Monday, September 25, 2006

Poem Spark Sept. 25-Oct. 2 - Syllabic Verse

Greetings and salutations!

Today, I found myself thinking about line length. There are so many different ways of using the line to enhance your poem: you can decide to use short or long lines or a combination of both to control the pacing, you can focus on which words you'd prefer to end a line to put particular emphasis on the most important, you can consider whether or not to enjamb which also can determine the rhythm of the poem, and/or you can rhyme the end words to give the poem interesting sonics. There are many other considerations I've neglected to list.

I believe that focusing on the number of syllables in each line can open up the way you think about your poems: using a set number of syllables can make all your lines long or short, can force you to be creative with end-words, can make you consider enjambment in a new light. Because you are placing a mechanical framework upon your words, you find that you sometimes pay a lot more attention to the words you choose to form an idea than you might if you were writing freely.

Some of the most famous examples of syllabic verse are the Japanese forms of haiku, and tanka. Additionally, there is the Alexandrine, a French syllabic form where each line has twelve syllables and generally one caesura.

Because English does not traditionally have many forms that use syllabics (mostly because English is accentually, rather than syllabically, rhythmic) does not mean that there aren't great poems written where the poet counted his/her syllables. Here are a few:

Philip Levine What Work Is (averages 9 syllables per line)

Marianne Moore To a Steam Roller (each stanza follows a syllabic form: 5-12-12-15)

Dylan Thomas Fern Hill (you tell me what the syllabics in this poem are!)

This week's spark: write a syllabic poem. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Poetry equals shoes

I received a "Commended Award" in the 2006 Margaret Reid Contest for Traditional Verse. This means that I won $50, which = shopping, which = new shoes!

And here's the winning poem:

"Tonight I walked into the sunset"

—sonnet for Georgia O’Keeffe

Here the fragile white of age-bleached skull
curves through a hinge of jaw like youthful skin,
and there, two restless eyes seem fraught with all
she could not say. She didn’t paint within
the lines, couldn’t choose the safe belief
that everything is simple. Stark as grief
her violet buildings rise beneath a moon
so white that bone shows through. There the noon
sun lights the mountains. Here you see how hands
crack wide her heart: she painted sound, used blood
to mark the earth. Because she knew that strands
of life are drawn of clay and bone, not mud,
she wrote: “so give my greetings to the sky. . .”
And in her art the skulls nod in reply.

© 2006 Christine Klocek-Lim

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poem Spark Sept. 18-25 - E. E. Cummings

Salutations fellow poets!

Recently, a member of the forum suggested I create a poem spark based on one of E. E. Cummings' paintings. Before reading that suggestion, I didn't realize that Cummings was also a prolific painter. You can look at some of his work here: The Paintings of E. E. Cummings.

This made me think, "What else don't I know about Cummings? Or other poets?" I did some more investigation, and uncovered this interesting tidbit: Cummings never wanted his name to appear in lowercase. You can find the article about that interesting fact here: Not "e. e. cummings"

There is even more information about Cummings' poetic work available at here: E. E. Cummings

Fascinating stuff. There must be more that I don't know about so many poets; information that is readily available on the web if one looks for it. So, I will be using the poem spark to do a "poet focus" every now and again. There is always more to learn about poetry, and poets, and the history of this art.

However, to get back to Cummings, I'm sure everyone knows his work in poetry uses huge leaps of imagination with punctuation, form, words, etc. Sometimes, the exhuberant nature of his poetry almost overwhelms the sense of it, but not always. Underneath his marvelous fascination with the visual and the innovative lies the seed of a great voice.

Here are some of my favorite Cummings' poems, each with a singular message that threads the pieces of the poems' language into a coherent whole:

next to of course god america i

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

And here is one of E. E. Cummings' paintings I particularly like:

lone figure and tree in stormy sunset

This week, write a poem using E. E. Cummings style (innovative punctuation, etc.) OR write a poem inspired by the painting I linked to above, "lone figure and tree in stormy sunset." Most of all, be creative and have fun!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Autumn Sky Poetry - Number 3 online


The third issue of Autumn Sky Poetry is now online.

Read poems by Julie Carter, Janet Lynn Davis, Dennis Greene, Jeremy Heartberg, Jan Mueller, Stuart Nunn, Pat Paulk, Laura Polley, Gary Charles Wilkens, and Robin Yim.

—It's all about the poetry.

Christine Klocek-Lim, Editor

Monday, September 11, 2006

Poem Spark Sept. 11-18 - Poem titles

Greetings and Salutations fellow poets!

Today's poem spark is about one of the more important elements in a poem: the title. So many times I've decided to read a poem because it had an interesting title, or decided not to read a poem because the title seemed, well, boring. It is the very first thing a reader sees, whether in a table of contents, in a list of poems online, or at the start of a book of poems, not to mention when beginning to read a poem. As such, the title is an extremely useful device for opening a conversation with your reader. As Ted Kooser states in his book, "The Poetry Home Repair Manual:"

Ted Kooser wrote:
. . . a title isn't something you stick on just because you think a poem is supposed to have one. Titles are very important tools for delivering information and setting expectations.

Thinking about poem titles, I went to Google, typed in "poem titles" and found this page: Writing the River - Poem Titles. Look at how many interesting titles are listed. Titles like this one, "During the Long Wait These Dreams" and this one, "even when the moon don't shine" make me wonder what those poems are about. They are intriguing and interesting.

Here are some poems with titles that encourage me to continue the conversation and read the poem:

Heather McHugh What He Thought

Lawrence Ferlinghetti [Constantly Risking Absurdity]

James Wright Goodbye to the Poetry of Calcium

Sometimes titles begin a poem as its first line:

William Stafford Traveling Through the Dark

Henry Reed Naming of Parts

Sometimes a poem ends with its title:

Michael S. Harper Nightmare Begins Responsibility

Stevie Smith Not Waving But Drowning

This week, write a poem that uses either its first line or last line (or phrase) as its title. Have fun and be creative!

3 Quarks Daily 9/11 remembrance

From the editor of 3 Quarks Daily:

We have 15 original pieces on 3QD about 9/11 today expressing very different viewpoints from very different vantage points. Do have a look at them here.
All best,

S. Abbas Raza

Saturday, September 09, 2006


OCHO #5, the print companion to MiPOesias Magazine, is now available.

Poems by Reb Livingston, Helen Losse, Christine Klocek-Lim, Grace Cavalieri, Amy King, Lars Palm, Daryl Rogers, Lesley Jenike, Karl Parker, Luc Simonic, Tom Blessing, Dave Ruslander, and Marl Hartenbach.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Best American Poetry 2006

Here is a link to the Best American Poetry 2006 Table of Contents:

Best American Poetry 2006

If you scroll down, you will see that Reb Livingston's poem, "That's Not Butter" was chosen. That poem first appeared in MiPoesias, an online journal created by Didi Menendez and edited by Amy King.

Does this mean that the online poetry community has finally caught up with print journals? Perhaps.

Spring and all

after WCW

So much is lost in the seasons,
so much slips between
that infinitesimal sliver
of change: cold to hot in an instant,
one night’s sleep that becomes years
stretched out into the waking hours.
Here is where the crumpled red
paint of the barrow crouches
in the aged fist of the barn.
Here is where some old poet
used to walk, noticing everything,
taking note of the simple runnel
of rain that glazed the wood.

Nothing can make this landscape
walk backwards. How would we know,
anyway, which is better: yesterday’s bright
color, today’s comfortable weariness?
If we remember the white chickens
and the rain that slicked everything,
who is to say why the barn, once
shiny and upright with paint
and use, became ordinary,
now slouches into the horizon
like an old and familiar poem?

© 2006 Christine Klocek-Lim