Saturday, January 31, 2009

Totally Optional Prompt: Repetition

TOPers: this week, let's explore the power of repetition.

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."

--Lewis Caroll, The Hunting of the Snark

Well, that might or might not be the case! But usually when we repeat something it's because we think it's important and we want our audience to pay attention. This is true in poetry as well as in ordinary conversation.

Look at the number of traditional forms that incorporate repetition: the sestina family, the villanelle and terzanelle, the triolet, the kyrielle, the rondeau and related forms. The list goes on and on.

Free verse also makes use of repetition: look at the phrases "Not to be spattered by his blood" and "this, while I kill him" in Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Not to Be Spattered by His Blood" or the use of "close" (enclose, unclose), "open", "rose", in e. e. cummings' "somewhere I have never travelled,gladly beyond".

What sort of effects can we get with repetition? You may want to explore this through one of the forms listed above. Or in free verse. Or in any kind of poetry at all. Or do something else entirely: remember, it's
Totally Optional

Remember to leave your permalink on the Wednesday evening post, which your February host Linda will put up!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Request for Poems: Intersections

What worlds did we get to touch each other, TOPers?

I'll post the last prompt for January this weekend: Linda will take over for February.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Totally Optional Prompt: Intersections

Late again, sorry! It was a distracting weekend at my house :(

This week, I'd like us to think about the contact points between things you wouldn't normally think had a whole lot to do with each other. For example, what do a car mechanic and a ballet dancer have in common? How might a sand dollar and a bluebird interact? Where would you find stone and fine silk together?

Reminder: Leave your permalinks on the Wednesday night post. If you leave them here, people may not see them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Request for Poems: Ceremonies

TOPers, what are our thoughts on ceremonies?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Totally Optional Prompt: Ceremonies

TOPers, here in the US we're about to inaugurate a new presidential administration. Some of us (myself, for instance) are planning to watch the ceremony. It'll actually be the first one I've ever watched.

How important are public ceremonies? Do President-elect Obama's choices for his inauguration really imply anything significant about the kind of President he'll be? Is it all just empty spectacle, circuses without the bread? Is Elizabeth Alexander the kind of poet who will flourish under the new administration, or just a poet he happens to like?

Write about public ceremonies: I don't mean the kind of private rituals we all have. Write about one you've been to, one you'd like to go to, or write about what public ceremonies mean to you. Or write about anything at all. After all, it's
Totally Optional

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Request for Poems: The Other Side

First I apologize: there are some publishing issues going on and I'm not sure if the problem's with Blogger or with my browser. I'm going to republish this tomorrow from a different machine and see if it works any better.

I had to change the template, because the old one was printing the nice brown brown border pattern all the way across the page, which made the text unreadable. In changing to this template, which had colors that kind of matched the TOP logo, I found that all the sidebar stuff disappeared (although it looks like it's still there when I view the Layout tab). I also can't seem to get Mr. Linky to show up (he may pop up later; sometimes it takes a while).

I may have to reload the template from an old version I have saved. In the meanwhile, bear with me...

What did we learn in exploring villainy this week? Or did we go in some other direction altogether?

Update: I fixed the Linky problem, but I can't get the border to go back to how it was, so I've changed the text and link colors so they'll show up. I can't get the sidebar stuff to show up with any other template, so this is how it's going to look for now. I'll keep working on it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Totally Optional Prompt: The Other Side

TOPers, this week I'd like you to write a poem from the point of view of a bad person. It could be someone from history, legend, or fiction; it could be someone who's alive and making headlines. Regardless, someone whose acts you consider criminal or reprehensible.

Really try to get inside this person's head. Do you relish the suffering you cause? Do you feel it's justified by some greater goal? Or are you completely indifferent to it? Did you start off with good intentions which went astray through a series of apparently reasonable decisions? Were you misled by your companions? Or is everything we think we know about you a lie promulgated by your enemies? Are you simply misunderstood? Convince us! This is your chance to present your side of the story.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Request for Poems: Sestina/Quartina/Tritina

TOPers, did you dance with end words this week? Or did something else tickle your poetic fancy? Leave the good word with Mr. Linky (and/or in the comments).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Totally Optional Prompt: Sestina, Quartina, Tritina

TOPers: sorry for the late prompt. I didn't have Internet connectivity at home yesterday.

For this week's
Totally Optional
prompt, we're exploring forms in which words are repeated at the ends of lines. Probably the best-known form of this kind is the sestina. Sestinas are a lot of work, though, so feel free to explore shorter options such as the quartina and tritina.

The trick to all of these forms-- as with all forms that involve repetition-- is to not just repeat the words, but to use them in a different way. If one of your words is a verb, you can use it in different tenses. Even better, many words can be used as nouns and as verbs, as verbs and as adverbs, and so forth. The more variety you can introduce in your use of words, the less repetitious the poem will seem.

For example, look at the different uses of rose/rise in the following quartina: Leaves of Glass. Check out the varying appearances of "may be", "spectacular" and "performed" in Ticker.

Come back Wednesday evening or Thursday morning and leave us a link!