Folks, it looks like I sort have messed up with my last post about the tennet poetry form, which I believed I was the sole imventor. I was definitely mistaken there! On a whim, I decided to do a search on the internet for “tennet poetry form” (something I should have done before I posted), and to my chagrin, discovered someone else also invented another version of the form with the same name. It seems that Md. Ziaul Haque, a poet from Bangladesh (who is also known as ” King of Words”) first published two different tennets with the rules on how to write one on both the PostPoems and Poem Hunter sites in November 2018. Although I can’t definitely determine who first invented the form or coined the name (I know originally wrote my version over 10 years ago with my poem “In Praise of Those Tackling ‘The Bambi Factor ‘…” , but I didn’t bother to name the form until August of last year) ,Mr. Haque was certainly the first to publish it. Therefore I feel he is entitled to both the rights to the name and credit as the creator.
That leaves me in a dilemma: what to do with my version of the form? i mean we can’t have two different tennets out there, that would cause confusion among poets if one of the forms would catch on. The most easiest and logical solution is just to rename it. So after much consideration, I decided to redub it “the Decemnet”, which is derived from the Latin word “decem” meaning the number ten, and (like the “tennet”) “net” the last three words of sonnet. So from now on, I will refer to the form I created as a decemnet and the one invented by Mr. Haque as a tennet.
Although the decemnet and the tennet are both poetry forms that are somewhat based on a sonnet and have ten lines ( which may be either metered or unmetered and can vary in length), there are several differences. While the decemnet consists of a quatrain (four lines) and a sestet (six lines), the tennet is composed of two quatrains and a couplet (two lines). Mr. Haque has created two variations of the tennet: one patterned on an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet with a rhyme scheme of abba abba cc, and another one similar to the English or Shakespearean sonnet which follows a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd ee.
I think most poets will find the tennet both an elegant and challenging form to write. Why don’t you try writing one today? For inspiration, here are two examples I have written myself, one in each variation:
Relinquishing the Tennet
Please believe me. I honestly didn’t know it,
but someone else may have an equal claim
upon the “tennet” name.
The form might have been first created by another poet.
I am so embarrassed (does my red face show it?).
A!though our poetry forms are not quite the same,
I still feel tremendous guilt and shame.
Yet I have a shot at redemption and I won’t blow it.
I will do the honorable thing and testify before the U.S. Senate
that “King of Words” may just be the true inventor of the tennet.
But what about the discarded ancient gods,
the ones that no one ever prays to anymore,
one time sacred, now considered merely myths and frauds
like Dionysus, Quetzalcoatl, and Thor?
So is that the fate of all deities through out the ages?
Do these immortals simply dissipate, truly die,
or be reduced to being characters in comic book pages?
Were they ever real or their existence always just a lie?
Does even a once almighty god, drained of our belief,
becomes as pointless as a piranha without any teeth?
You can also read Mr. Haque’s original two tennets at the following links:
The tennet is a relatively simple poetry form that I invented (at least compared to the others I created). It consists of two stanzas: a quatrain (4 lines) and a sestet (6 lines). The quatrain has a rhyme scheme of abab, while the sestet has one of cdecde. The lines can be either metered or unmetered, and there are no fixed rules on their length (which can vary through out the poem if you wish). The name tennet, as you probably have already figured out, is derived from “ten line sonnet”, and coincidently is a palindromic word (which reads the same forward and backward).
I find the tennet to be a fun form to play with, and hope you will try your hand at writing one. If you do, please consider posting your tennet in the comments for all to enjoy!
For inspiration, here are two examples of tennets I have written:
In Praise of Those Tackling “The Bambi Factor”
(From Ideas and Words Taken From Francine
D’Allesandro and Buzz Busby)
Eco-scientists deserve high marks
for creating a “Cuteness Scale”,
which tells us how much we despise sharks
but adore the porpoise and the whale.
They studied just how cuddly
is the cuttlefish,
and determined how few among us
who wouldn’t gladly hug a tree,
yet ever dream or wish
to fondle a fungus.
A Country Not Only For Old Men
It’s not that nostalgia just inflicts the old,
but that the very young have a lot less to miss –
all their favorite candy bars are still being sold,
they have yet to savor the thrill of their first kiss.
We long for what is gone, what we no longer have,
like the widower who pines for his original wife.
Some say even newborns grow homesick for the womb.
Do memories provide comfort, act as a soothing salve?
Maybe the dead eternally reminisce about life,
fhe resurrected feel sentimental for the tomb.
Although I often write in free verse, I have a certain fondness for poetry forms, not only the standard, well-known ones like sonnets, haikus, and sestinas, but especially the weird and obscure like the minute and alphabet poems. In fact, my obsession with them has gone so far, I have repeatedly invented my own.
I am pretty sure you already know what a poetry form is, but recently while conversing with a seasoned poet I never met before at a local open poetry reading, I was shocked to discover that she had no clue what I was talking about. So just in case, you are like that particular lady, form poetry is simply a type of poem (like the previously mentioned sonnets, haikus, and sestinas) that has a distinct set of rules regarding how the poem is to be written, such as the lengths of line, the number of lines and stanzas, subject matter, etc.
When I was teaching poetry workshops for children in libraries and elementary schools, I would often compare writing free verse and form poetry with free play or playing a game such as hopscotch or tic-tac-toe. One is play that is only restricted by your imagination, and the other has a set of rules which you need to follow. Both can be extremely fun, it all depends on what type of play you are in the mood at the time.
Many poets have told me that they could never write a form poem, that they would find it much too difficult and restricting. Yet I actually feel the opposite to be true. For me, it can much easier to follow the rules of a poetry form, which liberates me from having to make such needling decisions as how long to make the lines, or how many lines or stanzas to write. Rhyming too can be freeing, limiting your choice of words at the end of your lines, instead of forcing you to choose the perfect word from almost infinite possibilities.
If you have never tried writing poetry forms before, please give it a try. It is not as daunting as you might think, and you just might enjoy the process. To that end, in my next blog post, I plan to introduce you to a brand new poetry form, one that I invented myself….
I don’t want this to be a site where I just publish my own poems, but a place to celebrate this literary art form that I (and presumably you) love so much. I plan to discuss different aspects of poetry, talk about both favorite and newly discovered poets, share my experience on writing and getting published, and introduce you to some invented poetry forms I have discovered, and even created.
Although I have been writing poetry for most of my life, and have published many prior blogs on a a variety of subjects (gargoyles, street art, vintage matchboxes, playing cards, etc.), this is my first attempt at combining both interests and creating a poetry blog.
I always thought of poetry as a form of play, so this blog is an invitation for you to join me and come play with some of my favorite toys: words and verse.
Hope to see you back soon!