By Heart: ‘Choices’ by Tess Gallagher

Published April 30, 2021

50 States of Generosity: Washington

Published April 16, 2021

https://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2021/04/16/50-states-of-generosity-washington/

Children’s Book Club: ‘Dry’ by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Published April 9, 2021

Reading Generously: ‘How to Read a Form Poem’

Published April 2, 2021

By Heart: ‘One Art’ by Elizabeth Bishop

Published March 26, 2021

50 States of Generosity: Wyoming

Published March 19, 2021

Children’s Book Club: nursery rhymes remix

Published March 12, 2021

National Poetry Month’s Tour de Tania (Runyan), pt. 5

Tania Runyan’s book How to Write a Form Poem saves haiku till last. I suspect she does that because haiku is among the simplest and most complicated of poetic forms. She writes: “Haiku are not a mode of travel, roadside attraction, or even a depiction of such. They are the vibrant spaces between.”

Tania also encourages us to “cultivate the daily practice of reading or writing haiku.” I cannot second this recommendation heartily enough. Even when your haiku doesn’t reach the ideal. Write one anyway. It’s a practice I’ve been following since May 11, 2017, almost four years ago.

I write my daily haiku in my One Line a Day: A Five Year Memory Book, along with a note about what tea I’m drinking. Writing my daily haiku is foundational to who I am. Many, if not most of my haiku do not reach purist standards. I don’t care. They are for me, to record what I want to keep from each day. Like this one from The Joy of Poetry.

Winter Sunrise

orange and pink rises
above our snowy cabin
brighter than cancer

– Megan Willome

I’m spending National Poetry Month celebrating Tania’s new book and my old one. To learn how to write a haiku, what Tania’s haiku journey has entailed, and whether your really need to count 5-7-5 syllables, pick up a copy of How to Write a Form Poem.

Reading Generously: Black stories

Published March 5, 2021

National Poetry Month’s Tour de Tania (Runyan), pt. 4

In The Joy of Poetry, I write that as soon as I saw a clump of red poppies at mile 37 of 42 on the Red Poppy (bike) Ride, I knew I had to write a poem about them. But “Each attempt to write the experience failed, until I attempted to follow the form.” Why chose the rondeau form? Because there is a famous rondeau about the red poppies of World War I: “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. I decided to imitate the best.

In How to Write a Form Poem, Tania Runyan includes McCrae’s poem and mine as well (in the More Stops: Examples and Prompts to Inspire Your Journey section at the end).

At Mile 37

At mile 37 red poppies do abide
near fields of what we think will soon be corn,
past horses pale, their hearts held close inside
thin skin. Today is not a day to mourn
though if I say I am not sad I lied.

You’re gone. We rose and took it in our stride.
We pedaled hard and spied white poppies worn
from drought. Until we reached a red clump wide.
At mile 37.

Only then the red blooms promised for our ride,
sought at every pickup truck’s loud horn
that blared at us for forty-two May miles,
to the right, beneath a black mailbox beside
the road we found red poppies newly born.
At mile 37.

– Megan Willome

In chapter 7 Tania writes, “even without a melody, the rondeau sings.” That’s what the form is supposed to do, to sing. She then talks about her own journey with the rondeau, specifically, about one she wrote in college that her professor criticized. She later learned that a classmate “never forgot the poem’s refrain, and even today, more than a quarter century later, quotes it to me.” That’s the power of this song-like form.

We’re spending National Poetry Month celebrating Tania’s new book and my old one. To learn how to write a rondeau, what Tania’s rondeau journey has entailed, and what is the Scrabble-worthy plural form of rondeau, pick up a copy of How to Write a Form Poem.