Poetic Forms: Phrase Manipulation
Welcome to week five of poetic forms, where every week I introduce a different type of poem and invite you to give it a go! As an added incentive to take part, the best poem every week is featured on the Writing Gooder blog on Sunday afternoon, alongside a brief analysis by myself.
To enter a poem, make sure it’s written in this week’s style and then either post a link to it in a comment below, or post the full text of the poem.
This week we’re stretching the definition of ‘form’ as we take a look at an experimental writing exercise. It’s called phrase manipulation and the poet may choose to manipulate a line or a stanza in its entirety. When manipulating a stanza, the aim is to use the same words in every verse of the poem, but re-ordered to give a different meaning. When manipulating a line, the form is less strict and sometimes the poet will break down the line, losing a word each time and then building back to the original once more. Here are two examples to illustrate each type of phrase manipulation:
Example One: Myron Lysenko makes the form look effortless with his beautiful poem.
Under The Tree
Myron Lysenko (1952-present)
under the big tree
and talked slowly
Under the tree
and slowly talked big
The big tree
and under they talked
They stood big
and slowly talked
the tree under
The big tree talked
and they slowly
Example Two: Presley and James set out their letter bank in the form of a two line sentence at the start of the poem and every line afterward uses those letters and no more.
‘Neither the One nor the Other’
Frances Presley and Elizabeth James
We need to approach the pastoral with care and remember that it’s not a
we need to approach
we need to approach the past
to approach the past we need we need
to approach the pastoral
we need to approach the pastoral in a car
o approach the pastoral with care
we need to poach the pastor
to cart toward aporia
approach the water and pare the weed to the core
to catch a parsnip
and remember that it’s not
and remember that it’s not a convent
and remember that it’s a con
ut poesia pastoralis
I will only add that I have tried this myself and the experts make it look far easier than it is! However it’s a lot of fun and produces some excellent poetry.
Good Luck Everyone!
** Image owned by Enokson at Flickr.