Writing again!

Filed Under Writing 

It’s been a long dry spell, but after a year of tremendous change I feel ready to begin writing again. More importantly, I am ready to write and post regularly. I’m using Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within as my impetus. Fry, an incredibly funny actor and writer, penned this book as both a personal love letter to poetry and a fun how-to guide to would-be poets like me. Included in the book is a series of writing exercises, the result of which I will share here.

Just to be clear: this is not earth-shattering, Pultizer-winning poetry. This is me playing with meter, rhyme and form.

My hope is to post daily. This first post will include the results of the first four writing exercises from Fry’s book. I will give you Fry’s instructions so you know what I’m trying to accomplish. That said …

Exercise 1: Write out 20 lines of iambic pentameter (some are pairs, others are free-standing)

The subway car rocks to and fro and fro.

I don’t know what to do with all my books.

Perhaps I might just throw them in a ditch.

The play we say today it made me laugh.

I love to play with words and make them glow.

Do kitty cats dream like we humans do?

Or do they drop, descend to dreamless sleep?

My friend she dithers while she knits and sits.

I run and try to make the train on time.

No matter if I care a whit (I don’t).

The bird songs cry at morning noon and night.

Do you believe our souls go on and on?

Or do you think they just go up or down?

The whippoorwill it whips and wills at will.

Time stops and I am roughly on the ground.

She sleeps her hair falls gently in her face.

Red strands that fly and show off hairs of white.

She really hates those strands of white, she does.

This exercise is fun I find and yet,

I wonder if my kids would like it, too.

Exercise 2:

Part 1: Write five pairs of blank iambic pentameter with end-stopped lines and no caesuras.

The birds they sing, the dogs they whine and bark.

A car exhaust coughs out black inky smoke.

I want a chip with sour cream and now.

I also crave a pizza slice with meat.

I never can recall my wildest dreams,

Excepts for nightmares from my youngest days.

Those piles that clutter up my desk and floors,

I must take them and more to shred, not store.

My thighs resemble blocks of moldy cheese.

My arms would make a hero envy green.

Part 2: 5 pairs of unrhymed iambic pentameter with enjambment and caesura.

Tweet, tweet! Bird songs caress my ears, yet dogs

whose barking does not cease at all – do not.

Ah chips! You taunt me with your salty crips

and carby rush. And pizza tempts with goo.

They grow. And spread. And my young soul retreats

into a fear that only mommy saves.

Receipts and paper bills. They breed and spread

throughout my floors and desk like creeping crud.

The jiggle of my fatty thighs. It galls

me to my core. I volunteer to swap.

Exercise 3: 16 lines of iambic pentameter – 5 points for trochaic and pyrrhic susubstitutions, 2 points for enjambments, 2 points for feminine endings.

Sawdust and brick lay crossing in low squares.

I wish my love would rush: Hear me! I don’t

Know if he loves me still and yet I yearn.

This home not yet a home because he wanders.

Ah me! Break my longing heart. Set me free

To roam and love as you do now. Cruel man!

Harlem. One hundred twenty fifth street station.

Green trees, red brick graffitied walls that hide

So many stories of greatness. Oh Langston

What would you think of your Harlemites now?

American Dream – the stars and the stripes.

Winner take all? Or is “all” still lost away?

The moon its phases, rungs sent to heaven

That creak and screech and do not reek of cheese.

Is it a 9? A squorl of white on black?

Or racing tracks that lead to nowhere fast.

Exercise 4:

Part 1: 2 quatrains of iambic tetrameter

The weather it is not so great.

Grey clouds they hover in the sky

While humid air sticks to my hair.

I stay inside and wait for dry.

My kitty cats sits on my lap.

He purrs and cheers my heart to joy.

His furry gray hair sticks to all.

But that’s what vacuum bags are for.

Part 2: 2 quatrains of alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter

It rains its seems all day and night.

I cannot stand it more.

I long for those dry days and nights.

Oh! My sweet October.

My Fluff, sweet Fluff, who purrs at touch.

He loves it when I scratch.

His fuzzy butt, so grey and soft.

We are a perfect match.

Part 3: 2 quatrains of trochaic tetrameter, one in pure trochee and one with docked endings in the second and fourth lines.

Rain, you suck and have to go now.

Humid air you must go also.

I cannot take much more of this.

Hair gel only does so much, yo.

Kitty, kitty on my soft lap,

Purring strong into the night.

Whiskers tickle my own arm hairs.

Please don’t ever leave my side.

Whew! That’s alotta poetry! 🙂


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