Plog 3rd August 2011

August 3rd, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

A number of people have asked me how I write the peculiar poems I come out with on a daily basis. It is not very difficult

Let’s start off with an example of what an acrostic does:

An acrostic is a verse in which the
Beginning letter of the line forms a
Column down the side of the page, like this
Do you want to have a go, depicting
Each letter of the alphabet in turn?

If you do want to have a go at the whole alphabet, you’d probably need to allow about an hour for the process; but the convenient thing about acrostics is that you can make them relevant to your daily life by choosing a word appropriate to your current feelings. This enables you to elucidate your emotions in a succinct format with a beginning and end. You have finished the poem by the time you have written a line, starting with the last letter of the word.

Anger . . . Joy . . . Stress . . . you get the idea.

So that is how you do it. You write a word down the left-hand margin and extend the lines towards the right.

If you would like the lines to be of similar lengths, you may like to count the syllables. Each line in the acrostic above has ten.

You can even make the poetry rhyme. For a single acrostic, it is fairly easy:

As ‘acrostic’ is an eight-letter-word
Conveniently the rhyme can be heard
Ringing in heroic couplets like so
Or if you prefer alternate rhymes, go
Sequentially missing a line. Knit one
Then slip one and knit one again in turns
It’s a variegating tune, begun
Creatively, and as one lives, one learns.

You can see the AABBCDCD rhyming pattern down the right-hand-side of the poem and the word ‘acrostic’ stretching down the left-hand margin. It is another ten-syllable-line verse.

This sort of rhythm becomes second-nature with practice. You may find it’s like passing your driving test: once you’ve got through the initial stages of familiarising yourself with the highway code, you’re conditioned for the rest of your life to be searching for a parking space . . .

Perhaps you see double acrostics as requiring a sort of crossword-puzzle mentality, but I can assure you I have never had the patience with twisting words in this manner. It feels like a crucifixion of meaning.

My view is that starting with the intention of expressing how you feel, all you need to do is distil the meaning by filling in the blanks; but there is a need to find words ending with specific letters. ‘Q’s and ‘J’s are difficult!

The first step in designing a double acrostic is to choose two words of equal length. For me, with a preference for fourteen letter words, Choreographing Transformation is ideal.

Sonnets have fourteen lines and there is something aesthetically pleasing about this length, which I have not yet been able to identify.

If you have any ideas about the magical properties of a sonnet, please comment below. I have always wondered if it is a natural human preference, or whether we just become accustomed to these traditional forms.

Here is the first of the double acrostics I wrote on June 27th. I then made the commitment to write another double acrostic linking the words Choreographing Transformation for the next three weeks.

Twenty one days is believed to be the length of time it takes to establish a habit. By the end of three weeks I felt I had definitely passed my driving test.

Some of the emotions you uncover may take longer to disentangle; but why should you compromise with redundant internal thought processes? Choreographing transformation can be more than an aesthetic exercise.

If you would like help monitoring your progress towards gaining a poetry habit, you are welcome to contact me:


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  1. Linguim
    5. January 2012

    En resumen fue lo que quise decir, jeje. Saludos.

  2. Katrina
    6. January 2012

    Hi Saludos,

    Thank you for stopping by. 🙂 Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I don’t speak your language and had to ask my sister, who’s a legal linguist in Scotland, for a translation. It is good to hear something is resonating.

    Actually, tomorrow I am going to a poetry workshop, in which the theme is ‘translation’ so I’m taking a selection of poems from around the world. When I worked for an accountancy firm in London, I collected an assortment from China, Russia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India. It is fun interpreting face-to-face, without recourse to a dictionary, but that is more challenging on the internet.

    Have a great new year! (and teach me a few words when you have the chance)

    Katrina

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