To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 16th

Today’s first device from Packard’s A Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Ode: An extended lyric, on a single theme or subject, often of considerable length and usually using recognizable STANZA patterns. The word “ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and the form may have had its origins with Sappho in the middle of the seventh centruy B.C., because her surviving work includes one complete ode and four stanzas of a second ode. The later Greek poet Pindar wrote triumphal odes, and the Roman poet Horace wrote odes as well as SATIRES and EPISTLES.

I am sharing here the first two stanzas of an original poem entitled “Ode to Today.”  It is quite lengthy, so I won’t post the entire poem.  The “single theme or subject” is the kind of sadness that is brought on by loneliness or rejection.  As for recognizable stanza patterns, there are not any; at least, not the way I think Packard means.  The stanzas get “fatter” on the page (the lines get longer) and build to a middle, a crescendo, before they shrink again.  That effect was not anything I tried to achieve consciously, but it is suitable for the poem. Continue reading

Compulsion! A Week in One Day?

Those of you who know me personally, know that my monkey mind just cannot stand the thought of something incomplete.  I never finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled.  The novel is 535 pages in length, and I quit with 120 pages to go.  Stopped.  At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do.  I found the novel exhausting and frustrating, and finally reached a point at which I decided no “conclusion” was going to be satisfactory to me.  Now, at that time, I was the already-exhausted mother of a toddler.  I needed “beach lit,” not Ishiguro’s astonishingly complex, mysterious Sartre-like journey.  Anyway, at the time, I knew quitting it was the right thing to do … and the fact that I did quit haunts me to this very day.

So here we are:  I have been absent from this blog for several days, the second such period of quiet, and I had committed to myself that I would write or share a poem every day, using William Packard’s book, The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Prose, as a jumping off point.

Well, please don’t think I have been neglecting poetry.  In fact, I was too tired to write here on Sunday because of preparation for an upcoming ensemble reading that I have been asked to be part of (more on that later), and I have also been neck deep dealing with the poetry that is “family.”  Enough, however!  I must set this thing aright.  I said there would be 30 posts in April, and 30 posts it shall be.

Watch this space …

April 24, 2010

Today’s device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Oxymoron:  A radical paradox; a conjunction of extreme opposites.  “Dry ice is so cold that it burns” is an example of oxymoron.

In poetry, oxymoron also functions metaphorically (see METAPHOR) to express a state of ambivalence or contradiction. …

Old Lamb
(by Suzanne Baldwin Leitner)

“What did the tired nurse
say to the complaining
‘Take your Oxy

And that’s what
every interminable
minute was like
with him: a slow
trot from one
sad joke
to the next.

April 23, 2010: Just say noh (oh, brother)

From William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices:

Noh:  A tradition in Japanese poetry and theater that is over six hundred years old; called “the immeasurable scripture” because it is a synthesis of song and dance and poetry and drama and religion. …

Well, obviously no noh happens in one sitting, and it won’t be happening here! My only other option under “N” is a cross-reference (NARRATIVE  See DRAMATIC-NARRATIVE POETRY; GENRES) and I am too much of a purist to fool with cross references for this exercise.

We shall, however, honor the Japanese poetry form with a tanka.  Thanks for reading!


The calm that settles
over us before a storm
is a counterfeit;
it is not fury’s absence.
It is fury coiling up.

-Suzanne Baldwin Leitner

April 22, 2010 (and Happy Earth Day)

Today’s device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Macaronics:  The use of foreign words to enrich the texture of DICTION in a poetic line.  The most common practice of macaronics is the mixture of vernacular worlds with Latin words, but macaronics can be any combination of two or more languages in any given passage.

I tried to use today’s device as a forced writing exercise, comfortable in the notion that poets all over the country are doing something similar, either through a collective daily writing prompt, or some other self-imposed practice.  In other words, what follows is a draft – but I’m sure it isn’t the only draft on the internet today!  Thanks for reading! Continue reading