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Old 02-19-2013, 07:07 PM   #1
Debbie V
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Playing With Form

My frustration is leading to questions.

How much can you play with form and still use the label of that form?

For example: In English, we take the essence of Haiku but do not always follow the prescribed 5,7,5 pattern because it doesn't fit the language as well. We still call it Haiku. If this change were made in a Japanese poem, I wonder what it would be labelled.

What if we add a beat to a line, or a line to a sonnet? Would it still be a rose?
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:43 PM   #2
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Is a hand still a hand if it has six fingers? How long would you wait at a Stop sign at a desolate intersection with no traffic for miles?

Not meant to be snarky! How about this?
Quote:

If pattern in a poem is "The artistic arrangement and use of the material (aural and visual) aspects of words into particular repetitive and/or serial forms as a means to structure a poem," then variation, pattern's partner in crime, is

The artistic breaking of a pattern within a poem to create degrees of emphasis.

Once a pattern has been established, it may be varied. The effect is always the same: it produces emphasis. The degree of emphasis is directly related to the degree of variation. An extreme variation from the pattern will produce extreme emphasis, minor variation will produce minor emphasis, and any degree within the extremes is there to be played with. If a given word or phrase is of import in the poem, Then variation can be used to set it apart. Whether a phrase should get such emphasis is an important poetic question, and one that we should never tire of asking.

So pattern and variation are two primary tools in Apollo's toolbox. In a poem the material aspects of the words(both aural and visual) are being controlled. Taking a largely chaotic, Dionysian line or sentence, we begin to give it shape, and that shape is largely defined by the patterns and variations that we set into those words.
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/568/
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:47 PM   #3
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What a great questioin. My knowledge is limited Debbie, but I'll share a bit from what I 'think' I know. You mention the sonnet. There are other characteristics of a sonnet, such as the 'turn' or 'volta' that are as vital to its being considered a sonnet as its number of lines, its line length, etc. Sonnets can vary greatly and have a lot of different 'types', and even then you can experiment to some degree with the form. But, from what I understand, it must have that internal pose/resolve -- question/answer -- quality to be a true sonnet. It has to argue with itself a bit.

Other forms require refrains... certain lines being repeated at strategic points, but to varied meanings by way of context, punctuation, etc... think pantoum.

Or you could make one up to fit your poem. There was a contest that Kie held not long ago to explore this idea, and there was some good discussion along those lines... you may want to go pull up that thread if you've not yet looked at it. There are also some resources in the pages of the main poetry thread you can paruse.

Don't know if I've been much help, as I said, my knowledge is limited. But you've asked a great question and we are fortunate that our sitting PL is amply able to supply all your answers.

If you ask it... he will come.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:49 PM   #4
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Mag... that is so good. Great stuff.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:24 AM   #5
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When I was reading Shadow Poetry, when I read the section about Haiku, apparently the rule for both is it must follow the form of:

Setting
Subject
Action

Now the kicker though is sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of having an action that needs to be separated by two lines.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:08 PM   #6
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Mag,
That is cool stuff. I just love those folks at Purdue.

I would not wait at the stop sign long, but I would still at least do a rolling stop, but then I do that here in the suburbs too, sometimes even when there is a little traffic. How far and when can/do/should we stretch the rules? But the real question I'm asking is, at what point does the stop sign become something else - a yield sign - or for all intents and purposes cease to exist. See what I wrote to Sarah below.

Brandt,
I haven't looked at the contest thread for a while, so will do. I don't tend to write to set forms (as you may have noticed from the work I've posted). I either write free verse (which holds the line between form and not- another topic for debate) or create my own form. This is why writing to a standard poetic form is causing me to ask about the nature of standards.

Sarah,
I wonder if the variation of a Haiku with an action on two lines has its own name. There must be a mechanism for creating new poetic forms, and you are unlikely to be the only person with this issue. If you are first and can popularize it, perhaps you'll get to name it.

It strikes me that my education in poetry spoke more about the forms in concrete line and syllable terms and not as much about the underlying structures expressed within the language, ie I knew the refrains were needed, but not necessarily that the meaning would change with consecutive uses. I must allow for the slim possibility that my memory is more at fault than the limited instruction I've had.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:17 PM   #7
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Yes actually, I think its something like 5 - 7 - 5 - 7 - 7, and is referred to as Tanka. Tanka unlike Haiku is not restricted to nature.

I'm sort of experimenting with form myself, with sort of a connected Senryu as part of a larger work.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:46 PM   #8
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Modern haiku is verry permissive, in my opinion. I prefer to try my hand on classic haiku because the joy when writing such a short piece with so many rules to be followed is so much higher than writing something that loosely defined as modern haiku.

I agree, there is poetry in less than 3 lines, less than 17 syllables, in less than 2 images, nobody can deny that. But I think someone must step in and give it another name because haiku refrains are the ones that make a short poem a haiku.

I think anyone can reinvent a poetic form, just like Basho did using hokku as a stand alone and bringing it to fame. He says to follow in the footsteps of the ancient but have your own perspective.

I prefer the classic haiku.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:44 PM   #9
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But can a single book have multiple haiku with multiple poems that follow in sequential order?

I've sort of fallen into a trap, that I might start out with one senryu, but I often have to follow with another to continue the story. And then when multiple Senryu pop up, I find myself gradually losing the form being to immersed in the story.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustSarah View Post
But can a single book have multiple haiku with multiple poems that follow in sequential order?

I've sort of fallen into a trap, that I might start out with one senryu, but I often have to follow with another to continue the story. And then when multiple Senryu pop up, I find myself gradually losing the form being to immersed in the story.
This is one of the difficulties inherent in poetic stories. It's hard to keep the form and the story both flowing nicely. Trying to make one work often interferes with the other. It's one of the challenges of the piece I'm working on now. It's a poem for children. Meter and rhyme need to be exact, the language must be natural, and the story has to make sense.

This is why I am completely blown away by novels in verse. Imagine doing something novel length with these challenges.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:03 PM   #11
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Often times I try to work my way up by writing shorter stories. Around 15 to 20 lines to experiment with form.
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Often times I try to work my way up by writing shorter stories. Around 15 to 20 lines to experiment with form.
Way cool. Perhaps one day you will have a whole book that is a single story made of haiku. It can be done. Keep at it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:43 AM   #13
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When playing with Haiku and Senryu, I've always wondered, can you introduce a scene with a haiku, and then close it off with a Senryu?

I know Senryu is generally what you would do you human psychology and person specific things.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:04 AM   #14
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How much can you play with form and still use the label of that form?
Vastly. There is very little restriction.

See here.

Verse forms are, for the greater part, guidelines or general templates, not stone tablets of absolutes.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:19 AM   #15
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I agree - great question and great topic for discussion. Even the sonnet form was invented by someone -- and varied by others to better suit their purposes.

IIRC, according to Fry, Petrarch invented the sonnet, and the rhyme scheme worked well for the Italian language. The Spenserian and Shakespearian forms came about because the Petrarchan rhyme scheme was more difficult to fulfil in English, and the English poets tended to approach the poetic line of thought differently, so the volta was used in a different way.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:26 AM   #16
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IIRC, according to Fry, Petrarch invented the sonnet, and the rhyme scheme worked well for the Italian language.
A quatorzain is 14 verse poem. While most sonnets are quatorzains, not all quatorzains are sonnets. What destinguishes the sonnet is a progressive narrative and stylistic implementation of the dialectical turn (aka Volta); it's one of the foundations of its initial purpose.

The sonnet is one of the oldest and most recognisable verse forms still flourishing in the modern world. Born out of song and expressing a variety of themes and narratives, it has evolved into one of the most flexible and thematically approachable templates for composing poetry, and has spawned several genres of sub-variants and stylisations beyond the standard verse form of its origin.

Today, ‘sonnet’ has become an umbrella term for the many child-forms that have matured over the centuries through formalisation and mould-breaking experimentation. The form itself was the product of folk song and troubadouric verse presented to the aristocracy by 13th century Poet (and notary to the Court of Holy Emperor Fredrick II), Giacomo Da Lentini, aka Jacopo Da Lentini. Despite the customary feudal and chivalrous thematic expected from poetry of his time, a recurring undertone of Da Lentini’s poetry was a persistent sense of discord between poet and subject. Each of his works resulted in a conflict or debate. It is idealised by scholars that Da Lentini’s academic credentials and consequential familiarity with the elegiac couplet of Hellenistic prevalence, and the rising interest for new ideas leading into the renaissance period collided to form the basis of what is known formally as the Volta (or turn). Lentini didn't write many quartorzains, and his sonnets range from 13 to 36 verses.

14th century poet, Francesco Petrarca (Anglicized, Petrarch) is referred to as the grandfather of modern poetry, and also the father of humanism – formerly a priest, and a scholar, Petrarch’s views on life and humanity heavily influenced his poetry. The non-secular humanist nature of his themes (the trend of poetry more diverse than 100 years earlier) delved into both sensibility and emotion. This contrast was further embellished by progressive narrative in 14 verses of 11 syllables that led into the juxtaposition of either concept through the Volta as re-defined by Petrarch.

Petrarch’s Volta set formalisation of the sonnet in motion with his new sonnet adopting a more deliberate architecture than its predecessor: 8 verses (an octave/octet rhymed abbaabba) and 6 six verses (a sestet rhymed either cdecde; cdcdcd; cddece). The Volta occurred explicitly to begin the 9th verse. Although commonly presented as a single stanza the ‘eight and six’ had deeper purpose than a shifted rhyme scheme. The octet presents a supposition, a point of concern/thought in its first verse, and elucidates in the following 3 progressively to formulate an argument by the 8th. The sestet initiates a counter-thought at the 9th verse, signalling the Volta with the new rhyme, and progresses to a resolve by the 14th. Petrarch avoided closing with a couplet as doing so would be too deliberate, and the philosophical aspect would be rendered mechanical.

Not only did Petrarch solidify the dialectical turn, but his method for structuring lines outside of ‘majestic’ custom (end-stopped; complete thought per verse) opened them to enjambment, and allowed for a less contrived tone.

The truth-seeking, internal musing of Petrarch’s poetry became a catalyst for many lyrical poets that followed in the renaissance and throughout the 14th and 16th centuries. However, the relative rhyme-anaemia of the English language and awkward 11 syllable line measure made writing the Petrarchan an arduous task. Poets responded by adapting and reworking the metre and rhyme to suit their language. Shakespeare's variant is the most common re-imagining of the sonnet still. These fledgling sonnets grew in popularity, steamrolling through literature – the Petrarchan left behind until resurrected by Milton’s revision of it in the mid 17th century.

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room by William Wordsworth

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, into which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

John Milton changed how prosodists and enthusiasts viewed the sonnet a century before Wordsworth wrote ‘Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room’, in particular the implementation of the Volta. The revived form (Miltonic Petrarchan) allowed for the Volta to be enjambed from before or after the 9th verse; pre-emptive in an earlier verse; for the 9th verse to set up the Volta for a later point; delay it until the end; the entire sestet to become the Volta (= peripeteia) or even ignore it altogether – the new eight and six only deemed it necessary to hold separate thoughts respectively, not necessarily in contrast, resolve, or reaction, but simply capturing a moment of thought/reflection. This liberation was championed by Wordsworth more than any other poet of his day – as can be seen in ‘Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room’ by the Volta enjambed over into verse 10. Many used the ideal of that respective split to open up and re-direct their narrative to use the sonnet in a manner that avoided the expected internal conflict:

Nuptial Sleep by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

At length their long kiss severed, with sweet smart:
And as the last slow sudden drops are shed
From sparkling eaves when all the storm has fled,
So singly flagged the pulses of each heart.
Their bosoms sundered, with the opening start
Of married flowers to either side outspread
From the knit stem; yet still their mouths, burnt red,
Fawned on each other where they lay apart.

Sleep sank them lower than the tide of dreams,
And their dreams watched them sink, and slid away.
Slowly their souls swam up again, through gleams
Of watered light and dull drowned waifs of day;
Till from some wonder of new woods and streams
He woke, and wondered more: for there she lay.

The Miltonic liberties were fed back into the Sonnet in other languages also, and even the purists found themselves playing and reworking the verse form to suit theme and language wherever required. Some poets, such as Shelly, even fused elements from other verse forms (Terza Rima for example) into the 14 line structure.

The Miltonic Petrarchan is still a common and widely used variant of the sonnet and has been used by many highly regarded poets of the 20th century such as Robert Frost. Frost regarded himself a 'furiously experimental' formalist, a statement we see echoed within all of his verse (sonnet or otherwise), but nowhere moreso than in his adaptations of quatorzain and sonnet. For a long time, Frost's 14 verse poetry has been viewed by prosodists as quatorzains, but the recent universal reclassification recognising his work as sonnets makes him one of the most prolific sonneteers of the last 100 years:

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry

Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Then there are those that completely re-invented the sonnet (think Gerard Manly Hopkins).

What made it hard for Frost was that he frequently has no identifiable turn. Despite this, though, his poetry often ends in counter-point to where it starts. He achieves this through convex and paradoxical language based on context and meaning.

I have no doubt the same is-a-sonnet-not-a-sonnet arguement has been applied to many of the greats for similar reasons.

In any case, if you start off writing a sonnet that turns out a quatorzain (see what I did there? ), or anything else, who really cares? It's your poem, and you'll be in good company.
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ETA: there are sonnets of 6 lines, 8 lines, 10, 12 lines, 17 lines and even 27 lines. 14 is an ideal and popular number, but by no means an absolute.

As for meter:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...d.php?t=236884
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