Plog 26th December 2011

December 26th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

On Christmas Eve I received a parcel from the Poetry Space Competition 2011.  It was the new ‘Green Spaces’ anthology with two of my recent poems included!  If any of you would like to order a copy, you can do so from the Bookshop at http://www.poetryspace.co.uk So I have had a warm Christmas reading a small selection of environmental poetry and learning new methods.

I have been reading Carl Ransom Rogers’ famous work: ‘On Becoming a Person’, and noticed one of his implicit principles: that while his highest authority comes from his own subjective experience, he enjoys discovering order within it.  This is directly relevant to the essay question I have spent the last fortnight wrestling with:  ‘ “Shakespeare’s plays celebrate disorderliness at least as much as they endorse authority”.  Discuss with reference to at least 2 plays.’

I shall not entertain you with all the contortions this essay question led me through. I was totally drenched in Shakespeare; but let’s look at the form of poetry, ‘Green Spaces’ presented to me in a fresh light: the pantoum.

Gillian Penrose had written ‘On the Avalon Marshes’, a poem with five quatrains, the pattern of which I have been playing with this morning:

 

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.

 

So my next venture will be to apply this pattern to Carl Rogers’ characteristics of a helping relationship.

When I was working on the poem above, I really began without any foresight as to what the pantoum would be about.  My only intention was, as the first verse suggests, to teach myself the verse form and exemplify it within one poem.

In case you too would like to experiment, here are the rules:

  1. each pantoum stanza must be four lines long,
  2. the poem itself can be any length but must end with the first line,
  3. the second and fourth lines of the first stanza become the first and third lines of the second stanza,
  4. the rhyming of each quatrain is abab,
  5. in the final stanza, the first and third lines are the second and fourth lines of the penultimate stanza, as usual, but the second line is the third line of the first stanza, and the final line is the first line of the first stanza.

I hope that makes sense.  A good example to look at is Nellie Wong’s ‘Grandmothers’s Song’ or Donald Justice’s ‘Pantoum of the Great Depression’.

I shall get to work on Carl Rogers’s Pantoum and keep you posted.

Please let me know what you think,


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