MAMA IN BRA AND SHORTS — A SECOND LOOK
A couple of days ago you met my mother, rough edges and all. The poem didn’t use a lot of the obvious poetic conventions we usually associate with poetry. By all appearances, it was just a fairly short, simple, humorous snapshot told in unpolished language.
Surprisingly, there is running through the poem something that holds it together and makes it work. There is a very consciously contrived STRUCTURE in the poem which almost no one would notice unless they were told in advance to watch for it. First, let’s read the poem again ALOUD, trying to hear the rhythm and some of the internal rhymes. Don’t look ahead to the paragraphs below until you’ve read “Mama In Bra and Shorts…” again. Then come back, and we’ll talk.
Welcome back. What did you notice? Anything? Maybe not. What I hope you picked up on is not at all obvious. Ok. I’ve kept you waiting long enough.
Go back to the poem again and count the number of SYLLABLES in the first line. Write the number on a piece of paper, then do the same for every line.
Now you see it!
Almost exactly TEN SYLLABLES in every line. And that wasn’t just coincidence. (I CHOSE ten syllables for this poem, but it could have been a different number, say…seven or eight or any number you choose.) I decided before I ever wrote the first word of the poem that I wanted to write a SYLLABIC POEM. I wanted to be constrained by a set FORM, but I didn’t want it to take over the poem. I didn’t want the structure, or form, to be obvious. I hope I succeeded at least in that regard.
I want to explain in a little more detail — in a later blog — some of the advantages, limitations, “watch-out’s,” and hints you may find very interesting about SYLLABIC POEMS. But you can start having fun right now.
Just for giggles, why not try a syllabic poem now. A line length shorter than 10 syllables may be easier to start with. Up to you! Make the poem fairly short — maybe just 10-12 lines — in case it’s a struggle. We want your poem to be fun, not excruciatingly difficult. The poem doesn’t have to rhyme, and it doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize quality. It’s just an exercise. But it’s surprising how easy it is to write, thinking syllables, instead of BEATS. So give it a shot.
If you’d like to share your “masterpiece” with the readers and me, why not leave a comment here, letting us know where your syllabic poem is posted.
GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!!