Poetry Friday: The Villanelle People

OK, you know Liz Garton Scanlon, of Liz in Ink? You know how she’s always so enthusiastic and passionate about stuff? Well, a month or so ago, she emailed our group that wrote the crown sonnet a year and a half ago (that long?). And she proposed that we each write a villanelle, all seven of us. And the two repeating lines would have thanksgiving in one line and friends in another. Sounds simple, right? And despite family issues, health concerns, crushing school and work deadlines, travel, and the Thanksgiving holiday, all six of us responded with a yes. Liz can do that. She could sell ice to Inuits, though she’d never be so dishonest as to do so.

So today, we’re all posting our villanelles. They aren’t related except by that inclusion of “Thanksgiving” and “friends.” I did a traditional villanelle, with the second line of each tercet rhyming with the other second lines, the first and third lines all rhyming, the third lines alternating back and forth between the two lines that form the closing couplet, and all in iambic pentameter. At least, that was my goal.

I wrote two of them, both while we were on a family visit down in Georgia. I hastily outlined the poems while hiding out briefly in my room. Then, on my daily walk/jogs, I’d bring along my voice recorder and work on a few specific lines. Twice I brought the voice recorder in a ziploc baggie, along with my notes, because it was raining pretty hard. But it was a fun way to work on a poem!

I didn’t end up with any revision time, so this is kind of raw. But here’s villanelle one. The other one is war-related, and I’ll post it next Friday (yeah, you can’t wait, right?).


My friends do not have names. They’re fierce and free:

the owl who swallows dark, the pine’s fine quill.

Thanksgiving drains the darkness out of me.

A pack of gray wolves howl in twilight’s key.

The midnight moon slips past my windowsill.

My friends do not have names. They’re fierce and free.

Red honeysuckle bell forms nectar sea.

Magenta glazes foghat mountains ?til

thanksgiving drains the darkness out of me.

Geese vector overhead in soaring vee.

The rapids tumble-pound on boulder’s spill.

My friends do not have names. They’re fierce and free.

Soft, cotton-covered mouse lives trembling plea.

While wrestling wing to wind, the hawk flies still.

Thanksgiving drains the darkness out of me.

A squirrel tears through cave of willow tree.

Feather grasses dance upon the hill.

My friends do not have names. They’re fierce and free.

Thanksgiving drains the darkness out of me.

–Laura Purdie Salas
And speaking of “Thanksgiving” and “friends,” I’m grateful for all you writing friends, and the Poetry Princesses in particular (even Liz, whose enthusiastic challenges make me excited and then toss me into a what-did-I-agree-to-do kind of pit).

You can read all the villanelles from links at Liz’ blog today. As the emails flew back and forth the past couple of weeks, I barely had time to skim them. So I can’t wait to read all of the villanelles leisurely and savor each poet’s different approach. I wish I had been more involved in the sharing process beforehand, but I’m glad I was part of it at all!

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Wild Rose Reader. Enjoy! And if you’re interested in writing a villanelle, check out Kelly Fineman’s fabulous villanelle post from yesterday (and then make sure to read her funny villanelle posted today, too).

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