Somonka

The following description is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine resource.

The Somonka, is a Japanese verse form that takes the frame of 2 tankas and carries a central theme of love. From that point there are differences of opinion in the scope of the subject and in how many poets are involved. The earliest Somonkas can be found as far back as the Man’yôshû, 1st century AD. They were the exchange of romantic poems between court lovers. Viola Berg’s Pathways For a Poet-1973 refers to the Somonka as the Rengo.

The Somonka can be simply an exchange of romantic love poems. But there are other Somonkas in which the exchange expresses all types of love; love between friends, sisters, parent and child etc. All sources suggest the first tanka should be a statement of love and the second a response to that statement. “Love” has also been broadened to “What does the world need?” by students in LA California who joined with a group of students in Africa’s Kenya. In their project, each student wrote a statement tanka and exchanged it with a student from the other country for response.

Although the Somanka is most commonly found written by 2 poets, there are Somonkas written by a single poet.

The elements of the Somonka are:

  1. a poem in 10 lines, made up of 2 tankas.
  2. syllabic, 5-7-5-7-7 5-7-5-7-7 syllables per line.
  3. composed in the form of statement-response,
  4. often written by 2 poets, one writing the statement the other the response but a single poet can write both parts.
  5. titled.
  6. unrhymed.
  7. built around the theme of love.

Example

The following description and example are reposted with permission from Writer’s Digest, with thanks to Robert Lee Brewer


The somonka is a Japanese form. In fact, it’s basically two tankas written as two love letters to each other (one tanka per love letter). This form usually demands two authors, but it is possible to have a poet take on two personas. 

Here’s an example somonka:

“Sugar,” by Robert Lee Brewer

I’m waiting to die;
I think it will happen soon–
this morning, I saw
two bright hummingbirds battling
over some sugar water.

I know; I was there.
I chased after them for you
until thirst stopped me.
Fetch me some water. I have
a little sugar for you.

Rhopalic Couplet

The folowing description is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The Rhopalic Couplet, (Greek = club like or thicker at the end, also called Wedge Verse, first used by Homer in the Iliad 3.182,) a poetic unit of 2 rhopalic lines, each word progresses adding 1 more syllable than the preceding word in the line. The lines can either be parallel or the order can be reversed in the second line. The lines need not be rhymed.

x xx xxx xxxx
x xx xxx xxxx
or
x xx xxx xxxx
xxxx xxx xx x

My Example

Form: Rhopalic Couplet

Soothsayer (Rhopalic Couplet)

I predict recurring occurrences
by finding cyclical phenomena
that possess meaningful correlations
influencing selected target base.

© Lawrencealot – February 16, 2015

Ovi

The following description and examples are reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

Indian Verse

Ovi is commonly known as 12th century folk-songs of the Maranthi Region of India which expressed love, social irony and heroic events.

Tukaram, a 17th Century Maranthi Poet wrote:

Because I could not lie
I named my dog “God”.
Startled at first,
Soon he was smiling
Then dancing!
Now he won’t even bite.
Do you suppose this might work
On people, too?

The elements of the Ovi are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of 4 line stanzas.
  2. syllabic, 8-8-8-(less than 8 ) syllables
  3. rhymed, with L1, L2, L3 mono-rhymed L4 unrhymed. aaax, x being unrhymed

    Roly Poly by Judi Van Gorder

    The big toothed tot with golden hair
    picked up a bug on Sister’s dare,
    it rolled into a ball right there
    and won her springtime heart.

My Example

Form: Ovi

Trucker’s Life

Poppa longed for the open road
not just because the bank was owed;
always contented when he rode,
he had a land to see.

There is no state that he’d not seen!
East-coast to west, and in between,
there’s nothing like that rolling scene
to make one ‘preciate.

The Pennsylvania rolling hills,
the Gary Indiana mills,
the Alcan Highway winter thrills
all were a joy to see.

He loved Montana’s open sky
and Kansas when the corn was high
the Rockies when the roads are dry,
and then he met my mom.

He needs time with his wife and son
so now his gallivanting’s done
but our vacations sure are fun,
he knows just where to go!

© Lawrencealot – February 15, 2015

Visual template

This one for a stanza with a 6 syllable short line.

Letrilla

The following description is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

Spanish Poetry

The Letrilla is a short strophic form from 16th century Spain that is usually humorous or satirical. The form can sometimes be found in religious verse also. This lyrical verse is written with a theme refrain of any number of lines which usually begins and ends the poem.
 
The Letrilla is:

  • strophic, any number of lines contained in the strophe.

  • syllabic, often written in 6 or 8 syllable lines. Lines should be short and approximate length.
  • composed with a refrain which begins and ends the piece.
  • rhymed, rhyme scheme would depend on the length of the strophe. The theme refrain AA (or however many lines) and the strophe rhyme is often envelope rhyme AA bccb ba AA or AA bcccba AA etc .
Letrilla by Francesco de Quevedo 1580-1645
Poderosos caballero
es don Dinero
Madre, yo al oro me humillo
el es mi amante y mi amado,
pues de puro enamorado,
anda contino amarillo;
que pues doblon o sencillo,
hace todo cuanto quiero
poderoso caballero
es don Dinero.
 
 Letrilla by Francesco de Quevedo
translated by Judi Van Gorder
A powerful horseman
is Mr. Money.
Mother, because of gold I make a fool of myself,
It is my lover and my beloved
because it is purest love.
it walks a golden path.
Whether complicated or simple
It does all that I want
A powerful horseman
is Mr. Money.

My Example

Form: Letrilla

Fresh as a Daisy

I’ve written doggerel a lot.
Purposely? Well, usually not.
While I’m smart as a whip
when I write about June
and I rhyme it with moon
it is sometimes a slip
not a purposeful quip,
just the best that I’ve got.
I’ve written doggerel a lot.
Purposely? Well, usually not.

© Lawrencealot – February 15, 2015

Kouta

The following description and example are reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The Kouta 小唄 (little or short song) is a popular Japanese verse form of the Muromachi Period, 14th thru 16th century.  The lyrical song was resurrected as a Geisha song in the late 1800s and is still popular today. The form has several variations, though always short in only 4 lines a 5th line is sometimes is added.  The theme reflects ordinary life and often uses colloquialisms and onomatopoeia.  The most popular are love songs.  The elements of Kouta are:

  1. a poem in 4 lines. (an occasional 5th line may appear)
  2. a stand alone poem but often is accompanied by other Koutas with the same theme.
  3. syllabic, variable odd numbered syllable lengths, the most common patterns are written in lines of alternating 7-5-7-5 syllables or 7-7-7-5 syllables.
  4. secular, personal, themes of ordinary life
  5. often includes onomatopoeia.

Three small sisters dressed alike
in pink polka dots on white.
Ribbons tie blonde pony tails,
“Smile girls, be polite.”
                                –jvg

My Example

Form: Kouta

[Untitled]

three old men sitting at the bar
grumbling ’bout the things that are
the good thing is they can’t go far
momma has the car

© Lawrencealot – February 13, 2015

Scifaiku

The following descriptiion and example is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The SciFaiku is what the name implies, science fiction haiku an invented verse form introduced by Tom Brinck in 1995. Scifaiku combines science fiction themes with some of the elements of the haiku.

The elements of the Scifaiku are:

  1. minimal, in the moment with human insight.
  2. written with a haiku frame, normally, 17 syllables or less. The poem can be written in the classic 3 lines of 5-7-5 or a variation of line and syllable count. (because of the nature of the subject some technical words could exceed the standard syllable count per line, therefore, as long as minimal amount of words and syllables are used to get the point across, there could be more or less than 17 syllables in the poem.
  3. composed of a single concept or image.
  4. written with “uncluttered and direct words”.
  5. written in the moment.
  6. finding the Ah-ha, light bulb realization through the understanding of the possibilities of science.

    poets dance with words
    cyber ballroom fills with song
    line dancing in space
                       –judi van gorder

My Example

Form: Scifaiku

[untitled]

big bang disputed
universe is infinite
it matters not

© Lawrencealot – February 12, 2015

Tho Bon Chu

The following description and example are reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

Tho Bon Chu or Four Word Verse is written as its name implies, measuring the number of words per line rather than syllables. The elements of the Tho Bon Chu are:

  1. stanzaic, written in a series of couplets.
  2. measured by the number of words in the line, each line has 4 words.
  3. rhymed, tonal rhyme in 1 of 2 distinct patterns and often end-rhymed at the poet’s discretion. w=word Language specific.
    When end-rhymed.           
    w ♭w a#
    w # w a
    or
    w # w a
    When not end-rhymed
    w ♭w #
    w ♭w a#
    w # w ♭
    or
    w # w ♭
    w ♭w #

My Example

Form: Tho Bon Chu

Since I have no notion about the Vietnamese tonal qualities for words, I have anglicized the rules to interpret Sharp tones as end-stressed words and Flat tones, as not.

Hollering

Sounds normal to shout
with children at home.
To shout in office
is not my suggestion.

© Lawrencealot – February 11, 2015

William Kenneth Keller, writing on Allpoetry as Shades of Bill added this comment and poem which do much to explain the concept which I merely relegated to stress. I am including his work as it really helps things make a little more sense.

The idea of tonality in poetry intrigues me! So here is my humble take on this. In English a word’s pitch comes two ways: stress, (rise and fall) and the tonality assigned to vowel sounds. (long or short)

Here is how I would assess your first line:
‘ow’ in ‘sounds’ would define the baseline for line. (This brings up an interesting point: you can have a baseline that changes line to line, or an overall baseline carried throughout the poem; the latter obviously far more difficult than the former.)
‘or’ in ‘normal’ should be flatter than baseline. (It is: the voice drops slightly.)
‘ooh’ in ‘to’ should sound at same pitch as baseline’. (It seems close enough.)
‘ow’ in ‘shout’ should be sharper than baseline. (It is identical. As an example, the ‘ee’ in ‘sleep’ is pitched slightly higher than the ‘ow’ in ‘sounds when voiced.)

So I took a light-hearted stab at it:

She walks too stiff
Like an old lady
Talks like a sailor
Too long at sea
Looks like an angel
And so I stay

Might not be suitable as an example, but it does seem to have that necessary rise and fall to it. I may try to give it another go, but regardless, the idea of pitch and tonality is going in my Batman Utility Belt!

Bill Keller

Caccia

The following description is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource. The example is provided courtesy of Jan Haag.

Caccia in Italian, Catch in English, is a hunting song of the 14th and 15th centuries. It originally included two parts for voices who hunt each other. The lyrics were normally accompanied by a musical instrument.

The elements of the Caccia or Catch are:

  1. known to have been composed with random 11, 7 and 5 syllable lines.
  2. usually carries a refrain at the end of the stanza.
  3. composed favoring onomatopoeia, incomplete phrases and the exclamatory statement.
  4. lyrics framed by stanza and rhyme at the discretion of the poet.

Caccia, by Jan Haag

The only hunting I do
is follow the soul’s
twists through corridors of sorrow and laughter

The wild game is illusive
shyly mocking, chase
cantering, cleaving, crocheting and rocking.

Resting in sleep, rising in
gallop, girding, it
grips, rides my laughter, test my pain, leaps over

river-wide splits in the sea.
Peer down O soul! Peer!
Set me aside in a still water pool, clear

from the maples of autumn
hung from the boughs
glimpsed through surface of still lakes, silent waters.

I will be gone, I will be
the reds and the golds
are but leftovers of greens, greens feed the beasts

Ah, beasts I will leave alone.
They deserve peace more
then the bee buzz of my soul, quiet refrains.

My Example

Form: Caccia

Peaceful Prescription

Uncertain, and unconcerned I set upon
my undaunted daily walk.
Oh, the things I see.
Doves and blue jays and their friends converse with me,
they tweet and twitter, perhaps
just because of me.
How many years I thought I was too busy
to wander willfully. My
doctor says I should.

© Lawrencealot – February 10, 2015

Troisieme

The following description is reposted with permission from Poetry Maqnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The Troisieme is a verse form introduced by Viola Berg. The content is broken into 4 parts, an introduction in the 1st tercet, an expansion in the 2nd tercet, a parallel or contrast in the 3rd tercet and a summary or conclusion in the couplet.The structural elements of the Troisieme are:

  1. stanzaic, written in 3 tercets followed by a couplet.
  2. syllabic, 3-5-7 3-5-7 3-5-7 9-9  syllables each.
  3. unrhymed.

    It’s Finally Here

    Holidays
    have turned the corner,
    the Christmas season begins.

    Ornaments
    boxed with care last year,
    unpacked and hung on the tree.

    Twinkling lights,
    and red bows adorn
    garland strung around the room.

    Candy canes and shaped sugar cookies
    fresh from the oven for you and me.
                                         ~~Judi Van Gorder

My Example

Form: Troisieme

Promised Ascension

Man alone will plot against his kind
because of words one man deemed were true.
They promote a life beyond this realm.

Dismiss all logic! Faith overcomes!
The next life counts promises much more.
Believe those words and your pain dissolves.

That others think those words are fiction
marks them somehow as threats deserving
Your enmity lest you come to doubt.

The plots and counter-plots marred reality
and placed our morality below the wolf.

© Lawrencealot – February 5, 2015

Trianglet

The following description is reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The Trianglet is an invented shape poem found in Berg’s Pathways for the Poet. It forms the shape of a triangle and was created by Mina M Sutherland.  The elements of the trianglet are:

  1. a decastich, a poem in 10 lines.
  2. syllabic, 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1 syllables per line.
  3. rhymed, rhyme scheme AbcxddxcbA
  4. composed with the 1st word repeated as the last word.

My Example

Form: Trianglet

Yummy

Worms
don’t look
delicious
(at least to me),
but they’re protein-filled
and the fish seem thrilled
when presented
nutritious
fish-hook
worms.

© Lawrencealot – February 4, 2015