Friday, October 1, 2021

Playing with Poetry Snowballs

Happy Poetry Friday! Today, I kick off a new series on the topic of PLAY and share a related poem. It's also the last day of our current giveaway, so if you haven't entered yet, be sure to check out the link at the end of this post.

When we TeachingAuthors were discussing our next topic, April Halprin Wayland suggested "something light, such as, how we each play with words." The idea felt perfect, especially because I'd recently read the following Tweet from Nir Eyal:

 Personally, I have been doing a lot of playing lately--with poetry!

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash
 
Back in December of 2020
, I'd shared:

"one of the things I'm looking forward to in 2021 is becoming even more steeped in poetry, both reading and writing it."

I'm happy to say that I followed through on that intention. I've been not only reading and writing more poetry, but submitting it for publication, too. I'm thrilled to announce that several of my poems have been accepted and will be coming out in two new anthologies. I can't share the details yet, but will provide them when I'm able. 

One way that I've been playing with poetry is by writing in new-to-me forms, particularly math-based ones, such as pi-ku, Fib poems, and Etherees. I recently learned about snowball poems, developed by the OULIPO. If you aren't familiar with the organization, here's a description of OULIPO from Poets.org:

"Although poetry and mathematics often seem to be incompatible areas of study, the philosophy of OULIPO seeks to connect them. Founded in 1960 by French mathematician Francois de Lionnais and writer Raymond Queneau, Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle (OULIPO), or Workshop of Potential Literature, investigates the possibilities of verse written under a system of structural constraints. Lionnais and Quenuau believed in the profound potential of a poem produced within a framework or formula and that, if done in a playful posture, the outcomes could be endless."

While writing my first snowball, or boule de neige, as the OULIPO call it, I definitely tried to keep a "playful posture." Here's what I came up with:

Background photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

This snowball poem is an example of one that grows, which is called a boule de neige de longueur. Such poems should resemble a right triangle. The text I've quoted in my poem is taken from this page. There, you can read more about the various types and shapes of snowball poems.

As I worked on this poem, I realized I have written snowballs before, in the form of nonets and Etherees. So technically, this isn't really my first snowball poem, though it's the first containing twelve lines. 😀

I'm wondering how many of you are familiar with snowball poems. Have you ever written one? Do let me know in the comments. I also wonder: Is there a name for a poem that describes the form it's written in? I think there should be.

You can check out more poetry at this week's Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Before heading over there, though, don't forget to enter our current giveaway if you haven't already done so. Details are at the end of Esther's Student Success Story interview with Gwen Neiman Levy about the release of her debut picture book, What the Cluck?

Happy writing!
Carmela

17 comments:

Julie Phend said...

Hi Carmela,
It's great fun to watch you play with poetry. And I'm excited to hear more about your upcoming successes.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Julie. I look forward to sharing the news. :-)

Janice Scully said...

I have written an etheree and a fibonacci poem before and I think it's fun making the numbers work. Didn't know they were snowball poems. I like how your poem addresses in the last line the fun of trying.

Linda Mitchell said...

Cool! Congrats on more time to play and more publications. That's wonderful. Your snowball poem fits our Inkling challenge this week too. Serendipitious!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Carmela, I love learning about OULIPO, although honestly was the idea of formal constraints leading to profound playfulness new even in 1960? As Linda says, it's as though you were channeling us INKLINGS this week since we all wrote those poems that describe the form they're written in. No name that we know of...I do like the "boule de neige" idea very much!

Ruth said...

Very fun! Poetry so often is about playing with words.

Catherine Flynn said...

What a fun post! Your snowball poem is inspiring--I can't wait to write one! As Linda and Heidi mentioned, your poem fit right in with our Inkling challenge this month. Serendipity, indeed. Congratulations on your publishing success! Looking forward to hearing more about those anthologies.

mbhmaine said...

Congratulations on your upcoming publications and yay! for playing with poetry. I'd never heard of snowball poems, but am familiar with a few types you mentioned. I'm always fascinated by how restrictions in form so often lead to more creativity. Thanks for a great post!

Margaret Simon said...

I love this form and like other Inklings, love how it fits well with our challenge this month. I am gathering these into a unit for my students. Forms are fun for kids to try. They like the challenge of fitting into the constraints. I do, too.

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Janice, thanks for stopping by. Just to clarify: A Fib poem is not a snowball poem, but Etherees and nonets are.

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Linda, yes, it is Serendipitious! I had no idea about the challenge.

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Heidi, even though I studied French in school, I couldn't have told you how to say snowball before I learned about the "boule de neige" poems. :-)

Carmela Martino said...

Ruth, it really helps me to think of poetry as play--otherwise my perfectionism takes over and I'd never finish a poem!

Carmela Martino said...

Catherine, thanks for stopping by, and for hosting the roundup this week.

Carmela Martino said...

MBHMAINE, it does seem paradoxical that having to write in a specific form can increase creativity instead of limit it.

Carmela Martino said...

Margaret, when I work with young writers I often find they prefer writing within a structure. I think it gives them a starting point. Hope your students enjoy the unit!

Mary Ann Rodman said...

I'm always thrilled to learn new forms of poetry (I'm such a poetry neophyte.) Thank you for sharing your snowball building with us.