Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Writing a Villanelle

When crafting a villanelle, I start with the 1st and 3rd lines. Because they are repeated throughout the poem, they are basically the building blocks of the villanelle. The 1st and 3rd lines rhyme. Keep in mind that the villanelle also ends with these lines. Perhaps, the best villanelles play with the meaning of these lines. The close of the poem with these two lines should drive home the message of the poem or offer a slightly different perspective.

Meter is not considered inherently important for this form. The focus of the villanelle is the repetition. The repetion is a tool of emphasis.

Here is another example of the villanelle. Notice how the 1st and 3rd lines are repeated and rhymed with other lines. The second line of each stanza rhymes.


Halo-gleam illusion
blinds doubt and true judgment.
You’ve built a delusion.

You sketch bright confusion-
attempts to represent
halo-gleam illusion.

Wiley ways in fusion-
actualization bent.
You’ve built a delusion.

Evil heart allusion
to your early torment.
Halo-gleam illusion

Conceit in diffusion-
to mankind you descent.
You’ve built a delusion.

Self-deceit conclusion
falls prey to lies content.
Halo-gleam illusion-
you’ve built a delusion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Villanelle

The villanelle is my favorite form of poetry to write. It's a form that contains two separate rhymes and includes line repetition. Here's a well-known example. Note the repetition of lines 1 and 3 and rhyme scheme.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Though Wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas


The clerihew is a whimsical form of poetry. It is biographical, with the first line consisting of the name of the person who the poem is about. The following 3 lines are of varied lengths. The first two lines rhyme, as do the second two lines.

Vincent van Gogh
Cut off his ear, as you know
His vibrant colors and thick strokes
are lesser known to the folks.

They are fun and easy. Try to write one!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Explore Poetry


When you think of form poetry, you might feel intimidated. Many people hesitate to explore form poetry. Don't be afraid. There are no ruler-wielding nuns here. No one is going to criticize or mock your attempts.

Poetry is playing with language. It should be enjoyable. It should be empowering. Form poetry is no different.

Form poetry is merely a collection of tools. We'll explore various forms of poetry here. I encourage you to try the forms. Learning new forms expands your arsenol of tools for self-expression.