Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jazz Haiku Ensembles

This is the ninth, and final, week of Khara House's Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. Thank you, Khara, for helping us learn about both poetry forms and our own writing.

Being the wonderful teacher that she is, Khara had us review all we had studied during the first eight weeks in order to complete this week's challenge. The final challenge is to create a form of our own.

This year, I have found myself reminding people that haiku is an important segment of jazz poetry. To that end, my form is the jazz haiku ensemble. Following are the guidelines:

1. The subject of the poem will be something related to jazz (person, place or thing) or contain elements of jazz.

2.  Each stanza will be haiku and the minimum number of stanzas is two (a jazz haiku duet).

3. I won't hold you to the common 5-7-5 line length, but each haiku may have only 17 syllables.

4. The last stanza must be an American Sentence, which we had to write as part of last week's challenge.

Since August 29 is Charlie Parker's birthday, I wrote the following jazz haiku trio in his honor:

Bird’s Song

I hear Bird’s songs play.
He has been gone a long time,
but never left us.

Silky saxophone.
Bird could make it swing or moan.
Made Bebop the rage.

I wish he had been with us longer in body as well as in soul.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poetry One-Liners

This week, Khara House's Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge focuses on what I would call poetry one-liners. The challenge is to write several monostiches and American Sentences.

The monostich consists of a single line that should be self contained. Following are a few of my attempts:

Life is the ultimate improvisation.

Creativity has a mind of its own.

The notes played at 18th and Vine drift through the world.

The American Sentence is a variation of haiku invented by Allen Ginsburg. It is a one-sentence poem consisting of 17 syllables. Here are two I wrote:

The soul speaks in words and images even when we do not listen.

Sound may soothe or shock whether it is made by symphonies or cymbals.

While working on this week's challenge, I learned that simple does not mean easy. Give these forms a try! I think they are made for the Twitter generation.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Prose Poem Made From Stone

We're in week 7 of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week's form is the Prose Poem. It's a poem written in prose or prose written poetically. I'm leaving the explanation to Khara House at OLJ.

For inspiration for this week's challenge, I decided to look through some of my photographs. (I'm sorry. I just can't help myself.) I chose one that I took in Arrow Rock, MO, last fall. The poem tells you what I see in the photograph.  What do you see?

Made of Flint

The stone visage looks out from the rock. It’s features have been chiseled over time. Perhaps a piece of one eye helped guide an arrow to its mark. Was a splinter from the cheek large enough to spark a fire to keep travelers warm? Did the chin split when a father collected a souvenir for his son? The face shows that life leaves scars and it wears them with dignity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poetry Form-Pleiades

We're into the 6th week of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week's form is the Pleiades poem.

The rules for this form are:

  1. Seven lines
  2. The title is (usually) one word
  3. The first letter of each line is the same as the first letter of the title (alliteration)
Click here to go to Our Lost Jungle for more detail.

Here's my attempt. Yes, I've been watching the Olympics.


Visualize your goal.
Vivid images take shape.
Valient effort is required daily.
Vanquish your doubts.
Vow to do your best.
Victory comes in different forms.
Value the journey.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Poetry and Photography

About a year ago, I decided to get a new camera. I hadn't been taking many pictures in recent years, but I thought I might try to take some to pair with poems I had already written. As I began taking pictures, I found myself writing new poems inspired by some of those pictures. That is ekphrastic poetry-poetry inspired by visual art.

Last week, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Ontario. We walked some beautiful nature trails. The poem below isn't really an ekphrastic because it was inspired by the walk. However, I knew I had a photograph that would go with it.

The Climb

The path appears
straight at first,
narrow but smooth.
It turns toward the trees,
filled with exposed roots
and hanging branches.
It will take you to the brink.
When you look over the edge,
the beauty of the valley unfolds.

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