Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Villanelle is Swell!

It’s pretty easy to write an article about villanelles. I’ve got that covered. Writing a villanelle, on the other hand, is something totally different. I hadn’t tried villanelles in over a year, so this was good practice. And I got to remember why I like form so much.

When writing this, I knew I wanted to break the form a bit. So, my refrains are a bit malleable. I wanted to retain some of the main words, but have them echo throughout the poem, rather than repeat word for word. Also, I pushed the form a bit with my rhymes. Some of them are slant/off. The rule I was most stringent about was the iambic pentameter, until I got to the final stanza.

A good warm up for writing this was the fact that I taught both “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and “One Art” in my Literature class on Tuesday. It helped me get the feeling of the form that day, for when I wrote this.

Model, Captured for Hours, Whispers

Contort your body. Careful to comply,
I twist my torso, hollow out my chest,
then gaze at my reflection, in reply.

I cannot see my surface, how it shines
so bright that you can see yourself expressed
in my contorted back, but I comply.

I feel as if I’m made of smoke and light,
strategically placed mirrors; nothing’s left
just gazed upon reflections, mute replies.

But in the scrim of images, stretched tight
across my skin, I see ourselves, a mess:
distorted limbs, regrets. We all comply

to orders easily. We push, deny
ourselves of everything. This is our test.
We reproduce reflections, in reply.

We are stripped bare, compressed down to a size
where there is nothing wasted, nothing left.
Contort your body, silently comply
to the refracted image – wait for the reply.


desert rat said...

I really like this. It's cool to read one by an "experienced" villanelle writer as it were. I've noticed that the poets who are more familiar with the form and its potential tend towards more variation with the refrains. I also like how you can carry a phrase over into another line. This will give me something to aim for next time I try one of these.

gautami tripathy said...

I agree with desert rat. More experienced writers sklightly alter the refrains to give it a new meaning. Next one I write, I will do the same. I mean try to do the same.

Thanks for inspiring this prompt.

Beaman said...

I like this piece very much. Your structure and slight altering has surely only improved this piece. Interesting article too on PT. Thank you.

Tammy said...

I had to stop by as a newbie poet and thank you for inspiring the prompt. I loved what you did with yours, it was very cool.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Wow- it's amazing really- the villanelle is not just this stiff poetic form but something to be taken advantage of for all it's structure! What an excellent poem and I also loved how you would take one sentence in to the next stanza...
Just wow...

Marie said...

Now, I can see what a little time and practice can bring. I did enjoy how you scaled gave great movement and images throughout. Thank you for your tips...I took your advice and I came up with an adequate poem. I did notice that structure does assist me a great deal...thanks for prompting this!

...deb said...

I particularly like that this has a modern topic and vocabulary. Shows just how alive the form can be. (I do like others take on it as well.) Thanks for the article and for seeding the prompt.

Clockworkchris said...

I loved the way you changed the form. It was nice to read one where someone didn't chance throwing away the poetry of it to follow some stupid rules. The life of a model is so different than anything I have seen before and very enjoyable to read about. Thanks for your visit. I am getting on top of my page now and fixing it up.