Haiku For You

Sometimes, in the bustle of the holidays, we all need a moment to slow down, a brief second to restore your energy. What better way than to read or write a haiku? The haiku poem is a style based off of 3 lines and 17 syllables. The first line consisting of 5 syllables, the second 7 and the third back to 5. It is very short and the restraint makes each word’s importance that much greater. The other importance in a haiku is the emphasis on nature and the season. Another version is even shorter consisting of a 3-5-3 line pattern. Here is a winter haiku just for you:

A cardinal waits

Winter boughs bend in the snow

He folds wings for warmth.

Take a moment to breathe in the rush of the season and read or write a short haiku.


First Writer’s Workshop, a Poetry Exercise

I’ve mentioned before how I love taking lists of words and using them as writing prompts. I think I even specifically mentioned my names and types of flowers list. I love using it for poetry. Names of flowers are oftentimes very rich and interesting sounding. So for my first Writer’s Workshop, I thought I would use that as an exercise.

What I did was pull names from my list of flowers, names I was drawn to, it’s different every time, or at least I try to choose ones I do not use often. Anyways, here is was I chose:

Bells of Ireland
Calla Lily
Lily Stargazer
Lace Fern
Statice Blue

I really liked how many of the names sounded like actions; stargazer, statice, lace, even solidaster. So I went with that thought and came up with the following poem:

With dawn
Bells of Ireland ring
Over caspia,
Caspia, blossoming
In the rising light,
Like cherries -raw and ripe,
Reddening, deepening
With each new ray.

The morning brightens
Like solidaster suns
And we run
Through the afternoon
With ferns lacing our fingers
Our soft footsteps slow
The wind sweeping up
An amaryllis air.

In the dusk, we pluck
Our bleeding hearts
From their stem
And watch as petals pull back
Releasing a fresh white within.

And as the darkness settles,
Light closes on our meadow
Full moon blooming
As we lay
Lily stargazers.

I like the movement, the use of the flowers and I like the ideas in the poem. Reworking it and not sticking strictly to my list of words, I think will help shape it up even more. The last stanza seems to need a little more content, and I tried really hard to put in a word that would mimic the sound of stargazer, but nothing was working.

I encourage you all to try your own poem, either using the list of flower names I chose, or ones you choose yourself. If you would like to share your poem in the comments, I would love that! I’ll comment back on everyone’s with my own thoughts. And finally if you would like to leave thoughts about how my poem turned out, please do so. 🙂

A Poem to Read

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share another poem with you guys. This one is from about 4 or 5 years ago, and although my style has refined and changed in the last few years it holds a lot of similarities to my current trends in writing.

This poem follows an exercise you may be familiar with, known as the cut and paste or the black out. In this exercise you take a couple different forms of writing, things very different from each other (like a garden magazine and news article), for this I chose a Game Informer Magazine and an article about customs in Mexico. After all the editing, I think the article vanished from the poem, but I kept the tie with the article in Game Informer tight. It’s easy for one piece to overshadow the other, but I think what this exercise is supposed to help do is bring together words you wouldn’t naturally think go together and inspire you to use words in unexpected ways. On one level, I do not think this exercise was successful. I did not meld the two writings together in a way that takes the reader away from both and into something new. However, I think the words I have chosen to put together are interesting and create a story of their own. It has bits that I love and bits that I think still do not work well, but I like the rhythm and the energy, the mystery and the journey and I hope you like it too.

Dear GI

From day and back
No checkpoints
The recent forgettable years.
the mind is an untold legend.

A player, stunning,
Far to endure the fight.
your great hunger.
Page your overlooked
The true.

Yet enter the interest,
my decided Wanderer.
The thoughts, though never the same, have us related.

You will climb a vast city,
The darkness receding before you
To see beyond the flesh and bone
Beyond the sickness that ravages within.

A few first falls
and familiarity forms.
You will hone a finer final force.

You will learn
Warned seals blaze madly
Worn fields grace you sadly.

Command and
Touch Oblivion.

Facing yourself
Trace your memory.
Challenging your
Longest Journey.

Of Shadow Hearts and

Embrace a horrible ending.

For you are:
Landstalker, Wanderer.

Guide to Poetry: Terms and Forms

I probably should have written this article before my villanelle post, but I was excited and exasperated by the villanelle at the time and wanted to share, but, it is due time for me to give you all a poetry run down. I’m sure for some people most of this will be a refresher, however I tried to pick a couple obscure terms that might be new and useful.

Poetic Terms

  • Alliteration- Repetition of initial sound in two or more words within a line
  • Assonance- Repetition of vowel sounds in two or more words within a line
  • Allusion- Reference to something outside of the poem
  • Ambiguity- Suggestion of more than one meaning
  • Anaphora- Repetition of word or phrase at the beginning of lines
  • Animism- Giving animals human characteristics
  • Antithesis- Balance or contrast of one thing against another
  • Apostrophe- Direct address to something/someone not present
  • Blank Verse- Unrhymed, metered (iambic pentameter) verse
  • Caesura- A natural pause within a line
  • ClichĂ©- Overly familiar words, phrases or metaphors
  • Connotation- A word’s figurative, associated and nuanced meanings
  • Consonance- Repetition of consonant sounds within a line
  • Couplet/Tercet/Quatrain/Sestet/Octave- Stanzas consisting of two/three/four/six/eight lines
  • Denotation- Word’s dictionary definition
  • Diction- Word choice
  • End-Stopped Line- Line whose end corresponds with a natural pause (comma or period)
  • Enjambed Line- Line that ends without a natural pause
  • Foot- Unit of meter
  • Free Verse- Unrhymed, unmetered verse
  • Hyperbole- Exaggeration/ Overstatement
  • Image- Representation of a sense through concrete description
  • Internal Rhyme- Rhyme that occurs anywhere within lines
  • Irony- Discrepancy between what is said and what is meant
  • Line- Unit of poetry
  • Line Break- End of a line
  • Litotes- Understatement (often delivered by saying the opposite of what is meant)
  • Masculine Rhyme/Feminine Rhyme/Triple Rhyme- one syllable rhyme/ two syllable rhyme/ three syllable rhyme
  • Metaphor/Simile- Comparison of two unlike things / Simile uses “like” or “as”
  • Meter- Pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
  • Metonymy- Word that substitutes for a thing associated with it. (the crown = the king)
  • Narrative- Including a story
  • Near-rhyme/Off-rhyme/Slant-rhyme- Inexact rhyme
  • Onomatopoeia- Words who imitate their meaning
  • Persona- Fictional, mythical or historic speaker
  • Personification- Giving human qualities to an inanimate object or the abstract
  • Point of View- Perspective of the speaker (first, second or third)
  • Prose Poem- Poetry in block or paragraph form
  • Refrain- Repetition of one or more lines at intervals in a poem
  • Repetition- Reiterating a word or line within a poem
  • Rhyme- Repetition of sounds
  • Rhyme Scheme- Pattern or sequence of rhyme; first sound represented by “a” the second with “b” etc…
  • Rhythm- Pattern made from stresses and pauses and their placement
  • Stanza- Unit of poetry made up of two or more lines, separated by space
  • Symbol- Something that represents another thing
  • Synecdoche- A part that substitutes for the whole
  • Synesthesia- Description of one sense using another
  • Voice- Combination of diction, syntax, images, rhythm and sound

All of these devices are common in poetry, however the point in creative writing is to be creative and use common things in new and unique ways. So, if you don’t write poetry, experiment using these devices in your own way. Maybe, in a short story alliteration in a particular part will extenuate the ambiance.

I hope to delve a little further into some of these terms and deffinetly more forms of poetry in future posts. Until then, if you have any questions, suggestions, or if you have a specific topic you would like me to expand on let me know -leave a comment, or email me- and I will be glad to post it.


The “Villain”elle

Okay, so it’s called the villanelle… without the villain, but I wanted to discuss this form of poetry because it can feel like a villain. I find this form hard to write and I have a lot of respect for anyone who is able to write one that works. I have written several villanelles, but I think only one of them was a success. What makes this form so difficult to write is the rhyme scheme is interwoven with refrains (and yes plural… REFRAINS). This creates a complexity that the writer pursues in 19 lines. Comprised of 5 tercets and a concluding quatrain, the refrains alternately repeat as the last line of each stanza, and together as the last 2 lines of the final stanza. By having 8 lines of your poem comprised of the same 2 lines creates a unique challenge. The writer should strive to have those lines read both fresh and reminiscent. The repetition is a great device, if it succeeds.

Villanelle Form

1 Refrain 1 (A1)
2 (B)
3 Refrain 2 (A2)

4 (A)
5 (B)
6 Refrain 1 (A1)

7 (A)
8 (B)
9 Refrain 2 (A2)

10 (A)
11 (B)
12 Refrain 1 (A1)

13 (A)
14 (B)
15 Refrain 2 (A2)

16 (A)
17 (B)
18 Refrain 1 (A1)
19 Refrain 2 (A2)

The Line number is signified by the numbers on the left, 19 total. Each break represents a new stanza: the first 5 stanzas are tercets (meaning comprised of 3 lines each) and the last stanza is a quatrain (comprised of 4 lines). The “A’s” and “B’s” throughout the poem represent where there should be rhymes. All “A” lines rhyme with “A” lines and all “B” lines rhyme with “B” lines. While dissecting poems, in order to discover the rhyme scheme you may use as many letters to signify new rhymes as you need, here there are only 2. The last detail for the villanelle is that there are 2 refrains: Refrain 1 (A1) and Refrain 2 (A2). These full lines repeat where shown. Notice that the refrain titles include “A” which signifies that both refrains should rhyme not only with each other but with all other “A” lines as well.

An Example

Below is a famous villanelle, Do not go gentle into that good night, by Dylan Thomas. Notice the form and the rhyme scheme as well as the refrains.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The first refrain, “Do not go gentle into that good night” seems like a command whenever it is repeated, however, the writer is able to change that between lines 5 and 6 where instead of a command it becomes an action. The “they” from line 5 carries down to the refrain (line 6) and makes it so it reads “they/Do not go gentle in that good night.” This a great example of servicing the lines both fresh and reminiscent.

If you are brave, try one for yourself. They are difficult but rewarding, even if unsuccessful. 🙂