As I mentioned the other day, I’ve taken on a challenge to re-create a myth in poetic form. This in honour of the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, itself an homage to Homer’s Iliad in which the Odyssey is recounted.
My chosen myth over the past weeks has been the Inuit tale of the Spirit of the Sea, the great and wise Nuliajuk (New-Lee-Aye’-yook), which I have already rendered in prose form. So I thought I would try to recast the myth, and its dreadful portent, in poetic form. But which format should I use? There are at least 168 poetic forms extant, suggested in such places as the WritersDigest.com.
For whatever wonderful reason, I wondered if I could compose a poem with a regular, irregular meter. That is, I thought I would start with six feet, or iambs, per line, and progressively decrease throughout the stanza to a single foot. And then, for the next stanza, I would raise the ante (or the foot number), progressively back up through the six lines.
It was something of a delight to see that this sort of format fell out visually rather naturally as waves on the sea-side. So, a kind of serendipitous concrete poem which reflected the pervasive theme of my effort in myth interpretation. Anyway, I was about to discard my attempt, after I’d finished it, as encompassingly naff, trite and well, jejeune. No doubt it is, but still.
After all, Joyce himself loved experimenting with form and words. What better homage might I aspire to than to value my own experimentation in. form?
So my poetic effort has gone through another revision, and the waves do go up and down throughout the nine stanza piece. At six lines per stanza, the poem is well within the maximum 60 lines permitted at the SaveAsWriters ‘myth’ themed competition. And there’s meaning, I think, great sadness reflecting the myth upon which the poem is based.
I’ve searched and searched through stacks of poetic forms, and I can’t find anything that resembles my invention. Perhaps the closest is the so-called Nonce form, which is basically any idiosyncratic rule applied by an individual poet. Well.
Without, as they say, a snowflake’s chance in hell of winning in an erudite competition, nevertheless I’m delighted with my invention, with the found concrete format that conveniently appeared, and with the challenging exercise I’d set myself to make the meter rise and fall, throughout the piece. I hope I’ve avoided doggerel too.
I don’t quite know what name such a format might take, though. I’ll have to think about that, but in the meantime, where’s that entry form?
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