My Journey to the Syllabic Poem

This past Friday, sitting on the bed in my grandmother’s spare bedroom, I started to draft a poem about communication between me and my father; the lack thereof. I knew I had a few good ideas, but I couldn’t get the pieces to fit together as if I had the pieces from two similar puzzle boxes combined into one. After a few hours of drafting, and several futile cups of coffee, I stowed the work into my overnight bag and went to sleep.

Today we went over the poem that focuses on syllables. Our homework? Write a poem with a minimum of fourteen lines that has some kind of syllable structure. Dismissing, Marianne Moore’s The Paper Nautilus, I decided to use a set of syllables that I was more familiar with: the tanka. The tank is a type of classical Japanese verse in the waka variety, particularly using the syllables 5, 7, 5, 7, 7.

But should I just keep going back to what I’m familiar with? If not the tanka, what syllabic structure? After having accidentally dropped a plate of assorted fruits upside down, it hits me—what if I turn the tanka upside down? I use my draft from the weekend and things begin to fall into place. I suddenly realize that one of the up-sides to syllabic poems is that it can give you a frame in which to work. I was abruptly able to throw out unnecessary connective tissues and build my anti-tanka. Here is a taste:

Me and dad stand opposite

each other on the brick porch

like two phonographs,

blaring through metallic horns—

all mouth and no ears.

Note that I was unable to get wordpress to allow me to get rid of all the space between the lines of the above which is actually a stanza.


About evinhughes

I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University. I have a bachelors degree in Information Technology and a bachelors in Writing and Linguistics.
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3 Responses to My Journey to the Syllabic Poem

  1. opel gm
    Thanks for your contribution and I will use it for my college research that I am doing for this website.


  2. I just happened to findcome across your sit and this write up My Journey to the Syllabic Poem | evinhughes. The information you give kind of makes me think. Thanks for sharing.


  3. emmabolden says:

    I absolutely love this. Teacher note: if you want to get rid of the spaces, hit shift and enter at the same time. I’m passing on this knowledge because it took me so long to learn it myself!


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