Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Obviously, because I’m starting to immerse myself in the Oulipost warm-ups for NaPoMo in April, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about constraints, and formal poetry. I usually avoid sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, and the sort like the plague. Not because I don’t like them or feel intimidated, but mainly because they take a lot more time. As I write that, that sounds bad, because it sounds like I don’t spend a lot of time on the poetry I write, but I do – a lot. I guess the thing is, I steal a little time here and a little time there and can write something to my liking that I can work with – a lot quicker. It doesn’t feel forced. When you get into the rhyme schemes and things like that, that can come (not always!) with sonnets, sestinas, etc., it feels like what you can write about is limited.

However, one of my favorite poems to do in form is the pantoum. I’ve had a lot of success with them, and I find that I enjoy what they have to offer. I also love to write haiku and senryu poems which also come with their own rules. But as with anything, rules are meant to be broken – and you’ll find, if you look into these structured poem forms the rules have been broken by many poets throughout the years…even if it’s with tense changes in the pantoum, or the “American-ized” haiku that doesn’t always follow the 5-7-5 rule.

Since in the next month I will be writing a lot more here with the Oulipost assignments (and posting them daily in April!) I thought that I would give you a few ideas for writing some “formal” poetry if that interests you during April – National Poetry Month.

I’ve linked the forms that I’ve mentioned, but below I’ve posted a “template” that I made for my students to use as an exercise – and that can give you something to work with too. Pantoums lend themselves well to things that happen over and over again (such as weight loss, relationships, seasons, history, etc.) I usually work with five-six stanzas myself, but they can be as long as you want, but your last stanza must end with the second line as C and your last line as A. I challenge you to write a pantoum! If you feel so inclined you can share it here in comments, or email me here. Have fun!

Pantoum Poem Template:

A

B

C

D

 

B

E

D

F

 

E

G

F

H

 

G

I

H

J

 

I

C

J

A

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