16 August 2012

Higgledy Piggledies

There is a fun form I've been composing with semi-frequently lately: the double dactyl. I wrote several while I was on vacation recently and truly only began to relax once I had begun writing them Light verse lovers might recognize it as the "Higgledy Piggledy" lyric. An example:

Higgledy Piggledy
Joseph DiMaggio,
Jolted the ball but was
Jilted in bed.
Marilyn walked, but he
Laid her in rose bouquets
When she was dead.
-Gene Weingarten
The first line must be "Higgledy Piggledy" and the second line must be a name of who the poem is about. The last line of each stanza breaks the double dactyl rhythm (STRESS-unstress-unstress, STRESS-unstress-unstress) with a trochee (STRESS-unstress) and an iamb (unstress-STRESS). The second line of the second stanza has to be a made up 6 syllable word that also fits the rhythm of the double dactyl. All other lines are written in double dactyls.

The thing about forms is that they help provide a framework for a poem when you're not sure what to write. Writer's block shouldn't be a problem for a writer as long as they have a few minutes to play with a form. Writer's block is not about a lack of ideas, it's about too much pressure on having a good idea.

The form frees you from that pressure by saying, "Fuck a good idea, just find an idea that fits this."

My experience with formal poetry has taken me down some pretty interesting twists and turns in the path to a poem and it is rarely ever a wate of time.

It's fun and when you have fun, you let your guard down, you release those pressures and you can breathe free.

 As a writer, that breathing free is so important. In that free breath of air, you can hear the rhythms of all past language, the iambs and trochees and dactyls that so many other writers before you breathed. And in breathing with them, you put yourself in sync with them, like two lovers, one holding the other's ear to their breast to let the heartbeat in one calm the other until you're breathing in sync, two hearts beating in sync. And in sync and in harmony is a really peaceful place to be for a poet.

Being a writer of light verse won't ever win a Pulitzer Prize, but it may be a way to stay in a vacation state of mind. Which during extremely difficult times is a better place to keep your mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment