Zeno

I’m on a JPat roll at the moment, happy to share news of another contribution of J. Patrick Lewis. He has invented a new poetic form, the zeno! Tricia scooped the news at The Miss Rumphius Effect earlier this week, but I think it bears repeating. I know teachers enjoy introducing the form of poetry to kids, as they model for children the different ways a poem can look and sound. And kids often enjoy this aspect of poetry too—approaching it as a puzzle to solve and understand. And I know poets themselves approach the form and structure of poetry with great intentionality and I’m always curious about why a certain choice is made. Well… drum roll… you can see Pat’s past as a professor of economics in the roots of his new poem form, the zeno. He describes it so: 

“I’ve never invented a new verse form… until now… It was inspired by the mathematical “hailstone sequence,” simply explained here…. I call the form a “zeno,” so named for Zeno, the philosopher of paradoxes,especially the dichotomy paradox, according to which getting anywhere involves first getting half way there and then again halfway there, and so on ad infinitum. I’m dividing each line in half of the previous one. Here’s my definition of a zeno: A 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd. Naturally, I don’t expect it to displace the sestina, villanelle, triolet, et al. But it would be grand if they all moved over one seat and made room for it.”

Here are a few examples to illustrate the form:

Nature’s Art Gallery 
By J. Patrick Lewis 

Wind’s paintbrush strokes in streaks the trees,
a miracle,
ages
old,
it knows without
being
told—
Novembering
maples
gold.

Traveling by Armchair
By J. Patrick Lewis

You can take a trip by Greyhound,
motorcycle,
paddle-
wheel,
ocean liner
(package
deal)—
I prefer a
bookmo-
bile.

Pasted from http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2009/10/birth-of-zeno.html
Thanks to POETRYFORCHILDREN.BLOGSPOT for bring this to my attention.

Specifications restated:
Zeno is named after a pre-Socratic philosopher of paradoxes.

Zeno is:
a poem of 1o lines invented by J. Patrick Lewis,
syllabic: 8/4/2/1/4/2/1/4/2/1
Rhyme scheme: abcdefdghd

.

 

My example

Any Chore (Zeno)

The first half is the biggest chunk
of any job
you do.
You
can prevail if
you know
that
you’re already
half-way
through.

© Lawrencealot – November 1, 2014

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