The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, Including Odd and Invented Forms, Revised and Expanded Edition by Lewis Putnam Turco, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England (www.UPNE.com) , 2012 • 384 pp. 3 illus. 5 x 7 1/2" Reference & Bibliography / Poetry 978-1-61168-035-5, paperback.
The mote (motto, device, posie) is a one-sentence poem written in two lines. Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro” is a mote; it is printed here as it originally appeared in 1913 in Poetry, complete with examples of sight pause — that is, spatial caesuras:
IN A STATION OF THE METRO
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The subject of the sentence is "apparition," and the verb "is" is understood at the point of the semicolon or, if one wishes, one can imagine an equals sign at that point:
"The apparition of these faces in the crowd = petals on a wet, black bough."
LINES TO BE ETCHED ON A WINDOW
For Donald Justice
Clearly, you may see clear through me,
As though I were not here.
Wesli Court, from
The entire June issue is devoted to two-line poems and photographs from Afghanistan
CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is pleased to announce the publication of the June 2013 issue, “Landays.” The issue is dedicated entirely to poetry composed by and circulated among Afghan women.
After learning the story of a teenage girl who was forbidden to write poems and burned herself in protest, poet and journalist Eliza Griswold and photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy journeyed to Afghanistan to investigate the impact of the girl’s death, as well as the role that poetry plays in the lives of contemporary Pashtuns. A year later, Griswold and Murphy returned to Afghanistan to study the effects of more than a decade of U.S. military involvement on the culture and lives of Afghan women. In the course of this work, Griswold collected a selection of landays, or two-line poems [which are called “motes” in our culture – see The Book of Forms]. These poems are accompanied by Murphy’s stunning photographs from the same period and are presented in the June 2013 issue of Poetry.
Griswold describes the characteristics of a landay in her introduction:
“Twenty-two syllables: nine in the first line, thirteen in the second. The poem ends with the sound “ma” or “na.” Sometimes they rhyme, but more often not. In Pashto, they lilt internally from word to word in a kind of two-line lullaby that belies the sharpness of their content, which is distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love.”
Clarinda Harriss responded:
"Hmmm. My own 22-syllable form, which I term" "vantadu," "Vantydu," or Vantydoo, pretending it is an ancient Malay form imported, like the pantoum, by the French, have little to no social conscience, and do not generally end in "ma," but 22 IS a very workable number of syllables.
Yes, Clarinda, The Japanese thought so too when then invented the katauta, the tanka, the senryu, and the haiku.
Here are our two “vantydoos” presented as a duet:
Recent Xrays Reveal
Richard Third, my kith and kin,
our twisted spines serpentine.
How time maligns and misaligns.
Some Embalmy Day
They dug up old Dick the Three;
Maybe they'll dig you and me--
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
But rather thee than me.
DON'T REALLY MEAN THAT, LEW DARLIN'!
Of course you do, Clarinda…we all do.
Suggested writing exercise:
Write some two-line poems.