Monday, August 31, 2009

Playing with metre

Whoa Nelly! As I get a bit more serious about writing poetry and learning about prosody, scansion, metre, etc, as opposed to just writing what I think sounds good, I'm realising how much we didn't learn in school! I remember 'iambic pentametre' from my Shakespeare days, but I didn't ever really grasp what it meant.

There are some great resources on the web for helping numpties like me come to grips with the technicalities of poetry:

Wikipedia entries on metre, prosody and scansion
Interactive quiz on metre
Discovering the iamb and the trochee

(I'd be delighted if anyone would provide further relevant links)

You need to know them in order to use them to your advantage, to break with tradition, or to use traditional constructs to create something purposely formal or constrained.

The below poem is in 'iambic trimetre', meaning there are three 'feet', each of which comprises two syllables, the first unstressed, followed by a stressed syllable, except the fourth line, which has an omitted unstressed syllable. I wrote it after a shocking night last night, where I was febrile and delirious in turns. Noice!

Through my delirium
I can't get past 'I can't';
The words they will not budge.
Tears escape my eyes,
A sleep of toss and turns.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vegetable poetry

Ha! It's not an oxymoron, but a challenge from Positive Words Magazine to write a poem of 10 lines or less or a short story of 100 words or less containing the word 'vegetable(s)'. In response I've penned a poem called 'Herbaceous Heart', which I've submitted.

Here's some more 'food for thought' on vegetable poetry:
Word History: Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" contains many striking phrases and images, but perhaps most puzzling to modern readers is one in this promise from the speaker to his beloved: "Had we but world enough, and time . . . /My vegetable love should grow/Vaster than empires and more slow." One critic has playfully praised Marvell for his ability to make one "think of pumpkins and eternity in one breath," but vegetable in this case is only indirectly related to edible plants. Here the word is used figuratively in the sense "having the property of life and growth, as does a plant," a use based on an ancient religious and philosophical notion of the tripartite soul. As interpreted by the Scholastics, the vegetative soul was common to plants, animals, and humans; the sensitive soul was common to animals and humans; and the rational soul was found only in humans. "Vegetable love" is thus a love that grows, takes nourishment, and reproduces, although slowly. Marvell's 17th-century use illustrates the original sense of vegetable, first recorded in the 15th century. In 1582 we find recorded for the first time the adjective use of vegetable familiar to us, "having to do with plants." In a work of the same date appears the first instance of vegetable as a noun, meaning "a plant." It is not until the 18th century that we find the noun and adjective used more restrictively to refer specifically to certain kinds of plants that are eaten.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Paradise Anthology submission in

Sheesh a 25-word story is a tough ask! I did my best and sent in a sub. I did have a chuckle at the word limit for the bio being twice that of the short, short story!

The Paradise Anthology is seeking short stories 25 word maximum for their next issue to be released in February as part of the St Kilda Festival. Writers will be paid a minimum $20 plus a free copy of the magazine. One story only submitted per writer. Please send stories double spaced in 12 point Times New Roman plus a 50-word bio to

Senryu: Empty words

Words fall soundlessly
Like leaves from a tree in drought.
Speaking empty thoughts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Senryu: Certainty

Babies' sleep patterns:
Even more certain in life
Than death and taxes

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Haiku: When the cat's away

Day descends to night;
Children make sleeping noises.
Time for mice to play.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Haiku: Imagination and Smoulder

These two aren't really Haiku - there's no reference to nature for a start. They're more like Twaiku (mini poems posted on Twitter that are 5-7-5 syllables). These ones fall under the category of #HotHaiku.

You shoot me that look -
The one that makes me smoulder.
It's been a long time.

You brush right past me,
All my senses come alive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can workshops really help you write award-winning stories?

Well, I will find out on 12 September whether I'm a sucker for a catchy workshop title, or whether it really can help me write good short stories. The workshop is being run by the ACT Writers Centre.

Not much in the way of writing going on here. We've been busy with birthdays, parties and life in general. But I have been enjoying reading Story by Robert McKee and Best Australian Short Stories 2008 edited by Delia Falconer. Inspiring stuff.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Poem: Mediterranean blue

i. Aquamarine sea
At the bottom of the cliff:
inviting me in.

ii. A narrow pathway ...
Wondering where it leads to,
Cut from the same rock

iii. I follow it down,
A goat track to the abyss.
The sun disappears.

iv. Steps carved from white stone,
Spiralling, leading me down.
Mysterious light.

v. Down and down I go.
Finally, it opens up:
Celestial pool.

vi. Diving deep into
Mediterranean blue...
Floating in the night.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Poem: Little man

I remember you when I'm sleeping.
Watching your little face,
As you drink your fill from me.

I remember you when I’m dreaming.
Holding your hand with mine,
As you gaze into my eyes.

I remember you when I’m bathing.
Smelling your milky skin,
As you smile with chubby cheeks.

I remember you when I'm awake.
Finding you not breathing,
Your lips a purplish bruise.

I remember you when I’m crying.
Holding you close to me,
Before you went away.

I remember you when I’m happy.
Knowing you will always be
My darling little man.


I wrote this poem for another mother, one I've never met. I read her story about losing her six-month old baby through Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and it hasn't left me. I look at my beautiful son and hold him tight, knowing how lucky I am.

Also posted here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

WEbook submission: Memories

I may be just procrastinating from doing the jobs I should really be doing, but these 50-word stories keep coming to me. Here's another one. Very melancholic and sad. You have been warned.

WEbook submission: Stinky pants

Another nanostory - this one for all the mums out there!

Learning about poetry

It's amazing what you can find on the web. In my last post I liked to, as I'd found a great piece explaining poetic metre. A bit more poking about the site revealed several online courses in poetry that appealed. As I only have limited time each day to spend creatively, I'm keeping my enrollments to a minimum! I've enrolled in Beginners Haiku and Gentle Introduction to Metre.

While I've been writing heaps of 'Twaiku' 5-7-5 syllable poems on Twitter, they're not really Haiku in the traditional sense. In my bid to become a better writer, I thought I should learn how to write real Haiku. This one was composed for my first assignment.

Bird's head
Hidden under wing -
Dusk falls

This Haiku is truer to the traditional structure even though it doesn't conform to the syllabic 'rules'. This is because the Japanese language is not structured around syllables, rather it is structured around 'on'. I don't understand the linguistic details, but I do know that it is better to follow the intent of Haiku than the literal translation of the Japanese rules.

The above Haiku is an attempt to juxtapose two images from nature, revealing something about the environment that surrounds me.