Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Writing Workout: Fibs!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'm posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. Today's form is a Fib, a counted-syllable form with an increasing number of syllables per line, following the Fibonacci sequence. Each number in the series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on) is formed by adding the two previous numbers. The Fibonacci sequence can “describe an amazing variety of phenomena, in mathematics and science, art and nature.”

Greg Pincus visited the Teaching Authors last year. He explained the origin of the Fib form on his blog. The New York Times article “Fibonacci Poems Multiply on the Web After Blog's Invitation” describes the form’s increasing popularity. According to the Poetry Foundation, “These short, straightforward poems are that rare thing capable of crafting a bridge between the often disparate souls of art and science.”

When I tried writing Fibs, I found that the lengthening lines seemed to suit a subject that unfolds gradually or a conclusion that slowly dawns on a narrator and/or reader.

In this poem, my early drafts stopped at seven lines. Then I realized I had more to say, so I reversed the pattern and counted back down.

Signs of Spring

my dog
through our neighborhood
in spring, when warning signs crop up
on lush green smooth-as-carpet lawns: Pesticides! Keep off!
How on our dear troubled planet did poison become
an acceptable lawn care tool?
Is grass truly green
if nothing
else can

Today is the last day to enter to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! Details are here.

On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays, including giveaways of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken


Patricia Cruzan said...

Thanks for sharing this type of poem. I don't remember hearing about it before. Maybe I'll try it one day.

April Halprin Wayland said...

JoAnn the child-like voice posing such an on-target question in so few words if wonderful!

Margaret Simon said...

I love writing Fib poems with my students. I'm currently reading "14 Fibs of Gregory K", a fun read. I like how you added that a fib poem fits the subject of something unfolding.

LInda Baie said...

I just introduced the fib to a group of primary children, JoAnn. They enjoyed the structure, & it was fun to see their fingers counting out the syllables. I haven't thought of reversing the order, and like the way you used it here with your topic. Thank you!

Carmela Martino said...

Love this Fib, JA! And the photo that goes with it. Perfect as we celebrate Earth Day this week.

The Write Now! Coach said...

Love this, JoAnn! Thank you!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! In the middle of resolving (I hope!) ongoing computer issues, I'm happy to find such supportive comments. And it's always comforting to think about teachers continuing to write poems with students. Enjoy your Fibs!

Pen N. InkBlog said...


Greg Pincus said...

Fine Fibbery, I say! I see what you mean about the "unfolding" aspect... and, like you, find it a fun way to think of writing poems in the form.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Pen N. Ink,

Greg, thanks for stopping by--and for introducing me to Fibs!