P for Palindrome #NaPoWriMo2021

A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or some sequence of numbers/ characters (like a Time Stamp) which reads the same backwards as in forward, such as civic, madam, rotator.

We apply the same concept in a Palindrome poem. It is divided into two halves, with same set of words in both the halves. However the order of words in the second half must be in reverse. Note that there is a word in the middle which acts as a bridge between the two halves. Due to this structure of two halves, it is also known as ‘Mirror Poetry’
While the rules sound very simple, it is equally harder to execute them. For instance, you can’t start the poem with words like ‘A’ and ‘the’ unless you plan to end the poem with them. You will have to use short phrases with minimum use of conjuctions as you have to make sure your words make sense both in the first half and on the way back.

Here’s an Palindrome I composed during #NaPoWriMo2020 :-

Love awakens and
life changes
Metaphors of desire
Moments sweep you
Till dreams become ashes
Love is
Palindromic,
is Love?
Ashes become dreams
till you sweep moments
Desire of metaphors
changes life
and awakens love.

O for Ottava Rima #NaPoWriMo2021

Ottava Rima is a poetry form of Italian origin. This form came into being around the late 13th and early 14thcentury and was developed by Tuscan poets. It was established as a form for epic and narrative verse. 
In English, it was used by Lord Byron to write Beppo and Don Juan. It was also employed by contemporary poets like William Butler Yeats and Kenneth Koch

An Ottava Rima stanza has 8 lines with an abababcc rhyme scheme and is written in Iambic pentameter (10 syllables). Some sources on this form define it as a poem with 8 lines of 11 syllables each. It can work as a stand-alone poem or with multiple stanzas.

Here’s my example :-

It came to me seeking myself anew
Dear old ego writhing in agony
Probing me for some sacred darkness too
Waking up the man living inside me
She walks with me, a purpose to pursue
Carrying a list of those who wronged me
A thread, a nail, and few judgments to cast
and burn down the home that houses the past

N for Nonet #NaPoWriMo2021

The nonet poetic form is simple. It’s a 9-line poem that has 9 syllables in the first line, 8 syllables in the second line, 7 syllables in the third line, and continues to count down to one syllable in the final (ninth) line.

Here is a Nonet I wrote during NaPoWriMo 2020 :

I see the truth has been washed ashore
Lifeless like the sand it lays in
draped in dirt it has rolled in
hoping to be picked up,
be saved by the sun
And with a smirk,
the lie stands
amongst
us.

M for Mondo #NaPoWriMo2021

Mondo is another short form of poetry that comes from Japan. The idea is to pose a question in the first stanza and then try to answer it in the second. A single stanza of a Mondo has 5-7-7 syllabic structure knows as a Katuata (side poem or a half poem). The Mondo is pretty similar to a Sedoka but varies in terms of the subject matter, which is nature for mondos. This form was used as a religious training method by monks in the past, written in the spirit of Zen and encapsulating an observation of natural surroundings. It was sometimes written by two different poets.

Here’s an example :-

The Sun in glory
and a shallow creek, how it
begins before it begins?

Nature finds a way
Grain by grain, the hills falter
A valley soaked in beauty

L for Lai #NaPoWriMo2021

Lai is a French form of poetry with 9 lines and a strict syllabic structure. The rules of a Lai are pretty simple and stated below:-

• 9 lines with 2 rhymes.

• Structured as aabaabaab.

• Lines ending with the ‘a’ rhyme are five syllables long.

• Lines ending with the ‘b’ rhyme are two syllables long.

• a total of 36 syllables

There is no particular rule on the subject matter.

Here’s my attempt at a Lai :-

A picture so clear
with a hint of cheer
We see
what we wish to fear
what our eyes could hear
a plea
an eternal sneer
You held moments dear,
or me?

K for Kwansaba #NaPoWriMo2021

The Kwansaba is a form of praise poetry invented by Eugene B. Redmond. This form is based on the seven day holiday of Kwanzaa and the its seven principles – unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The poetry form celebrates and praises these seven principles in African- American communities. Some of its elements of praise are derived from South African traditions.

It is a seven line poem with seven words in each line. No word in the poem exceeds the letter count of seven. There are no rhyming constraints in this form.

Here’s my attempt at one. The muse of my example is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou.

Born and raised in the Guinea Gulf
Forged in the fire of Central world
He sailed to cross the endless sea
and failed, failed till he made it
to the city of lights, under lights
The hands of steel left a mark
A golden crown rests on his waist.

J for John-Tee Sonnet #NaPoWriMo2021

Sonnets have been an interesting form to write ever since they originated in Italy in the 13th century. The term ‘Sonnet’ is derived from Italian word sonetto (meaning- little song). A sonnet in general has 14 lines and follows some sort of strict rhyme scheme.

The ‘John tee Sonnet’ extensively uses refrains. Some sources on this source suggests it is a form with no stanza divides while some other has defined it as a poem with an octave (8-line stanza) and a sestet (6-line stanza). There is no metrical or syllabic constraints in this form.

A ‘John Tee Sonnet’ is structured as – A B a b c d A B e f g h A B.

Here’s my attempt at one :-

I have made a list of things to do
May be I’ll get to it tomorrow
I haven’t had a drink in a while
Haven’t cleaned all that needs cleaning
Haven’t called the person I was supposed to
Haven’t even finished the poem I left stranded
I have made a list of things to do
May be I’ll get to it tomorrow
Haven’t felt sorry for things I did wrong
Haven’t been praying for things I desire
Haven’t been gracious for things I have
Never learnt from the mistakes I made
I have made a list of things to do
May be I’ll get to it tomorrow.

I for Imayo #NaPoWriMo2021

The Imayo is another very interesting Japanese form. It is a 4-line poem with 12 syllables in each line. There is a pause between the 7th syllable in each line (also known as a caesura in poetic terms). So every line in this poem is divided into a 7-5 syllable splits. These 5/7 syllable splits might remind you of similar patterns found in other Japanese forms like haiku, senryu and tanka.

The Imayos were originally written to be sung. But over time they have become more of a poetic form only. Also, unlike most of the other Japanese forms there are no constraints when it comes to the theme of the poem.

In most of the examples of Imayo Poems, I found that if you separate all the 7 syllable parts and all the 5 syllable parts, you get two different poems. Here’s my example :-

I often struggle with words, they never find me
Like poems and poets do, metaphors divine
I crave for flawless syntax, prose of perfection
Unmatched vocabulary, To write what I feel

H for Haiku #NaPoWriMo2021

Haiku is a Japanese form of Poetry which now has become widely popular, specially among the English poets. The traditional Japanese form is a 17 syllable poem which has three lines with the first and the last line each having 5 syllables and the 2nd line carrying 7 syllables.

There has been a lot of debate on whether to follow the 5-7-5 structure in English Haikus or not. There are obviously inherent differences in both the languages (Japanese and English) and hence some poets label it as a ‘traditional misunderstanding’ to carry the 5-7-5 form in English. So, may be it is better to just work with the short, concise wording and a reference to nature; the elements of a traditional Haiku. Well, since poets are the only governing bodies of their poems, we can do pretty much what we want with our poems.

I will leave an example by the greatest master of ‘Haiku’ Matsuo Bashō followed by one of my attempts.

古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音
Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto

English translation:

The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.

And, here’s mine:

A candle burnt bright
vivacious night in fumes
Morning dew is served

G for Golden Shovel #NaPoWriMo2021

The Golden Shovel form was created by Award winning US poet Terrance Hayes in 2010. ‘The Golden Shovel’ is actually a poem in his book Lighthead written to honour one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century and Pulitzer Prize winner, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000). Terrance’s piece was based on Gwendolyn’s ‘We Real Cool‘.

Use the links to visit both these poems and see how it works.
The golden rule for the Golden Shovel poem is – Borrow a line (or multiple lines) from a poem (or the entire poem like the example above) you admire and use each of their words as the end-words in your poem. Make sure you keep them in order and make sure you credit the poet for the orignal line(s) of the base poem. The new poem doesn’t necessarily have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

Here’s my example :-
I am using the line “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” from William Butler Yeats’, ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

This pulp of desire I tread
whispers to me softly
Don’t open your eyes yet, because
this joy of cinching her, you
may never again tread.

These rainbow soaked shadows shall live on
And none shall fathom the depths of my
opalescent dreams.