Messages from the past take many forms: ancient structures, buildings, and artefacts; burial sites; rituals and symbolism; stories, poems and songs shared through generations; sculptures, paintings, works of art.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Poetic form
Seasons and Landscapes: A fortune teller origami poem
When I was a child, my friends and I enjoyed crafting and playing with paper fortune-tellers, a form of origami made with square paper folded in a sequence of triangles.
The illustration below is of my fortune teller poem Seasons and Landscapes in two dimensions. You can download a PDF version to print out and fold into shape here. Folding instructions are given here (or here if you prefer a video version).
A Penrose Stairs Poem
This poem was inspired by M. C. Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending (1960), which depicts figures on a staircase that appears to rise – or descend – in a continuous loop. This impossible construction is named the Penrose stairs, after Lionel and Roger Penrose.
The poem can in principle be read from almost any starting point, and in any direction.
‘We imagine we are climbing: every step is about 20 cm high, terribly exhausting and where does it get us? Nowhere; we don’t get one step further or higher.’
M. C. Escher, On Ascending and Descending, 1960.
During a recent constraint-based creativity workshop, we tried our hand at writing a mesostic. If you don’t know what mesostics are, join the club; I hadn’t heard of them before either! A mesostic, I discovered, is similar to an acrostic in that it is a poem or piece of text containing a word or phrase that is read vertically through the horizontal lines. The difference is that in the case of a mesostic the vertical column of letters intersects somewhere within each line rather than at the beginning or end.
Just for fun, here’s a double mesostic that I wrote, inspired not only by the workshop but also a common occurrence in our household. Fill in the blank letters and then read downwards to reveal what’s missing.
Which comes first – the chicken or the egg?
How does the formulation of a poem begin? With an idea, an image, a phrase, a subject, a feeling, a memory, a structure?
I’ve been thinking about this question in relation to my own writing. Unsurprisingly, there is no single answer. On rare occasions a poem plops almost fully formed into my head (inconveniently, this tends to happen in the middle of the night). The trick then is to capture it, to write it down before it flits off and disappears like a migrating bird.Continue reading
The days are lengthening. Harbingers of spring pierce through resistant soil; spikes of daffodils and early tulips mingle, tight buds sprinkle thin syringa stems. A few oak leaves linger, crisp-curled and dead, rasping in the flowerbed – but death is a stranger now. Pale hellebore blushes shyly, fern fronds prepare to unfurl. Clouds lift. The air is clear and bright. All winter I have dug hard cold ground, hoed, mulched, dreamed of growth. Now, accompanied by bird song, I plant words.
This poem was first published on The Wombwell Rainbow in February 2023. It is a variation of a masnavi (or mathnawi), a poetic form that has its origins in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu writing.
Listen to the riversong – meltwater from mountain flanks tumbling its own path between resistant rocks. Meltwater from mountain flanks trickles down through peat and moss, conjoins to become a burn tumbling its own path; tugs at roots by shaded banks, crashes, eddies, foams. Between resistant rocks salmon leap against the flow, glinting in the sun.
This poem was first published on The Wombwell Rainbow in January 2023. It is a trimeric, a recent poetic form devised by Dr Charles A. Stone.
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.