The Poetry Sisters are at it again. This time, we've been challenged to a Rondeau Redoublé. Poet and professor Kelly Fineman, as usual, has a brilliant explanation of this form, including some very funny reasons why we poets title these crazy attempts simply "Rondeau Redoublé" instead of some other more poetic moniker. (Hint: ego is involved.)
Speaking of ego, I'm setting mine aside, next to my sanity --- which I also abandoned when I agreed to twist my britches into this revolving door of a form. Because, I admit, even after I wrote a Rondeau Redoublé, I still don't completely understand it.
I have respect for this form, though. And newfound wisdom. (Please see Sara's How to Not Choke at the Rondeau Redoublé at the end of this post for my tips.)
Paper becomes a swan thus:
creased, folded, feathers pleated,
neck extended, not like us,
in minutes near completed
or lines smudged, cross-hatched, deleted,
pen carves arch of whiteness minus
all not swan; hours lost, repeated;
paper becomes a swan---thus
night's ravines, spit with starry dust
are charted; constellations sail full-sheeted,
inky swan or leggy cross of Crane (Grus):
creased, folded, feathers pleated
as pages pop from children's tales, morals meted;
exclamation point of swan unfolds---ha!---from amorphous
Ugly Duckling---pudge of feathers, rudely treated,
neck extended; not like us
who caught in thorny thatch, anonymous,
our parchment paper hearts, chambers overheated,
burst; bloom briefly---Narcissus poeticus,
in minutes near completed.
Rather curl, from blazing light secreted
in darkness, pinch, preen, fuss
'til all of creased and folded poet is conceded;
naught but neck of poem emerges---hush!
---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)
Liz will have a roundup of all the Poetry Sisters' rondeaux here. Or you can follow these links, which I pinched from Kelly Fineman:
Laura Purdie Salas
Liz Garton Scanlon
Tricia Stohr-Hunt (not able to join us today, but Tanita wrote a gorgeous poem inspired by her strength)
Sara's How to Not Choke at the Rondeau Redoublé
1. Repeatedly google the name of this form to make sure you spell it correctly. (Be sure to learn how to make the French vowel at the end read "é" instead of plain "e." Don't worry---once you've done this, you can simply copy and paste the é every étouffé-ing time you need it.)
2. Rev your engines with some history and examples. Will you write with or against tradition? Forward Press calls it "a form for expressing devotion to secular objects such as springtime, love and romance ... It has been reported that only the English, who adopted the rondeau at the end of the 18th century, truly attempt serious verse with this form." Hmm. I usually like to buck the system with some humor. This time, serious was bucking it.
3. Resolve how the form (crazy as it is) will support your theme. (We all chose some form of the theme "new beginnings.") A rondeau goes round and round, just as years and other cyclical things do. Brilliant match-up, Liz! (our resident theme chooser)
4. Rhyme, then Write. Or Write, then Rhyme. By this I mean: you can come up with a malleable list of words that will stand you in good stead for six stanzas (recommended), or you can join me in the foolish habit of writing the first thing that comes into your head and then tracking down rhymes for it. For example, I wrote (thinking of origami)
"Paper becomes a swan thus
Creased, folded, feathers pleated
In minutes completed."
Then I went to Rhyme Zone to see where my game of Russian Roulette with end rhymes had landed me. Here is a mashup of my notes from that ongoing experience:
Thus: "us" words, Sus (pigs) and Grus (crane, a constellation)
more "us" words---"amorphus" (fetus) which let to amorphous. Theme of shape. Making something from nothing. Or a complicated thing from a square. A poem has "squared edges" in this form.
Charlotte Russe: ladyfingers! Gloomy Gus. (Ha, ha, ha!) or Anthony Banderas (now I'm out in left field)
The point is words, like poetic forms have histories, too, and connections. Have fun. See where the words lead you.
5) Refuse to quit.
6) Refer to number 5.
7) Really, I mean it. See number 5 (and 6.)
8) Radiate with maniacal happiness when by magic or mayhem, you have six stanzas. Then force yourself to analyze them. How will each advance the theme? Be organized? It's easy with the Rondeau Redoublé to be so happy that your rhymes work that you forget the poem must build to a story or conclusion. There must be a reason for the constant "re-turning" in this form.
9) Retreat from stanza level editing down to individual word choices: prune out the line-wasters. Look for specific places to use vivid words. Re-write and re-write.
10) Revise the line flow, down to the punctuation. Seriously. Seriously... Seriously! In this poem, I wanted the lines to flow from stanza to stanza, often using the last word of a stanza as the first word of the next to give an impatient feel to the poem until the last hushed moment.
11) Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Poetry Friday is hosted today at Teaching Books.