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Playing with Words

April is national poetry month and I just got back from giving a poetry reading and teaching a workshop at Riverwinds Gallery in Beacon, NY. I read from my new chapbook “Nine for Odin” and taught three forms of poetry: the cento, the word sonnet, and free verse. We had a lot of fun playing with words and I discovered that all my participants were damned fine poets in their own rights.

To encourage folks to write (and not just to write, but to do so in the middle of a workshop, with strangers around) I threw together a few word sonnets off the cuff as a demo. Since two of them are about Mani, our moon God, I wanted to share them here. A word sonnet is a form of poetry first developed in the 1980s. Unlike a traditional sonnet which has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter with a specific rhyming schema, word sonnets are fourteen word poems, wherein each word forms one of the traditional fourteen lines.

Mani I

The
Scarlet
Moon
Whispers
Kisses
On
Mad
Minds
Intoxicated
By
His
Hungry
Glow.
Seduction.

 

Mani II

Our
Moon
God
Is
A
Hunter.
He’s
Always
Capturing
Hearts
Unawares,
A
Perfect
Honey-trap.

 

Worm-words

Poetry’s
A
Worm
In
The
Mind,
Licking
Lapping
Loosening
Words.
The
Pen
Spits
Fire.

Since I also taught them how to write a cento, I whipped off one very brief one to demo that as well:

Rage, rage, let thy flames feed on me.
The earth is a mistake and a rifle butt.
You will fill the frail shell’s rooms
To a pyre’s golden blaze.
Dark night renders.
Deep in my soul there lies a treasure,
Like the roar of thunder after lightening.
It is the soul I fling.
It is the foul I fling,
Enthroned by storms,
With pleasure that shivers:
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.

[With respect to Andrew Bely/C. Bowra, Osip Mandelstam/R. Tracy and E. McKane, Marina Tsvetayeva/D. McDuff, Aleksandr Blok/J. Stallworthy and P. France, Aleksandr Pushkin/D.M. Thomas, Fyodor Tyutchev/C. Tomlinson, Velimir Khlebnikov/P. Schmidt, Catherine Tufariello, W. H. Auden.]

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Three Word Sonnets for the Old Man

I.

Chewing
Phonemes
Sucking
Sounds
I
Seek
Him.

With
Words
Not
Mine
He
Is
Found.

II.

I
Am
A
Valkyrie
Pinned
By
Her
Own
Spear
To
The
Earth.
Ravens
Bleed.

III.

Pulp
In
My
War
God’s
Mouth,
Low-hanging
Fruit,
Incandescent
In
Dying.
He
Is
Ravenous.

A Word Sonnet for Dionysos by Ellen

My colleague Ellen graciously allowed me to post this. I love how it captures something of Dionysos’ presence.

Dionysos
by Ellen

The
thread
slipped
softly
from
my
fingers,

as
I
fell,

into
His
Grace-full
dance.

 

 

If you guys are brave ;), write one for your Gods and post here in the comments.

 

(grace-full…i.e. full of grace, not graceful. Poet’s prerogative to play with language).

Three for Odin

Some nights I just can’t sleep and tonight was one of them. So since i’m reading a book of sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay, I decided to look up the sonnet form. I don’t think i’ve ever written one. While checking that out, I came across a modern invention first seen in the mid 1980s: word sonnets. These are small sonnets where instead of 14 lines in a particular rhyme scheme, there are 14 words, each word a single line (–a traditional sonnet typically has 14 lines.). I decided to try my hand at it and it’s more difficult than I thought but I managed three.

I.  

Gnawing
fire
I
cast
myself
aloft,
and
fell
a
laughing
cinder
into
my
gods.

 

II.

gore
eyed
god
spat
down
from
the
Tree,
croaking
worlds–
I
came
into
being.

 

III.

laughing
burning
it
is
all
the
same.
bloody
knowledge
is
the
fruit
of
pain.