Poetry time by Kirsten Bett

      Photo by Kirsten Bett

In the UK and most of Europe we are missing an hour of sleep... Yes, it's Sunday and yes, it's only a day -- we are not in Stephen King's Insomnia. Thank God. But still. I know I will just have started recovering when we go back to normal time, whatever that might be these days. 

Time is strange. Why do writers care what time it is. I get most ideas for poems while nearly sleeping, I think I will remember them, don't get out my notebook but repeat the lines until I fall asleep, like counting sheep. In the morning I slightly remember what it was about... a tree? Well maybe...All those fantastic lines gone. Sometimes a swim -- pre-Covid activity -- will help make the words come back. Sometimes a walk. 

Pantoums use repetition in a different way. I got the idea to write a pantoum from Sheena Blackhall's poetry workshop at the conference of the Scottish Writers Association (SAW) last weekend. A pantoum repeats lines in a set format to create a poem that sounds like an incantation. I like to read all poems out loud but pantoums need to be read out loud to get that. 

The second and fourth line are used as the first and third line of each following stanza.  You end your poem with the first and third line of the first stanza, some people like to turn those around too so you end with the line you started with -- coming full circle. Are you still with me?

I used a pantoum to describe the narrator of the book I am writing. I thought repeating her charasteristics would work well. 

Wilma in a pantoum


She taps on your palm, folds around gently. 

Gentle purrs beside you, blisser than bliss. 

Picture green gold, you're seeing Wilma's eyes. 

Rounds you up at 8:30, time for bed. 



Gentle purrs beside you, blisser than bliss.  Chases leaves, digs up bulbs, tulip field ways.  Rounds you up at 8:30, time for bed.  Adores tui, black bird, and fantail song. 


Chases leaves, digs up bulbs, tulip field ways.  In love with vet Tony, he saved her life.  Adores tui, black bird, and fantail song.  Blends in pittosporum, hides in full view. 


In love with vet Tony, he saved her life. 

She taps on your palm, folds around gently. 

Blends in pittosporum, hides in full view. 

Picture green gold, you're seeing Wilma's eyes. 


Have you written pantoums? Please send me a link, I'd love to read them!


About the author

Kirsten Bett is writing her first book  My name is Wilma, a personal fiction book from the point of view from her cat Wilma. Wilma emigrated to New Zealand with Kirsten, Wim and their other cat Sailor in 2007. In 2017 they settled in the Netherlands again, but this time not in the busy west. They chose to live in Leeuwarden, Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. 

Kirsten writes a blog Pondering Paws about places, characters and places in the book. She also posts blogs about her other love, poetry.






Comments

Sandra Horn said…
Thank you Kirsten - I love the pantoum! A delightful and instructive post!
Lovely poem - I am always interested in different structures for poetry.
Wendy H. Jones said…
This is brilliant. All done. Sheena Blackhall's workshop was superb and had me trying different things as well.
Kirsten Bett said…
Thanks for your comments everyone, I can't wait to do the other prompts Sheena gave as well.
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Kirsten,

I've never heard of this structure, so interesting to learn the ways in which poems are written.

You did a great job with this one!

eden
Kirsten Bett said…
Thanks Eden as well! I love poems with a specific structure as they help border in the endless possibilities and also give you a puzzle of sorts to solve!
Peter Leyland said…
That's a great post Kirsten. English poet, Wendy Cope is also a great lover of pantoums and other verse forms and is probably worth looking at. I once attended a poetry course taught by her and wrote villanelles, triolets and sonnets. What fun!
Kirsten Bett said…
Thanks Peter, I will check out Wendy Cope's poems, great to hear of new poets!
Reb MacRath said…
Great job, Kirsten. My favorite poet, Auden, used this form a couple of times and I've always been drawn to the form's metric challenge and hypnotic allure.
Kirsten Bett said…
Thanks Reb, I think I read Auden's pantoums a while ago, will check them out again!

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