive) pattern. The word is a portmanteau of “seven” + “pi” + “-gram” (‘something written’ or ‘drawing’). The “pi” part refers to the number π (3.14159 rounded up to 3.1416), which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Rules:

Each part of the Sepigram contains 14 lines and must be divided into 2 stanzas + 1 concluding line.

Part 1:

L1–1 word
L2–7 words
L3–8 words
L4 — repeat word from L1
L5–7 words
L6–8 words
L7 — repeat word from L1 or use a different word

L8 — repeat word from L1 or use a different word
L9–7 words
L10–8 words
L11 — repeat word from L8
L12–7 words
L13–8 words

L. 14: Use seven words from preceding lines (in any order) to make a sentence.

The poem can end here or continue.

Part 2:

L15 — repeat word from L8
L16–7 words
L17–8 words
L18 — repeat word from L8
L19–7 words
L20–8 words
L21 — repeat word from L8 or use a different word

L22 — repeat word from L15 or use a different word
L23–7 words
L24–8 words
L25 — repeat word from L22
L26–7 words
L27–8 words

L. 28: Use seven words from preceding lines (in any order) to make a sentence.

The poem can end here or continue.

As with all my other forms, sepigrams must feature positive / uplifting elements. A reference to nature is encouraged. For example: season, weather, month, time of the day, etc.

Punctuation and titles are optional.“

Cendrine graciously gave me permission to reprint on this blog the following sepigram she wrote as an example :

Night
came to us in a soft whisper
in the dance of rain at five o’clock.
Night
settled among the embers of our fireplace
like an old friend who knows her place
here.

Day
followed quietly when night forgot to look
an unruly child, we could truly say.
Day
settled in our chairs, bed and kitchen,
bringing smiles on our faces, in our hearts.

Night came, day followed, smiles settled quietly.

© 2022 Cendrine Marrouat

And now, here is my own attempt at writing a seprigram:

During My Daily Constitutional Today (a Seprigram)

Greetings
to the afternoon sun and the flock
of woolly clouds that crowd the sky above.
Greetings
to the silver sliver of the moon
appearing so incongruously in the midst of day.
Greetings,

Salutations
to each stray cat, all the squirrels
scurrying across lawns, clambering up oaks and maples.
Salutations
to people passing by (the strangers
who returned my smile, and the one who didn’t).

Greetings and salutations to one and all!

—Paul Szlosek

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed today’s post on the Sepigram, and will try writing some of your own (if you do and share them on your own blog, please make sure to credit the form to Cendrine and to link back to her website @ https://creativeramblings.com/sepigram/ ).

Invented Poetry Forms — The Skinny

In today’s post, we will be exploring the Skinny, a short fixed poetic form created by Truth Thomas, a singer/songwriter and poet, during the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop held at Howard University in 2005. The skinny is an eleven-line poem in which all the words of the first line are repeated in the eleventh and final line. The words may be used either in the original order or rearranged. Also, like in a sestina, the words in the last line do not have to be the exact match of the ones in the first but can be variations of the root word (for example, with the word “confuse” you could substitute “confusion”, “confused”, or “confusing”). All the other lines of the skinny consist of just one word, with the second, sixth, and tenth lines being the same word. The main goal of the skinny is to try to convey a precise idea or vivid image with the least amount of words possible. Although the subject matter can be about anything and the tone may vary from humorous to serious, most skinnys that have been written so far deal with prevalent issues facing society today. I have found writing them can be quite fun, and even addictive as you can witness by the following numerous examples I ended up writing for you to use as models for your own:

Mysterious Sabbath

Last Sunday morning,
My
Life
Irrevocably
Changed.
My
Newest
Ambition?
Forget
My
Last Sunday morning.

Strange Dreamscape With Felines

In these reoccurring convoluted dreams,
Cats
Chase
Rottweilers
Imitating
Cats
Pursued
By
Other
Cats
In these convoluted reoccurring dreams.

Conundrum

There are unfathomable things
Only
Found
In
Places
Only
Wisemen
Know,
Knowing
Only
Unfathomable things are there…

Poetic Truthseeker

Do I believe there’s some truth in all poetry?
No,
Some
Poems
Have
No
Honesty.
Oh
Really?
No.
I do believe there’s some truth in all poetry…

Am I Really a Snowflake?

Like a tender peach, my delicate ego bruises
Easily,
An
Unkind
Word
Easily
Devastating
My
Confidence,
Easily
Bruising my tender ego like a delicate peach.

Still Feeling Bad After All These Years

His guilty conscience still
Dogs
Him,
Kicking
Stray
Dogs
As
A
Child
Dogs
His still guilty conscience.

Perhaps Poetry Is Meant To Be Misunderstood

A failure to communicate
Is
Almost
Predestined.
That
Is
Certain
(Every
Poem
Is
A failure to communicate).

An Ancient Greek Philosopher Questions His Religion…

Who truly deserves the favor of the gods?
Certain
Folks
Who
Espouse
Certain
Beliefs,
So
Smugly
Certain
Who truly deserves the favor of the gods?

So dear readers, what do you think of the skinny? I hope you will find them as fun and fascinating as I do and will try writing some of your own. If you do, please consider submitting them to The Skinny Poetry Journal, an online poetry journal exclusively dedicated to this unique and wonderful poetry form (you will also find much better examples there than my own meager attempts.)

Invented Poetry Forms — The Singsangsong

Wow! It’s hard for me to believe but it’s been over two month since my last post on an invented poetry form, so I guess it’s time for me to do another one. Today I will discuss the Singsangsong, a form I invented which is an eighteen line poem consisting of six stanzas. The lines can be metered or not and have no fixed lengths (the length of each line can  vary within the poem). The stanzas alternate between couplets (two lines) in which the first line repeats as the second, and quatrains (four lines) in which all four lines rhyme with each other (a monorhyme). The first line of the quatrain also repeats as the fourth line (and in case of the final quatrain, the third line as well). In other words, the singsangsong’s rhyme scheme can be expressed (with capital letters representing repeated lines) as AA BbbB CC DddD EE FfFF.

Like many of the forms I have created, it”s probably more suited for light verse than serious poetry. Also because of its heavy reliance on repetition, the singsangsong is meant to be read out rather than read on the page, and should be recited in a singsong manner (hence its name) or even sung using a spontaneous, improvised melody. Here are three examples that I wrote which you can use as inspiration if you would like to try writing some of your own:

Prelude to a Panic Attack

I can’t shake this strange sensation.
I can’t shake this strange sensation

Something’s off-kilter, out of whack
Like a hidden widening crack
Or something lost I can’t get back.
Something’s off-kilter, out of whack.

What it is I cannot phathom,
What it is I cannot phathom.

I got this terrible feeling
Like a wound that isn’t healing
that sends my unsettled mind reeling.
I got this terrible feeling,

Can’t explain it but everything seems so wrong.
Can’t explain it but everything seems so wrong.

Some inexplicable event is happening here
Which floods my heart with paralyzing fear.
Some inexplicable event is happening here…
Some inexplicable event is happening here!!!

A Reluctant Departure

So long, my love, goodbye…
So long, my love, goodbye!

Now it’s time for me to leave you.
No, I’m not trying to deceive you,
Wish my absence won’t greatly grieve you
Now it’s time for me to leave you.

Arrivederci, sayonara…
Arrivederci, sayonara!

Our time together’s something we can only borrow.
Being away from you will cause me sorrow,
Yet I know I’ll be with you again tomorrow.
Our time together’s something we can only borrow….

Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen,
Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen…

I must go and we must part.
Although it is fracturing my heart,
I must go and we must part…
I must go and we must part.

Nostalgia For Summers Past

Oh, Summertime doesn’t seem the same,
Oh, Summertime doesn’t seem the same.

I remember what it was like when I was a kid
and all the groovy fun things that we did,
all the bike rides and Slip N Slides we slid.
I remember what it was like when I was a kid.

Oh, all those perfect August evenings,
Oh, all those perfect August evenings

Under cloudless moonlit skies,
Feasting upon ice cream and french fries,
Picking blackberries and chasing fireflies
Under cloudless moonlit skies.

Summer was always my most treasured season,
Summer was always my most treasured season.

I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot.
Back then, they didn’t seem so miserable and hot.
I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot,
I miss my wonderful childhood summers a lot!

Please let me know what you think of the singsangsong, and if you should write some of your own, don’t hesitate to share. Thanks so much for reading!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Kindku

In today’s post, we will be discussing the Kindku, a newly invented poetry form inspired by both traditional Japanese forms (like the haiku and tanka) and Found Poetry.  Co-created  by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis, here are the rules for writing one taken directly from their website, Auroras & Blossoms @ https://abpositiveart.com :

“The Kindku is a short poem of seven lines. The syllable pattern is 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 or 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5.

The Kindku must include seven words that are taken from one specific source — a poem, a book, a newspaper article, etc. In the case of a book or long piece of writing, those words must come from the same page.

Words must be used in the order they were found. Their placement also depends on the line:

  • Line 1 starts with word 1
  • Line 2 ends with word 2
  • Line 3 starts with word 3
  • Line 4 ends with word 4
  • Line 5 starts with word 5
  • Line 6 ends with word 6
  • Line 7 starts or ends with word 7

Kindku poems can have titles and punctuation. No matter the topic covered, they must sport a positive tone.

Kindku poets are encouraged to credit and link to the inspirations behind their pieces.”

I’d also like to add that I was curious if the seven keywords had to be exactly how they appeared in the original source material or could they be in a modified form.  For example, if one of the words was a noun and was plural in the original, could it be singular in your kindku, or if it was a verb in the past tense, are you allowed to use the word in the present tense? I contacted Cendrine, one of the co-inventors of the form, and she told me the words, indeed, have to be exactly as found in the original text (which does make writing a kindku a bit more of a challenge).

Cendrine, also graciously gave me permission to reprint two of the first kindkus ever written (one she wrote, and the other by David, her co-creator) on this blog as examples (I also need to note, if you wish, you can emphasise the seven words taken from the original source material by highlighting them in bold, like Cendrine and David did in the following kindkus, but that is totally optional):

Art Writes Itself

Art writes itself in the heart
before other things;
intent lingers for a while
inviting practice,
lost hope to find a new map.
on this continent
you are the only master.

Kindku inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art

© 2020 Cendrine Marrouat

True Self Remains

Antique, old, not forgotten
Celebrate passions
Heart wants to be filled, always
True self will appear
Mighty are our selfless deeds
Happiness remains
Fear and doubt we chased away.

Kindku inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias

© 2020 David Ellis

Like in all my posts about poetic forms, I am also including my own humble efforts at writing some for you to use as models. I must confess that I did find the Kindku at first extremely difficult to write. Surprisingly, it wasn’t sticking to the exact syllable counts or word order that gave me problems, but the primary rule about the tone of the poem. I wouldn’t say that my first two attempts (one based on Robert Frost’s “The Witch of Coos” and the other from “The Fish” by Marianne Moore”) were exactly negative in attitude, but I wouldn’t describe them as positive and upbeat either, just rather neutral and detached in tone. According to the Auroras & Blossoms website, one of the main purposes of the kindku is to be “an invitation to promote kindness, positivity and inspiration through poetry” (as you can see, the word “Kind” is even a part of the form’s name), so I must emphasise that in order to write a true kindku, you should try to follow this rule as closely as you possibly can, even though what one considers positive probably varies from person to person. Hopefully, in these later efforts, I was able to achieve that goal, but I will let you, dear reader, be the judge:

Isn’t it Obvious?

Visible things often change
from invisible,
fluctuating in between.
Like a magic charm,
your own sense of perception
detects and opens
surrounding unseen doorways.

Kindku inspired by Marianne Moore’s A Jelly-Fish

All Your Uncertainty (Like the Weather) Will Soon Pass…

Fog creeps across the landscape.
Stealthily, it comes.
Little by little, things fade
(you can’t see your feet).
It seems the world’s dissolving
(so ghostly-looking),
then turns solid once again.

Kindku inspired by Carl Sandburg’s Fog

The Way of the Seasons

Summer simmers like hot soup,
cools into Autumn.
Winter, impatient, waits to
be relieved by Spring,
Sowing snow which will melt to  
feed crops planted and
thriving neath the vernal sun.

Kindku inspired by e. e. cumming’s anyone lived in a pretty how town

There is a technique I discovered while working on the above kindkus that I feel makes them easier to write which may prove helpful to you too. Instead of randomly deciding on which seven words to use beforehand, just go through your source material, and choose a word to begin. As you finish the first line,  scan for a succeeding word that will work in your second as your train of thought develops, and so on and so on, making sure to use the words in the order they appeared in the original work.  You will find this way provides flexibility and flow, and you won’t be forced to stick in a predetermined word that just won’t fit in your poem.

If you are like me, you may even find that writing kindkus will become addictive. As you grow more confident in writing them, here is a variant you might like to try using an entire (or partial) line from one of your favorite works (be it a poem, a song, a short, a quotation, etc.) as the source of your seven words. For an example, one of my favorite lines ever from poetry is the final line of “Refrigerator, 1957” by Thomas Lux – “You do not eat that which rips your heart with joy.” Using its last seven words, I came up with the following (which I found quite pleasing):

What’s That?

That unexpected feeling 
in your stomach (which
rips away complacency,
thoughts of despair), your
heart pounding in pure delight
(each thump pulsing with
love), is known, dear friends, as “Joy“…

Kindku inspired by Thomas Lux’s Refrigerator, 1957

So I hope you enjoyed today’s post on the Kindku, and will try writing some for yourself (it is a wonderful way to pay tribute to some of your favorite poems or other written works). Remember, even if you do find the rules a bit restrictive and intimidating at first, don’t give up. Keep going, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be more than satisfied with your results. And please don’t be shy about sharing them, either with me, or the kind folks at Auroras & Blossoms. I am sure they will be thrilled to see them!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Enneao

Thinking it would be an appropiate follow-up to my recent post on the Octo, today I decided to write about the Enneao, a poetry form I invented that was directly inspired by it. While the octo consists of 8 lines of 8 syllables, the enneao (which name was derived from the prefix “ennea” meaning nine) has 9 lines with 9 syllables each (however these 9 lines are divided into 3 stanzas of 3 lines apiece). Also like the octo, the first three lines are transposed as the final three lines of the poem, but in this case, the first line becomes the ninth line, the second becomes the eighth, and the third, the seventh. The fourth and sixth lines rhyme together, while the fifth line rhymes with the second (and eighth). The rhyme scheme (with capital letters representing the repeated lines and small letters the ones that rhyme) can be expressed as ABC dbd CBA.

To demonstrate how close the enneao is to the octo, I thought it would be fun to take one of the poems I wrote as a model for the octo, “Our Seemingly Unending Journey”, and rewrite it as enneao.

So first, to refresh your memory, here is the original poem:

Our Seemingly Unending Journey
(The Octo Version)

Where we will precisely end up?
I don’t think we shall ever know.
Seems a long time since we started.
In which season? I don’t recall.
Perhaps Winter or maybe Fall.
Seems a long time since we started,
I don’t think we shall ever know
where we will precisely end up.

By just adding an extra line, and an extra syllable to each of the pre-existing ones, you can see I was easily able to convert it into an enneao:

Our Seemingly Unending Journey
(The Enneao Version)

Just where we will precisely end up?
I do not think we shall ever know.
Seems like a long time since we started.

In which season? I cannot recall
(I do remember there was some snow…
so perhaps Winter, or maybe Fall?).

Seems like a long time since we started,
I do not think we shall ever know
just where we will precisely end up.

And now here is another example of an enneao I wrote:

Yes, There’s a Vacancy…

No one stays at the Ritz anymore,
most folks don’t realize it’s still open.
This old hotel has seen better days.

Once it was the hippest place in town.
People flocked here, but that was back then.
Now the owners pray it’d just burn down.

This old hotel has seen better days.
Most folks don’t realize it’s still open.
No one stays at the Ritz anymore…

I sincerely hope you enjoyed learning about the enneo today, and might even try writing one yourself (and if you do, please share!)  Thank you so much for reading as well as your continued support of this blog!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Octo

In today’s post, we will talk about the Octo, not to be confused with a host of similar-sounding poetry forms such as the Octameter (a form we discussed previously on this site), the Octain, the Octet, and the Octopoem (which is also often referred to as an Octo). Created by James Neille Northe, the octo is a poem of eight lines consisting of eight syllables apiece (like my own invented form, the streetbeatina). The first three lines of the poem is repeated as  the last three, but in reverse order. In other words, line 1 becomes line 8, line 2 becomes line 7, and line 3 reappears as line 6 (the exact words and their order must remain the same, but the punctuation can be altered). Also lines 4 and 5 rhyme together,  thus the rhyme scheme can be expressed as ABCddCBA (with the capital letters representing the repeated lines and the small letters the ones that rhyme).

If you would like to try your own hand an writing an octo, here are a couple examples I wrote which you can use as models:

The Agony of Parting From You

You don’t even dare think of me.
Dream of good times, as long as
your precious life keeps going on.
Perhaps we shall meet up again,
yet it’s best to forget. Til then,
your precious life keeps going on.
Dream of good times, as long as
you don’t even dare think of me.

Our Seemingly Unending Journey

Where we will precisely end up?
I don’t think we shall ever know.
Seems a long time since we started.
In which season? I don’t recall.
Perhaps Winter or maybe Fall.
Seems a long time since we started,
I don’t think we shall ever know
where we will precisely end up.

So what do you think of the octo, dear readers? Like always, I sincerely wish you will try writing one for yourself, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for reading!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Homonymization

Happy Poetry Month, Everyone!

My dear readers, I apologize for being so lax about posting lately, but to make it up to you, and hopefully provide inspiration for you to write more poems this April,  I will be introducing to you today what I believe is a brand new invented poetic form: The Homonymization.

A homonymization is an experimental poetry form of my own invention, in which the entire poem is written using homophones – words sounding the same but having a different meaning and spelling. Because of this, the poem, at first glance, will appear to be totally nonsensical, but will make sense when either spoken aloud or sounded out in the reader’s head. Along with standard and familiar ones (such as “sail and sale” and “be and bee”),  the homophones used can also be proper nouns or names (such as “Waring” substituting for wearing), foreign words (“oui” for “we”),  and letters (“q” for “queue”). Also one word can represent two (“iamb” for “I am”) or two words one (“bee leave” for “believe”).

As an example, here is a homonymization I wrote, along with its “translation” printed in italics below: 

Hour Sensored Whirled

Wee awl Liv inn eh sensored whirled,
R tolled watt two bee leave inn, watt two dew.

Wee dew knot no watts rite oar fare
Oar reel. Eye no your knot Abel two

Sea mi, oar here watt eye c’est,
Sew eye Hyde inn plane site

Waring cheep read shoos,
Weight four mourning lite

Four sum won, sum buddy
Two notis mi, sew eye no

Iamb reel.

Our Censored World

We all live in a censored world,
Are told what to believe in, what to do.

We do not know what’s right or fair
Or real. I know you’re not able to

See me, or hear what I say.
So I hide in plain sight

Wearing cheap red shoes,
Wait for morning light

For someone, somebody
To notice me, so I know

I am real.

So what do you think of the homonynization, folks? Is it a poetry form you’d like to try, or is it just too weird for your tastes? If you do decide to take up the challenge (I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results), I’d love to see your homonymization, so please don’t be afraid to share.

Thanks so much for reading, and please enjoy the remainder of Poetry Month!

Invented Poetry Forms – The Cascada Veinte

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over three months since I last introduced a new invented poetry form here, a series which until recently had been the mainstay of this blog. I hope you will all forgive me for this inexcusable negligence, but I am back today with what I feel is a truly great one. Chances are you may not be familiar with the cascada viente poem (since it was only invented this year), but I am sure you are with its amazing creator, the very talented poet, writer, and blogger Brad Osborne and his wonderful blog Commonsensibly Speaking. Those who read Brad faithfully knows every Tuesday Brad posts a new installment of his weekly series, Whittled Words, which (in his own words) highlights “the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith”. There last August, Brad posted his very first attempt at inventing a new form of poetry, the “Cascada Veinte” (Spanish for ‘cascading twenty’). It was inspired by the Decima, Villanelle, and Roundabout forms and created in honor of a great artist and good friend, Francisco Bravo Cabrera.

The cascada viente is a twenty line poem containing five stanzas of four lines a piece (quatrains). It is isosyllabic with no required meter and has seven syllables per line. Its rhyme scheme consists of cascading alternate doubles and can be expressed as abab bcbc cdcd dede efef.

Brad has graciously given me permission to post his poem “One Is the Loneliest”, the very first cascada viente ever written (and no doubt still the best) to serve as a model for your own attempt at the form:

One Is the Loneliest

It’s a crushing kind of tired
Not of body, but of soul
Grace seemingly expired
Not a feeling at all whole

Playing a singular role
Acting it well to the bone
Oneness is taking its toll
Tired of being alone

Wanting words have not atoned
And un-warmed sheets yet to show
Worth slowly being dethroned
A fragile child’s ego

Longing heart that does not know
How to let love be set free
That one on which to bestow
The heart chained deep within me

Cherished one, stay not from me
Don’t make me wait much longer
Come and bring some proof to see
That love can make me stronger

—Brad Osborne

So what do you think, folks? I, myself, really love this form, especially because of its classical feel. If I didn’t know better, I would swear the cascada viente dated back centuries, not just a few months. Though I was a bit intimidated by the cascading alternate doubles rhyme scheme (it is, at least for me, somewhat tricky to master), I was inspired to try my own humble effort at this great new form, and believe it serves as a perfect vehicle for the following pastiche of one of my favorite Edgar Allen Poe poems (with a topical twist):

The Return of the Conqueror Worm
(A Sequel Set in Current Times)

Behold! The conqueror worm
Returns again to the stage
In the guise of a vile germ,
Its audience in a cage,

As it heralds in the age
Of Zoom (with us quarantined,
Trapped like words upon the page).
This strutting, villainous fiend

Having our lives guillotined,
Cut off from family, friends
Forcibly being pulled, weaned
From them til this madness ends-

Tragicomedy that blends
Mournful pathos with jest,
A sick farce which all depends
On its denouement. The rest,

Just exposition at best
And a bad plot twist unseen:
This play has no hero, lest
It’s truly Covid-Nineteen…

—Paul Szlosek

Thank you so much for reading for reading today’s post, and I hope you will try your own hand at writing this brand new form (the world sorely needs more cascada viente poems!)

Invented Poetry Forms – The Biolet

Having received such an enthusiastic response to my last post on the triolet,
I figure it would be fitting to follow it up with one on its obscure and even shorter Portuguese cousin, the biolet. The biolet was invented by the Brazilian poet Filinto de Almeida and first appeared in print in his book Lyrica in 1887. It is a six line poem, and like the triolet, the first two lines are repeated as the last two lines, however in reverse. The rhyme scheme of the biolet thus can be expressed as ABbaBA (with the capital  letters representing the repeated lines). The length of the lines, in my opinion, can vary, and be either metered or unmetered. Most of Almeida’s original biolets in Portuguese (I have only found a handful written in English on the internet) were in iambic tetrameter (8 syllables), but I, myself, have also been playing with iambic pentameter (10 syllables), iambic hexameter (12 syllables), and unmetered lines of random lengths as well.

I feel the key to writing a biolet is coming up with the first two lines, and then reading them in reverse. If they still make sense in the reverse order, creating the two remaining two lines of the poem should be a snap. If they don’t, try altering them until they do, or start fresh with two brand new lines. Writing biolets can be very fun, and quite easy to do. The subject matter can be almost anything, and the tone can be either humorous or serious. I hope my following examples might inspire you to write some biolets of your own:

From the Files of the Love Detective

Solving the case of your broken heart?
It’s going to be harder than I thought.
It seems your heart really loved a lot.
and no clear clue why it broke apart.
It’s going to be harder than I thought
solving the case of your broken heart.

Final Warning 

On an old gravestone, carved in slate,
I read this menacing epitaph
warning of our Creator’s endless wrath
and all humanity ‘s eventual fate.
I read this menacing epitaph
on an old gravestone, carved in slate.

A Biolet for Those Who Cannot Sing

In his unrequited ardor for Fay Wray,
I always empathized with old King Kong.
Since he could not express his love in song,
he had to show his passion in another way.
I always empathized with old King Kong
In his unrequited ardor for Fay Wray.

Biolet for the End of Day

Each night, when darkness descends like a curtain,
I light a single candle and start to pray.
Yes, tomorrow will be another day,
but of only that I can be certain.
I light a single candle and start to pray
each night, when darkness descends like a curtain. 

A Frozen Memory

On a chilly afternoon in late November,
I stood at a kitchen window and watched it snow,
And although that was over fifty years ago,
For some unknown reason I can still remember
I stood at a kitchen window and watched it snow
On a chilly afternoon in late November.