Monday, November 25, 2013

Short Forms

This rime stayed on the leaves all day in the shade of the house. 
Two groundcovers that grow by the front door 
ornamented with fallen cottonwood leaves. 
I like the varied shapes and colors of the leaves

Today I got two books: New Goose (short poems Lorine Niedecker wrote between 1935 and 1945 in forms adapted from Mother Goose rhymes) and Urban Tumbleweed; notes from a tanka diary by Harryette Mullen. These poems from Mullen's daily walks are written in three lines, not five, and she tries to stay within the 31 syllable tanka form limits. Together with the newly arrived biannual Upstate Dim Sum 2013/II (a haiku periodical from a four-person group, with an invited guest for each issue) this has started me thinking about Short Forms for poetry. Besides haiku. What might one learn by writing a group of poems in related short forms? What things around one might affect them? I've written many haiku, but not very many tanka, and I don't recall ever using Mother Goose as a model. In Mullen's case, she used nature observations in her neighborhood and a local Botanic Garden to teach herself about living things, as well as to enrich her poetry.

One interesting thing about the Mother Goose poems is that they were written at the end of the Great Depression and during World Wat II. These were tough times for many Americans and Niedecker and her family and friends were much affected by hardships. The editor, Jenny Penberthy, makes the point that "The New Goose poems share the anti-authoritarian, subversive bent of their models, reflecting on the politics and economics of the time."

I'll share some examples from these books soon, For tonight, here is one of Tom Clausen's haiku from Upstate Dim Sum 2013/2, page 7.

glint from a car
a stray thought
of Camelot
Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment