Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poetry Month Posting: In Praise of the Villanelle, the Terzanelle, and of Alexis

Once there was a Neil Gaiman compilation with a poem inside- a sestina, or a terza rima or some kind of structured thing which, in its strict and sturdy form, rocked my world. Was it the Vampire Sestina? Until that day, I'd been an adherent to free form and streams-of-consciousness, but Gaiman's repitition sent little cogs spinning in my brain. Whatever the piece, it sent me a-googlin'. I found an example with carefully numbered lines that illustrated the terzanelle, a mash-up of a terza rima and villanelle. I fell in love with it:
Terzanelle in Thunderweather
Lewis Turco

This is the moment when shadows gather
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.
This is the center of thunderweather.

The birds are quiet among these white leaves
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.

these are not our voices speaking guardedly
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily

Into our lungs, across our lips, tightening
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening
that illuminate moments.

In the stark shades we inhabit, there are no words
for our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
Of things we cannot say, cannot ignore,

This is the moment when shadows gather
shades we inhabit, there are no words for
this is the center of thunderweather.
Lexie showed me a villanelle today, after explaining more formal poem stuffs to me. It is amazing. When I create a wall of painted quotations on my studio wall, pieces of this will be featured:
One Art
Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
I've been sort of meaning to write a formal thing since I fell in love with these structures, but haven't applied myself to the task yet. I did begin an Ode, and here I vow to finish it during April. YES.

shades we inhabit, there are no words for


*sigh*

26 comments:

  1. I love the forms that are based more around repetition than meter (so, same with you, villanelle, sestina, etc. versus sonnets). Theres a weird sort of freedom in having some of the lines written as soon as you make a decision on what those few crucial lines are. :D I love seeing you branch out in terms of art styles, so I'm super excited for your next piece, as always. :D
    -A

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  2. :D

    (Too bone-tired this morning to say much else.)

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