Tag Archives: poetic constraint
Zimbabwe – a Scrabblegram
100 letter tiles – the joy of Scrabblegrams
Some months ago, I received a charming email from a stranger who had read and enjoyed some of my poems. The stranger’s name was David Cohen and we started following each other on Twitter, where I very quickly discovered that he posts a daily Scrabblegram.Continue reading
Counting and Rhyming – two traditional poetic forms
I always enjoy experimenting with poetic forms I’ve not come across before. Recently Paul Brookes has introduced me to two delightful forms – both of them centuries old, but new to me – that use a combination of rhyme scheme and syllabic count per line.Continue reading
We dispatched them to explore the outer planets, where we can't go ourselves: observe rings, moons, alluring mystery. Beyond Neptune one final image, of a pale blue dot clasped gently in rays of light. Thereafter, night. They can not go back: blinded, must journey on, two tiny travellers alone on separate paths through the vast, cold universe. They are not – yet – lost in space. We can still trace where they are, faint signals from the darkness telling us how fast, how far; but not for long. Soon, voiceless, they'll traverse interstellar space, bearing golden records – earth sounds, earth words. Who will hear?
A version of this awdl gywydd (a traditional Welsh poetic form) was published on The Wombwell Rainbow in November 2022.
The phrase ‘pale blue dot’ was used by Carl Sagan to describe an image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 on 14th February 1990, shortly before the spacecraft’s cameras were permanently switched off to conserve power.
Ghost Mill, revisited
Again grooved granite mill-stones grind formless flour from coarse grain. The brake wheel clanks; the wind thrums an untuned refrain.
This poem first appeared on The Wombwell Rainbow in October 2022. The form is known as a Bob and Wheel and dates back to mediaeval times.
The melodic and the logical – an interview with Anthony Etherin
The Golden Ratio, denoted by the Greek letter phi, is an irrational number that has intrigued mathematicians and artists through the centuries, featuring in geometry, number theory, physics, biology, painting, architecture, music and other disciplines. Its value to 20 digits isContinue reading
Squeezed awkwardly between the round completeness of 10 and factored convenience of 12, 11 is the odd one out. We don’t have 11 fingers or toes; we never buy 11 rolls, or eggs, or long-stemmed roses for our lover. In binary notation its digits become the three of us, on our terrace with coffee and scones in the sunlight and birdsong of June, while the radio plays Test Match Special and 11 extends its parallel arms towards the unbounded sky.
This is a square poem: there are 11 syllables per line and 11 lines.
It was first published in The Book of Penteract.
A thin slime trail meanders over the gravel to my flowerbeds, where hostas that I had tended so carefully have been reduced to tattered shreds. A robin perches among panicles of lilac as you approach with buttered scones and coffee. Light slants through leaves, glistens the slime trail silver. Everything contributes to the dazzle of this day – even snails. This Fibonacci poem was first published in The Fib Review Issue #41
Playing to our own rules: Poetic constraint
Arma virumque cano – ‘I sing of arms and the man’. With these resonant words Virgil opens his great epic the Aeneid, composed over two thousand years ago. The poem, which is nearly ten thousand lines long, is written almost entirely in dactylic hexameter – an astonishing feat of constrained writing, especially when we consider that Virgil lacked the convenience of our modern-day word processing and editing tools.Continue reading