alibi online

Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 
 V.20 No.9 | March 3 - 9, 2011 

Culture Shock

Why Do Haiku? Villanelle Is Swell.

Haiku is fun. The haiku contests at the Alibi are a big hit (look for the 2011 edition in September). It's a chance to show off one's 5-7-5 chops.

I recommend haiku while driving. HWD is a sort of low-tech text message to no one in particular, maybe the paramedics. A favorite topic of mine is always “To the jerk talking on the phone next to me in traffic.” Another is “Dear God, I'll be there in a minute.”

After one is guilty of HWD, however, the thrill of composing short poems in the tradition of Japanese monks may wear thin. Even if you don't generally drive while writing, you might find yourself wanting for a more challenging form.

The villanelle is a poetry style that emerged during the 19th century, in English. I just found out about it, and I’m intrigued. Therefore, it’s the first annual (and probably last) villanelle contest.

It's kind of tricky. A villanelle is 19 lines long. It is comprised of five three-line stanzas followed by a final four-line stanza. The first and third lines of the first stanza must be repeated alternately as the third line of the remaining three-line stanzas and then put together as the last two lines of the poem.

I realized I was punching myself in the head while I wrote that. For clarity, here is a villanelle by Sylvia Plath titled “Mad Girl’s Love Song.”

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary blackness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:

Exit seraphim and Satan's men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

So much for freedom of expression, huh? Oh yeah, the whole thing has to rhyme and you can only have two rhyming sounds. (Ms. Plath played a little fast and loose with the rhyming, but we still love her.) It goes aba / aba / aba / aba / aba / abaa. Don’t worry about meter.

There aren't any categories and no prizes other than knowing—not thinking, but knowing—you are a gangster, at least among the poetry nerds. Send your villanelles to johnb@alibi.com. Entries must be received by March 15 at 5 p.m. Include your name and contact information. If you find the Internet repugnant, send entries to 413 Central NW, Albuquerque, N.M. 87102. The three best poems will be printed in the March 25 issue of the Alibi.

 
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.