Friday, May 22, 2020

A New Poetry Form ~ IN ONE WORD

Howdy, Campers ~ Happy Poetry Friday! (my poems and the link to today's host are below)

But first: May 29th is the last day to enter to win an author-and-illustrator-autographed copy of Amy Alznauer's book, THE BOY WHO DREAMED OF INFINITY, which has gotten starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly! Go to Esther's post and scroll to the end for directions on how to enter.

We TeachingAuthors generally post Writing Workouts on Wednesdays, but we figure you're blurry-eyed and zoomhausted. Some of you may be desperately looking for a ready-to-go writing exercise for yourself, your kids or your classroom.

Or, you've had two cups of strong coffee, read the whole newspaper including the real estate ads, weeded your entire yard, vacuumed, run 10 miles, made two loaves of sourdough, finished the 1000-piece puzzle and are now looking for something fun to do.

Either way, this round we're offering you GRAB 'N GO WRITING EXERCISES

And today, we're going to learn a new poetry form.

drawing (c) 2020 April Halprin Wayland all rights reserved
Or maybe it's a form I hadn't heard of if you're familiar with it, I'm all ears!

First I'll show you my poem, using this form, then I'll tell you its backstory.

The poem:

by April Halprin Wayland
"I feel we've been duped,"
he began, "our world's been upended,
you crept
into our lives so deep
we must prune
you, denude
you. And though we've been reduced,
we have also endured.
But I can no longer pretend.
This is unprecedented."

poem © 2020 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

The backstory:

The word UNPRECEDENTED is in almost every sentence of every answer, every op-ed, every comment, every excuse right now. And frankly, I'm freaking tired of it.

And in the poem above, every word at the end of each line can be found in the word unprecedented.

The site Wordmaker finds all the words hidden within a longer word. It found 321 words in Unprecedented. 321! Of those, I choose 31 one to play with. And of the 31, I used 10 in the final poem.

How to write an IN ONE WORD poem:
1) Think of a word. Any word--one you've always loved, one that enrages you, that peaks your interest, or speaks to you.
2) Look it up in Wordmaker (to make it more challenging, don't look it up...find the words yourself)
3) Choose some words on that list...then use or toss them, one by one.
4) Write the poem as prose--in one paragraph.
5) Break the paragraph up into a poem so that each line ends with one of the words from your list.
6) NOTE: in 2021 I began to break rule #5 in one of two ways:
a) These days, the lines of my IN ONE WORD poems do NOT end with the words from my list. I bury the words within the poem so it makes more sense and reads better.
b) OR: I simply scoop up a bucket of words from those within my word. Not more than 20, usually less. I let myself play with those words any way I want to, in any order. SO MUCH FUN!

Okay, here's one's today's very rough draft:
POEM-MAKING (title is from the book of the same name by Myra Cohn Livingston)
by April Halprin Wayland
It's a kind of art—
lit by air
and light. Kept in a vault,

it can only chase it's own tail.
So blow on it, gently—this is vital.
It's yours; invent your own ritual.

poem © 2020 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved==========================

The backstory:

For this poem, I choose another word that's used so often it's driving me bonkers: VIRTUAL.

Below are the 18 words I decided to play with from the 65 words offered by Wordmaker.
I used the six that I've crossed out: 
it, lit, air, art, rut, rail, tail, liar, vial, vail, rival, trial, vault, viral, vital, trail, ultra, ritual

One of the wonders of this form is that I can take a word that makes me sick and come up with a poem that's kind or glowing. 

I think I've invented a new poetry form! An IN ONE WORD poem.  What do you think?

update: Mary Lee, from the A Year of Reading blog, wrote a wonderful IN ONE WORD poem to "do the internal work of anti-racism"...and here it is...WOW
drawing (c) 2020 April Halprin Wayland all rights reserved

It sure is fun to play with. Try it!  And if you're feeling brave, share it with us!
Thank you, Carol, for hosting Poetry Friday today at Beyond Literary!

posted by April Halprin Wayland with a hug she wishes weren't virtual or unprecedented
drawing (c) 2020 April Halprin Wayland all rights reserved


Irene Latham said...

You're brilliant, April! What fun wordplay... and can I just say your drawings always bring a smile. xo

Janice Scully said...

This form is a great idea! It's like fighting back against words that we are so sick of hearing and building something interesting out of them. The word unprecedented is so over used and probably not true most of the time when it describes a current event or something someone has done. I enjoyed reading these and so glad I know about Wordmaker.

Carol Varsalona said...

Apil< I love your new poem form. I am going to give it a try at some time and share it with my grad students this summer so they can try it with their students. Thank you, I am going to head over to Esther's post now.

Carmela Martino said...

Wow, April! This is BRILLIANT! And perfect for someone like me who loves word games like Jumble and Word Connect. And what a terrific resource in Wordmaker.
Like you, I'm sick of the word unprecedented. How marvelous that you've turned it into a terrific poem!

Linda B said...

I love this, April, yes, brilliant & I am so inspired, a new challenge for this week! I love them both, but especially the connections you've made from 'virtual', & also, your sketches are quite inspiring, too! Thanks for all & I promise NOT to use the word 'unprecedented' ever again!

Karen Eastlund said...

April: This is intriguing! I think you DID create a new form. I must try it... Thanks so much, and ... I love your drawings also... Perfect!

Linda Mitchell said...

Oh, how fun! You have me running for my notebook...which is not exactly un-precedented. I love tackling a new form. Thanks!

CS Perryess said...

Great way to construct a poem, April, & a fine poem on top of it.
Thanks heaps.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

So fun, and goes rather well with the nested poems idea in Irene's new book: mixing and shifting at letter level, at word level! I do feel like there has to be some way--in the title, perhaps--to know what word is being worked...Thank you!! (And I too love your drawings.)

Margaret Simon said...

I love new poetry forms to try. I wish I were still with my students (last day of school was Friday, in a way.) They love playing with challenging, yet doable forms. Your poems are fun and take a turn away from the exhaustion over unprecedented and virtual. Thanks for sharing!

laurasalas said...

Oh, gosh, I LOVE this, April! "Kept in a vault,/it can only chase its own tail." Brilliant. I can't wait to play with this!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dearest Irene! Heidi says it is very much like your new book! I got the arc, and I haven't had a chance to open it yet!! I will read it tomorrow... I can't wait! (it's midnight now. I must get to bed)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Janice... You're absolutely's backa way to fight back. I had a huge password issue with two websites over the last few weeks, and I think we finally solved it today. I'm fried. But I used the word password for today's one word poem, and it helped me. It was like therapy!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carol! I'd LOVEto read what your grad students come up with, if they're willing.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks Carmela ~ as Janice points out, it is a way to deal with the words thatdthat us nuts

April Halprin Wayland said...

I'm holding you to that promise, Linda!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you, Karen. I wish I had time to draw more. okay, you can always make time for the things you really want to do, right? I guess...

April Halprin Wayland said...

You just made me laugh, Linda! Good use of the word unprecedented.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Your comments always mean a lot to me, CS. I hope you try it. Let me know.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Heidi ~ I was sent Irene's arc, but I haven't opened it yet! I can't wait to read it tomorrow. And yes... I wrestled with whether or not to make the poem a sort of guessing game... deliberately not including the actual word. Clearly,a notation has to accompany each poem telling the word that inspired the poem. Maybe I should have added that to how this form is constructed. Do you think the poem title should actually be the word itself?

April Halprin Wayland said...

Margaret... The word exhaustion seems like a great starting point for this form! You want to write it?

April Halprin Wayland said...

Laura, as with many poems, what happened with these words came as a complete surprise to me

Mrs. Wyman said...

This is like a shiny new toy, April! My favorite word is "riparian" and I love that it gave me piranha, LOL! Can't wait to play around with this. Cheers! -- Christie @

Molly Hogan said...

Oh! What fun! I can't wait to play around with this. I, too, am sick of the word unprecedented. I love that you can take a word that you dislike and make of it what you will or linger in a word you enjoy. My mind is awhirl with possibilities and thankful for an exciting, positive focus. Thank you!

Mary Lee said...

These are so fun! Almost like Irene's Nest/Nestlings! I'll have to try this!

(And I'm with you on the overuse of unprecedented!!!)

April Halprin Wayland said... IS like playing. It taked to extreme the way we sometimes choose words out of thin air...

April Halprin Wayland said...

Christie ~ I love that word! It's so funny how the dark side can appear out of a light word, while sunshine can climb out have a depressing word.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Molly,yes,yes! When I draw a blank, it's fun to pull a word out of the sky...

April Halprin Wayland said...

Mary Lee ~ YES! Very much like Irene's nest / nestlings!

Karol Ruth Silverstein said...

This was really fun! He's my stab at the form (definitely a rough draft):

In my youth it provided a convenient alibi
when I was running late, which was most days.
The darkness, the pain, the exhaustion daily.
It grew into a consciousness, a fierceness on blast.
Sometimes sad.
Behaving badly.
Language salty.
Until I saw there were dragons to slay.
And that I had a say.
In my own Iliad.
Only then could I truly blossom in the vessel where I’d been planted—like a daisy.
Letting go of my own bias.
And embracing my (dis)ability.

Bobbi Miller said...

I love this post. I think you're brilliant. And inspirational. Thank you!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Karol Ruth ~ what a fascinating, revealing look at "disability" in so many ways. Wow.

And Bobbi...I am blushing, especially because I respect and admire YOU so much. <3

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I second, third and fourth Irene Latham's opening comment: you are brilliant, April!
I LOVE this form and will share it with my writers.
Thank you for keeping my Writing Chops exercised!

skanny17 said...

I am late to finding this post! I can't wait to try this new form and enjoy your post and poems. Thank you.
Janet Clare F.

Leigh Anne Eck said...

I have arrived here from Linda Baie's blog, and I believe this is my first time here. I can't wait to try this form and to look around here at your corner of the world!

Mary Ann Rodman said...

More than a little late to the party, but so glad I read this post. What a cool idea! IF (big IF) I have Young Writers Camp this summer, this is definitely something I can use with my more advanced kids. Waaay cool.

Michelle Kogan said...

Inspiring new form April, I'm looking forward to trying it! I missed you last week, but after reading Linda Baie's poem of this form I had to come by and take it all in. Love your drawings too, especially the animated one at the end, thanks!

April Halprin Wayland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Halprin Wayland said...

Esther, Skanny17, Leigh Anne, Mary Ann & Michelle,

First of all, thank you very very much for reading this post. I want to apologize for those of you who also have blogs. I almost never get to any other blogs. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a very slow reader. So I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I haver simply read the posts of my fellow TeachingAuthors.

Second, Janet Wong recently sent me on the trail of Bob Raczka’s book,LEMONADE (2013). In it he teaches a similar form, but takes it one step further: the ONLY words in each poem are words that can be found in the title word! It's a condensed version--a more challenging version--of IN ONE WORD poems. Pretty amazing