Saturday, July 15, 2017

Prompt #285 – A Clerihew or Two



This week’s prompt is purely for enjoyment and deals with a form of poetry that’s rooted in rhymed doggerel formed by two whimsical couplets. The purpose of the clerihew is to create a brief, sometimes satiric, biographical note.

Far from being in the same category as other “form” poems (such as sonnets and sestinas), the clerihew was invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) who was so bored in his high school chemistry class that he jotted down a silly rhyme about Sir Humphrey Davy (the Cornish chemist and inventor who discovered, among other things, sodium). Clerihews developed from this first poem and many have continued to be about famous people (or at least people, characters from literature, pets, and places their authors know). The name of the subject is always the first line. The rest of the poem is supposed to reveal something funny, absurd, or satirical about the subject.  Short and pithy, the best clerihews combine a mix of clownish and urbane elements.

The line length and meter in these poems is usually irregular, the rhymes are often humorously forced, and the rhyme scheme is AABB. Clerihews have only a few simple rules:

1. They are four lines long.
2. The first and second lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.
3. The first line names a person.
4. A clerihew is a micro-biography and the intent is humor.

Clerihews can be great fun when you need to vent about someone; they can make great little silly gifts for friends and family members on special occasions (I once used clerihews as place cards for a dinner party); and they’re just plain fun to “noodle” around with.
  
Guidelines & Tips:

1. Begin by choosing someone to be the subject (and first line) of your clerihew (this first line may be simpley the poeson's name or may be a bit longer). Then, write a second line that end rhymes with the first. Next, write a third line in which you reveal something about the subject (personality, occupation, anything—just keep it light. Finally, write a fourth (and last) line that rhymes with the third line. (Consider sports stars, movie stars, recording stars, politicians, famous poets and other authors, family members, or anyone else you know or know about.)

2. Remember that rhyme is essential and be sure to follow the a, a, b, b rhyme scheme (the first and second lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other).

3. Tell something about the person in your clerihew. Just one biographical detail is enough.

4. Focus on humor but try for a bit of cleverness.

5. Punctuate as you would in normal sentences. Bentley started each line with a capital (once a favored technique in writing poetry), but you don’t have to.

6. Have some fun writing a clerihew or two!


Examples by Edmund Clerihew Bentley:

Sir Humphrey Davy
Detested gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I'm going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing St. Paul's."


Other Examples:

David Beckham
knew how to wreck ’em.
When it came to soccer,
he was a rocker.

My cousin Nancy
is better than fancy—
she’s elegant and cool
and nobody’s fool!

The puppy Zoey
is sweet and showy;
she may be a Morkie,
but she’s looks all Yorkie!

The poet Joe Weil
will make you smile
with stories and more—
he's a raconteur!





Saturday, July 8, 2017

Prompt #284 – Rimas Dissolutas



A while ago, my poet friend and colleague Diane Lockward (whom you've met here on the blog) introduced me to a form of poetry called rimas dissolutas. There are great examples of this form and a prompt on pages 234-237 in Diane's book THE CRAFTY POET II: A Portable Workshop.

Rimas dissolutas is a French troubadouric verse that was popular with 12th and 13th century French poets. There are no absolute rules for meter, line length, or syllables. The form’s only strict regulation is that stanzas must contain the same rhyme pattern from line to line in each stanza—each line in each stanza must rhyme with the corresponding line in the next stanza and all stanzas that follow.

If this sounds a little complicated, don’t worry! The form really allows you a lot of freedom. You decide how many stanzas you want, you determine how many lines each stanza will contain (as long as the number is consistent from stanza to stanza—quatrains, tercets, sixains, etc), and line lengths may be the same or varied.

In keeping with old French forms each line may be isosyllabic and contain the same number of syllables, but this is not required.

To sum up the pattern: the first line in the first stanza must rhyme with the first line in all subsequent stanzas.  Line 2 rhymes with the second line in all stanzas. This is true throughout. So, while there’s no end rhyme, there is very consistent rhyme within the stanzas, making the sound value softer and the rhymes subtler in comparison to  typical end rhymes.

For example, if you were to write a three-stanza poem with five lines in each stanza, the following would be your rimas dissolutas rhyme scheme


1-a (rhymes with the first line in the second and third stanzas)
2-b (rhymes with the second line in the second and third stanzas)
3-c (rhymes with the third line in the second and third stanzas)
4-d (rhymes with the fourth line in the second and third stanzas)
5-e (rhymes with the fifth line in the second and third stanzas)

6-a
7-b
8-c
9-d
10-e

11-a
12-b
13-c
14-d
15-e

Guidelines:

1. After deciding what you’d like to write about, make a list of all the things you want to include.

2. Divide your list into groups of equal length (this will take a little juggling and counting). These groups will become your stanzas. Remember that each stanza must be like every other stanza.

3. If you have five lines in each stanza, you will have five rhyming sounds. Remember that each line in each stanza will end with a word that rhymes with the corresponding line in every other stanza. These may be hard or exact rhymes or off/near rhymes. Some rhymes may even be repeated.

4. Because the form is what I like to think of as structured and unstructured at the same time, experiment with it and see where it takes you. Become your own 21st century troubadour!
  
Tips:

1. Choose a subject with which you’re comfortable. You might want to reflect on Sylvia Plath’s and Barbara Crooker's subject matter from nature and think along those lines for your own rimas dissolutas.

2. Although rhyme is important in this form, a good rhymed poem is never rhyme-driven. In other words, the meaning of your poem should never become subordinate to your rhyme scheme. Keep that in mind while writing.

3. Be sure to observe all the usual caveats of good writing especially:

a.     be conscious of creating striking imagery that shows without telling,
b.     include some figures of speech (similes and metaphors),
c.     create a sense of music through alliteration and assonance,
d.     avoid the passive voice (“ing” endings),
e.     be wary of using too many adjectives,
f.      edit out articles and prepositional phrases whenever you can,
g.     decide what details your poem can live without and remove them,
h.     don’t use up all the air in your poem on the last couple of lines,
i.      point toward something broader than the obvious content of the poem.

 Examples:
 
Of Clocks and Love by Charlotte Mandel

The radio reports conceptions of time—
that two clocks traveling at different speeds
can vary by seconds, minutes and hours.
Physicists surf waves on cosmic oceans.

A poet poor in math, I feel stymied
when scientists operate by creeds
near to religion, aiming telescopic power
to digitize mysteries of creation—

as the universe expands, space/time
swirls in a blender, milky ways bleed
ancient fires, one black hole devours
another. What simple harmonic motion

set off this wild yo-yo we call sublime?
4.3 babies are born every minute. I meet
with joy a great-grandson—and with fears
of drought-shriveled fruits, earthquake implosion.

Still, I cross off calendar days, set a time
the radio sings me awake. Little one, reach
out your arms to those who will adore
the beauty of your body/soul’s creation.
                        
(From The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop, Terrapin Books, Used with the Permission of Charlotte Mandel and Terrapin Books)



Sylvia Plath Reading Her Rimas Dissolutas Poem  "Black Rook in Rainy Weather"



Black Rook in Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath – Text (note the off and near rhymes)


On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To see the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then—
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prompt #283 – In the Good Old Summertime



“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, 
just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life 
was beginning over again with the summer.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
 
Summer is the season of abundance. Also abundant are our memories of summers past. This week, pick one summer and one specific memory (something happy and upbeat), and write about that summer and that special time.

Guidelines:
 
1. Think about what makes summertime so special.

2. Go back in time to a summer that stands out in your memor

3. Re-create the feeling of that time through written language. Show (don’t tell) how you felt.

4. Convey mood and tone with just enough detail (don’t overdo).

5. Appeal to the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

6. Incorporate things that are season-specific. Here are a few examples:

barbecues
baseball and stickball
birdsong
building sandcastles
butterflies
camping out
catching fireflies
cicadas
daylight saving time
diving into waves
eating ice cream
going barefoot
grasshoppers
perspiring
picking wildflowers
sipping iced tea or lemonade
summer camp
sunflowers
swimming pools
tending your garden
the ocean
vacationing
walking in a park
willow trees

7.  Recreate who you were and what happened to make that summer so special. 

Tips: 
 
1. Start with a free write to get things started (you might want to jumpstart the process by looking through a old photo album or two).

2. Write in a comfortable place (whether that means outdoors or in an air conditioned indoor space), that’s conducive to reflection and writing.

3. If you’re writing, for example, about summer’s heat, give examples rather than simply stating that it was hot. If you’re writing about the ocean, use words to conjure up imagery that “speaks” of the ocean’s sounds, smells, etc.

4.  Always be specific, avoid general terms, phrases, and statements, abstractions, and philosophical musings. 

5. Watch out for clichés.

6. Create a sense of sound (music) through alliteration, assonance, anaphora, and rhythm.

7. Remember what Robert Lowell said: “A poem is an event, not the record of an event.” Make your poem a summer event!
 
Examples: 

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott
“I See the Boys of Summer” by Dylan Thomas
“My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer” by Mark Strand
“Summer Night, Riverside” by Sara Teasdale
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/summer-night-riverside    


And just for fun—the old song that "prompted" this prompt's title.








Saturday, June 17, 2017

Prompt # 282 –The Canzone




The canzone is a form of poetry that we don’t hear a lot about. “Canzone” derives from cantio, which means song in Italian. This form of poetry is a medieval Italian prototype of the sonnet. Rooted in the Provençal song or ballad, it was more fully developed and practiced in Italy and was popularized through the writings of Petrarch and Dante. 

Canzones are lyric poems that don’t have the same, conventional rhyme scheme as sonnets. For the most part, they are written in various stanzaic arrangements and usually conclude with an envoy (a short stanza at the end of the poem that brings the poem to closure, often with an address to a real or imagined person or as a comment on the preceding parts of the poem).

In structure, sonnets are typically set in a pattern of fourteen lines; however, canzones may contain from seven to twenty lines. Canzones may also contain anywhere from one to seven stanzas and may include a range of rhyme schemes. (Any rhyme scheme may be used, but for starters, rhymed couplets are suggested.) Additionally, each line in a canzone contains ten or eleven syllables, but this can also vary. Greater flexibility in structure makes canzones easier to write than sonnets.

This week, let’s try writing our own versions of canzones.

Guidelines:

1. Begin by reading Dante Alighieri’s “Canzone 1,” in which he creates a fourteen-line poem with ten syllable lines. The language is archaic, but reading the poem and counting out the syllabic pattern may be helpful in giving you an idea of how you might structure your own poem.

    Ladies that have intelligence in love,
    Of my own lady I will speak with you;
    Not that I hope to count her praises through,
    But telling what I may, to ease my mind.
    And I declare that when I speak thereof
    Love sheds such perfect sweetness over me
    That if my courage failed not, certainly
    To him my listeners must be all resigned.
    Wherefore I will not speak in such large kind
    That mine own speech should foil me, which were base;
    But only will discourse of her high grace
    In these poor words, the best that I can find,
    With you alone, dear dames and damozels:
    'Twere ill to speak thereof with any else.

Dante’s rhyme scheme (abbcdeeccffcgg) is intricate, but because there’s no fixed rhyme pattern for this form of poetry, you can feel free to invent your own or to leave out rhyme entirely.

2. My suggestion is that you plan on a fourteen-line poem that ends with two lines (envoy) designed to bring the poem to closure. Work toward ten syllables in each line. 

3. In keeping with lyricism, try to create a sense of music in your poem and be sure to choose a topic that will lend itself to poetic musicality. Some topics that may work for you include: nature, seasonal subjects, a particular place or geography, love and other relationships, and people you know or admire.

4. For this prompt (a fourteen-line poem with ten syllables in each line) think in terms of the following (and, if you decide to write more than one stanza, follow the pattern for each). Remember that this is a simplification of the form and only a suggestion.

Define your subject and how you will "converse" with your readers. 
(Lines 1 & 2)

Present the central theme, question, or conflict. 
(Lines 3 & 4)

Incorporate your mood, feeling, and tone. 
(Lines 5 & 6)

Provide details on your subject. 
(Lines 7 - 12) 

Close with a couplet that brings the poem (or stanza) to closure. 
(Lines 13 & 14)

Note: If you write more than one stanza, this should leave an opening for further expansion.  

5. If you elect not to rhyme, you might want to think about rhyming just at the end by concluding with an envoy that’s a rhymed couplet (two lines of poetry in which the last words in each line rhyme).

6. Of course, if you find these suggestions in any way inhibiting, let your own creativity and your own poem guide you.

Tips:

1. Because a lot of this form may be left to the poet’s discretion, be sure to remember that it is essentially a form of lyric poetry and work with that in mind (avoid narrative poetry for this).

2.  Create a sense of music in your poem through alliteration, assonance, consonance, anaphora, end rhyme or internal rhyme, meter, modulation, rhythm, and resonance.

3. Try iambic verse—an iamb is a metrical foot consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable. Note: u/ (unstressed/stressed syllables) sounding like ta-DAH.

4. Observe all the usual caveats for writing good poetry (create strong images, avoid the passive voice, watch out for articles and prepositional phrases that your poem can live without, and be careful of too many adjectives and details).

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Prompt #281 – Guilt and Blame

 

Guilt is typically a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some something you've done that's offensive, criminal, or otherwise wrong, and may be real or imagined. Shame is a feeling rooted in conscious avowal of doing wrong (something dishonorable or inappropriate) to someone else. Often, shame and guilt are experienced together. It’s not unusual for a guilty individual to blame himself or herself for a wrong done to another. Sometimes, at the heart of shame is a feeling of inadequacy; and those feelings of inadequacy are sometimes manifested in assigning blame to someone else.

Have you ever felt especially guilty about something you’ve said, done, or didn’t do? Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do, or have you wrongly blamed someone else? We all feel guilty at one point or another, and we all accept or assign blame. This week let’s take a look at guilt and blame and write about an actual time in our lives when we experienced either or both.

Guidelines:

1. Think about a time in your life when you felt ashamed or guilty, or think about a time when you blamed someone or were blamed by someone else (rightly or wrongly). What happened? How did you judge yourself? How did others judge you? How do you judge yourself now?

2. Free write for a while, and see what happens.

3. Let your free write sit for an hour or so, and then go back to it. Read it carefully and select a dominant or important point that you made about guilt and/or blame. Reflect on that point.

4. Begin a poem based on your memories and your free write.

5. Think about remorse and redemption. Did it figure in your guilt/blame experience? In Stephen Dobyns’s poem “Bleeder” (example below), there is no sense of remorse or guilt. How does this strengthen the poem and make it even more disturbing? Think about how you can you ramp up the power of your poem.


Tips:

1. The first line of your poem should be inviting, shockingly interesting or comforting—draw your readers in from the first moment of your poem.

2. Write with an authentic voice—the way something is said is infinitely more important than the intellect of what is said. Be aware of your attitude toward the subject matter and how your attitude becomes part of the subject.

3. Create a sense of intimacy in the poem, a revealing of something you’ve never “told” before. Remember that your readers may not have had the same experience, but most will have experienced similar feelings.

4. Try to write in the active, not the passive, voice. To do that, it can be helpful to remove “ing” endings and to write in the present tense (this will also create greater immediacy).

5. Be on the lookout for prepositional phrases that you might remove (articles & conjunctions too).

6. As you work on your poem, think about adjectives and which ones your poem can live without. (Often the concept is already in the noun, and you don’t need a lot of adjectives to convey your meaning.)

7. Avoid clichés (and, while you’re at it, stay away from abstractions and sentimentality).

8. Show, don’t tell—through striking imagery, a strong emotional center, and an integrated whole of language, form and meaning.

9. Experiment with line and stanza breaks. This will help expose weak spots as well as unnecessary repetitions and wordiness.

10. Work from the personal toward the universal. Think about how your poem will invite readers to relate to your experience (even if the details are different from experiences of their own). Create a resonance for your readers that extends beyond the ending of your poem.


Examples:

1.

“Bleeder” by Stephen Dobyns
           
By now I bet he’s dead which suits me fine,                            
but twenty-five years ago when we were both
fifteen and he was camper and I counselor
in a straight-laced Pennsylvania summer camp
for crippled and retarded kids, I’d watch

him sit all day by himself on a hill. No trees
or sharp stones: he wasn’t safe to be around.
The slightest bruise and all his blood would simply
drain away. It drove us crazy—first
to protect him, then to see it happen. I

would hang around him, picturing a knife
or pointed stick, wondering how small a cut
you’d have to make, then see the expectant face
of another boy watching me, and we each knew
how much the other would like to see him bleed.

He made us want to hurt him so much we hurt
ourselves instead: sliced fingers in craft class,
busted noses in baseball, then joined at last
into mass wrestling matches beneath his hill,
a tangle of crutches and braces, hammering at

each other to keep from harming him. I’d look up
from slamming a kid in the gut and see him watching
with the empty blue eyes of children in sentimental
paintings, and hope to see him frown or grin,
but there was nothing: as if he had already died.

Then, after a week, they sent him home. Too much
responsibility, the director said.
Hell, I bet the kid had skin like leather.
Even so, I’d lie in bed at night and think
of busting into his room with a sharp stick, lash

and break the space around his rose petal flesh,
while campers in bunks around me tossed and dreamt
of poking and bashing the bleeder until he
was left as flat as a punctured water balloon,
which is why the director sent him home. For what

is virtue but the lack of strong temptation:
better to leave us with our lie of being good.
Did he know this? Sitting on his private hill,
watching us smash each other with crutches and canes,
was this his pleasure: to make us cringe beneath

our wish to do him damage? But then who cared?
We were the living children, he the ghost
and what he gave us was a sense of being bad
together. He took us from our private spite
and offered our bullying a common cause:

which is why we missed him, even though we wished
him harm. When he went, we lost our shared meanness
and each of us was left to snarl his way
into a separate future, eager to discover
some new loser to link us in frailty again.

2.





Saturday, May 27, 2017

Prompt #280 – Narrative Poetry


 
On June 3rd, I’m going to moderate a panel for Passaic County Community College Poetry Center's “Celebrating the Poetic Legacy of Whitman, Williams, and Ginsberg: A Literary Festival and Conference.” (Click on the title for more information.) Our topic will be “The Narrative Tradition in Poetry.” We’ll look at the history of narrative poetry and discuss various aspects of the form, along with its relationship to lyric poetry and its future. It's quite an honor to be included in this festival and conference (after submitting a proposal for competitive vetting many months ago). I'm also delighted to have an opportunity to work with a group of distinguishes panelists—poets whom you've met here on the blog: Laura Boss, Diane Lockward, Edwin Romond, Joe Weil, and Michael T. Young. (Click on their names to visit these poets online.)

This prompt will take a look at narrative poetry and offer some suggestions and tips for writing a narrative poem of your own.

If you’ve heard of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” or Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” you know something about narrative poetry. Narrative poems are like our favorite relatives—they like to tell stories.

Historically, poetry has its roots in an oral tradition that predates all other forms of modern communication. Before there were printed books, people told stories through narrative poems. Early narrative verse used rhythm, rhyme, repetition, and vivid language—easily remembered and recited and, arguably, the first examples of performance poetry.

Early narratives were ballads, epics, idylls, and lays. Many of these are long, especially examples such as Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” and Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King.” Narrative poems have also been collected into interrelated groups, as with Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

As a “genre,” narrative poetry has retained importance throughout literary history. Over the past thirty years, the form has made a comeback against lyric poetry, which dominated the last century. Contemporary narrative poems are dramatic and compelling and deal with personal histories, losses, regrets, and recollections. Today’s narrative poems often focus on emotionally intense moments; they are typically powered by imagery and buttressed by nuance in ways that distinguish them from prose memoirs.

Personal narrative poems (the type seen most often in today's poetry) initiate contact between poets and readers; they bring people together through mutual experiences—specific details may be different, but they “speak” to the shared situations of both poet and audience. Importantly, while they often delight and entertain, they can also teach us that we’re not alone.

Personal narratives sometimes fail to move beyond the anecdotal and simply recount an experience that the poet has had in much the same way that prose memoirs do. A great personal narrative, though, has to be larger and more meaningful than an anecdotal poem. In other words, a great personal narrative can’t rest on its anecdotal laurels and must do more than simply tell a story. It needs to approach the universal through the personal, it needs to mean more than the story it tells, and the old rule “show, don’t tell” definitely applies whether a narrative poem is an epic in the style of Homer, a collection of narratives as in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a "mood" narrative as in Poe's "The Raven," or a personal narrative as in Frost's "The Road Not Taken."

Guidelines:

1. Think about a story that you really want to tell: something that happened to you (or to someone you know), a memory that haunts you, a family legend, or a dream. It may also be completely fictional.

2. Make a list (or do a free write) in which you record the important details of the story you want to write. Include the main “characters” and a bit about their relationships to one another.

3. Decide upon the approach you’d like to take in your narrative: chronological, flashback, or reflective. In chronological, you structure your poem around a time-ordered sequence of events; in flashback, you write from a perspective of looking back; and in reflective, you write thoughtfully or “philosophically” about the story you tell.

4. Begin writing in the first person singular, but feel free to change that once you’ve completed a couple of drafts. The narrator of the poem doesn’t have to be you—you have the option of writing in the first, second, or third person. Consider a variety of perspectives before deciding.

5. Start with a “bang” by beginning with a startling detail (or part of your story). A good narrative poem doesn’t have to begin at the beginning of the story. Move the story forward (and look back) from whatever your “point of entry” may be.

6. Be aware that merely telling your story and arranging it in lines and stanzas won’t make it a poem. Think about the qualities of writing that make good poems good and include some of them in this poem.

Tips:

1. Remember that narrative poems often fail because the poets have included too much detail.  Leave out details that might mean something to you but aren’t essential to the narrative you’ve chosen to tell.

2. Watch out for over-use of adjectives.

3. Don’t waste words introducing characters or describing scenes—jump in with both feet.

4. Don’t ramble. Be concise and get to the point. Yes, there should be a point to your narrative—something that’s something bigger than the experience, something with which readers will be able to relate. Along that line, be sure to leave room in your poem for the reader to enter and “belong.”

5. Don’t simply relate your narrative or tell your readers what they should feel. Your job is to show and not to tell. Avoid “emotion words” such as “anger”—bear in mind that when someone is angry he or she is more likely to slam a door than to say, “Hey, I’m angry.” You can show anger or any other emotion without ever using the words. Let actions and sensory images lead your readers to understand the emotions in the poem. As the writer of a personal narrative poem, it’s your job to include revealing details, not to interpret or explain them for your readers. You may want to avoid the passive voice, “to be” verbs, and “ing” endings as these can inhibit the process of showing rather than telling.

6. Set a tone for your narrative poem Tone in poetry is an overall feeling that inhabits every corner of your poem. Think about your story and the feeling with which you want your readers to leave the poem.

7. Think about the perspective from which you want to tell your story. Do you want to tell the story as if it were happening in the present (using the present tense)? Do you want to write from a perspective of looking back (past tense)? This is, of course, up to you and you will need to think about how use of the past or of the present tense will impact your poem.

8. Just as a short story includes rising action, a climax, and denouement or resolution, so should a personal narrative poem. Use of stanzas can be helpful in emphasizing the sequence of your poem. Be acutely aware that you’re writing a poem and not prose. Narrative poetry often springs from a prose impulse and becomes mired in prose-like details. Remember that you’re writing a poem and should be focused on imagery, figurative language, and the sound quality (alliteration, assonance, dissonance) of your work. Don’t become so engrossed in the story that you forget about the elements of good poetry!

 Examples:
 

"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe





 "Beowulf" by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet