Plog 12th January 2012

January 12th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized

On Christmas Eve a thud on the doormat told me a parcel had arrived. It was a poetry anthology containing some of my work, which pleased me.

On Christmas Day, I read through the other poets’ writing in Green Spaces and was captivated by the pantoum. Another poet has demonstrated to me this Malayan form, and I took time to examine its necessary structure.

A pantoum can be any multiple of four lines and uses the abab rhyming pattern. The unusual thing about the form is that the second quatrain takes the second and fourth lines of the first quatrain as its first and third line.

When I first heard that I was reeling with regulation and wanting to take a step back. In a sense that is what a pantoum allows you to do, because it moves forward four lines and back two. This makes for easy listening, because you know you will have the chance to hear again what you may have missed out in the first rendering.

Let me give you an example:

Pantoumery!

What I would like to do in this pantoum
before I think of substance to impart
is teach myself, if no-one else, the form
that one day I’ll develop into art.

Before I think of substance to impart
to either of these two parallel worlds
that one day I’ll develop into art
I’ll watch their circularity unfurl.

To either of these two parallel worlds
the substance not the form is essential
I’ll watch their circularity unfurl
First dancers release immense potential.

The substance not the form is essential
To dance or not to dance we’re always free
First dancers release immense potential
that resonates. To power it’s the key.

To dance or not to dance we’re always free.
I’ll teach myself if no-one else the form
that resonates. To power it’s the key
to what I’d like to do with this pantoum.

That was my Christmas Day attempt. I enjoyed exploring the parallel lines of previous poetry encapsulating a line of new words. This went on and on until the final verse, where the poem ends with the very first line, in circular motion.

I could almost see planetary sweeps across the fertile sky of newfound expression.

Donald Justice’s ‘Pantoum of the Great Depression’ is world famous, and I like Nellie Wong’s ‘Grandmothers’s Song’.  It contains the sort of repetition grandchildren need, to learn the traditions of China.

Why don’t you have a go, and post your work on the Universe page of this website. It would be great to start a discussion of Pantoumery!

2012 poetry calendars are now on sale for $9.97 at http://www.writingtank.com/sales/2011-calendar/ They last until January 2013 and I find mine indispensable.  It is well worth the investment.


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