Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Another day, another poem

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Another day, another poem

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I’m blogging more frequently this week to let you know about a new book of poetry prompts, “Unlocking the Poem,” by my teacher, Ottone (Ricky) Riccio and Ellen Beth Siegel.

Today’s prompt comes from Ricky’s web site, where it is the assignment for the month of November: a rondeau about ocean waves crashing against the shore.

Here, from Ricky’s first book, “The Intimate Art of Writing Poetry,” is a little about the rondeau to get you started. “the rondeau evolved gradually from the older rondel and consists of 13 full lines of four beats each, arrange in three stanzas of five, three, and five lines. Only two rhyme sounds are permitted. At the end of the second and third stanzas there is a tail--a half line taken from the first half of the first line. It’s a non-rhyming tail and is frequently turned as a pun. Using R as the symbol for the tail, the rhyme pattern is aabba aabR aabbaR.”

It’s easier if you see an example, like this famous World War I-era poem by John McCrae
In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Now go try one of your own.

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Blogger Ellen Beth Siegel, co-author, Unlocking the Poem said...

Hi Ellen--

I'm so glad you are writing about poetry assignments--and about Unlocking the Poem, the book of assignments Ricky Riccio and I just published, containing so many of his wonderfully evocative assignments. The assignments are intended to serve as stimuli, to unlock the unconscious and thereby help each individual find his or her own unique poems.

Your assignment about writing a rondeau reminded me of another rondeau assignment included in Unlocking the Poem, and of the poem I wrote (not included in the book, but available on our website,, an assignment to write a rondeau on the origins of the word "tuxedo." Before I met Ricky, it never occurred to me that writing poetry might involve research!--but amazingly, poems come from research too, and sometimes very good ones. We have one I really like, from Carol Siemering, in the book . . . I hope some of your readers will also check out mine, at our website.

Ellen Beth Siegel, co-author, Unlocking the Poem

November 19, 2009 at 8:14 AM  

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