Happy October, poetry friends. I love autumn, and I’m actually enjoying, kind of, the ongoing process of unpacking and settling in. And my writing has gotten back on track, too. I wrote all summer, but it was a frantic, meet-the-deadline-while-doing-a-million-other-things kind of writing. I’m still too busy, but it’s my normal kind of too busy.
This month was Kelly Fineman’s choice of art for our ekphrastic poem, and she chose this arlequin figure by Rene de Saint-Marceaux. One of her favorite aspects of it was the eyes carved behind the mask, even though you can only see them if you’re up in his face. I decided to try a French form, the tautogram, invented in the 1960s by the Oulipio movement, which I don’t know anything about. But it’s a whole poem with all the words starting with the same letter. I cheated on the title:>)
For me, this figure looked cruel and heartless, so I made him sort of a psychopath. Initially I had him deciding between mischief and murder, but that felt a little too extreme. I like malice and mischief better, as it made me think about the cruel jokes and pranks we often think are ok because we’re “just kidding.”
This poem also works for me today as Hurricane Matthew pounds Florida, where my family is. My dad’s in Titusville, alone and without power. For now, he has landline and water. I’m seeing Matthew as musing how devastating to be to Florida–I always manage to make poems connect to me personally! Here’s my poem: Make sure to check out what my Poetry Sisters came up with:
We’re missing Andi this month, but she’ll be back! Feel better, Andi!
And here are the previous Poetry Sisters collaborations:
|Sep 2016||Clogyrnach poems (“Monarch”)|
|Aug 2016||Ekphrastic poems|
|Jul 2016||Poems inspired by a Kay Ryan poem (“House for Sale”)|
|Jun 2016||Harpy poems|
|Apr 2016||“Channel-Hopping Through Grasshopper Reality TV”|
|Feb 2016||Poem Inspired by a Picasso Sculpture (ugh)|
|Jan 2016||Crown sonnet (on the periodic table)|
|Nov 2015||Ekphrastic poems|
|Sep 2015||Found poems|
|Aug 2015||Classified haiku|
|Jul 2015||Inspired by e.e. cummings’ poems|
|Mar 2015||Sestinas (Lord have mercy)|
|Feb 2015||Villanelles on hidden things|
|Jan 2015||Triolets on beginnings (And I posted an extra one here.)|
|Pre-2015||Villanelles, a crown sonnet, rondeau redoubles, and pantoums|
And for more Poetry Friday fun, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup, with Violet Nesdolyl! Save Save Save Save Save Save Save
Matt Forrest Esenwine says
Intriguing, Laura – both your poem, and the form itself! I first learned about Oulipio in a book that the Poetry Princess herself, Joy Acey, gave me a few years ago, following a Highlights workshop…there are some really fascinating forms they created!
Cool! I don’t know how I feel about the form–it’s very…stagey? But it’s fun to play with.
Love it! I agree he sees a bit creepy, but glad you chose malice over murder.
Yeah, it does seem the better choice for this poem. Thanks, Sally!
Laura, what an intriguing form of poetry. I think you should show this type at the conference as a different type of an #imagepoem. I would think people will have fun flowing their words with the same initial letter. I found an app that is similar to Word Swag-Typorama. It’s fun and is free.
Thanks, Carol. It’s a weird form, but fun as an experiment. Makes you think about vocabulary and synonyms, that’s for sure! I’ll check out Typorama–thanks! I’ve tried a couple others–Phonto and something else, but nothing has worked anywhere near as well as Wordswag. Great to have a free option to recommend, though.
make my mind
I see what you did there, Margaret. Magnificent!
Sara Lewis Holmes says
You definitely picked up on the sinister aspect of this statue, and I love how you tried a new form. Most of all, though, I love how you slyly worked in the word “Muse” as well—because, well—he WAS our muse for this challenge, and sometimes, the process of inspiration can leave one a little creeped out as to where, exactly, our ideas come from….
Ha–totally did not notice that!
Brenda Davis Harsham says
I have never heard of that from, but you used it masterfully, melding it with the photo, too.
Thanks, Brenda–it was a fun experiment.
I love that you’ve tackled this form. I have tried it and just can’t seem to pull it off. You did beautifully. And I love mischief and malice.
Thanks, Tricia–it’s like Scattergories but in poem form! Glad I started with “M.” Not sure what I’d have done with a different letter. Heyyyyy, wouldn’t it be fun to take the same pic and all write a tautogram starting with a different assigned letter?
Ooh … that would be fun!
I hope your dad continues to be okay, Laura. It’s a form new to me, that tautogram, and you’ve brought out the alarming stance of the stature. I like the scary possibility of “maybes mingle”.
Thanks, Linda. His power is out, but he’s OK for now!
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman says
Cool form, and I love your take, even though I didn’t find the character threatening. Maybe because I was next to it in person, and see it a little differently through eyes of memory?
Yep, probably. He’s just creepy to me:>)
Ooh, Laura. Hold onto this form; next year (of course I’m already positive we’re all going to do this AGAIN) we’ll have to try it. I really love what you do to blend form and image into its own piece of art. And, I agree – malice v. mischief is a much better pair of minor things to balance than the first version! He IS smirking, he IS up to no good. Just how bad is it going to get? Only the masked man knows…
Exactly–I wanted “murder” in there, really. But it was off-balance. This makes the poem better. It’s a weird form, so inauthentic in many ways, but fun!
Jane the Raincity Librarian says
One of the many reasons I’m so glad I joined the online poetry community is that I am always learning and exploring new poetry forms and ideas – I’ll admit I had to look up ekphrastic, tautogram and Oulipio…! 😉
I’m always learning new words/forms–such fun!
Violet Nesdoly says
Oooh, your poem gives me shivers. I do like the form you’ve chosen and the graphic way you presented it. I’d say nicely played.
Hehe–thanks, Mary Lee!
Well done, Laura! I agree with your impression of the statue as creepy, and love how you used the form to bring him to life.
Thanks for introducing me to the tautogram–A new-to-me form to play around with! I also found this figure creepy and enjoyed your reflection about malice vs. murder. Thanks for sharing!