Category Archives: poetics

In the Shape of a Hammock: Lyric, Flash, and Poetic Design

Elderflower Wave

  • Poetry occurs in both prose and verse. As does story, though nowadays the dominant fashion is for stories in prose, lyrics (expressing personal or private feelings) in verse. Flash fiction, though, is often both lyric and narrative.
      Here, for example, is a flash micro attributed (dubiously) to Hemingway:

      For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

      There’s no doubt this is a story. But its brevity makes it immediate for me. It cuts straight to the heart, which is a lyric effect.

      A hypothesis: brevity makes flash fiction live in the tension between story and lyric. I’d suggest that the longer the flash (or any other piece of literature), the more it inclines towards story. The shorter it is, the stronger the lyric element.

Why not test this against your own examples? Continue reading

In the Poem, Music Makes Meaning


The Herbertian Way

9781447231042Cousin Coat_4

How is meaning of a poem heightened by its music? In Bill Herbert’s manual, Writing Poetry, there’s an interview with Sean O’Brien about the composition of O’Brien’s poem, ‘Cousin Coat‘.  We learn from this that early drafts were written not in the rhymed iambic pentameters readers know, but in free verse. Why the change? Continue reading

How to Write a Glosa

Ever imagine that a medieval Spanish poetic form could help you get to grips with poems you admire? I’m exploring the use of the glosa, a courtly form that steals a quatrain from another poet’s work to structure a poem of your own, in the course of which you create a glosa – or gloss on that poet’s work. Tangling with with your chosen poet may allow her or his subtle influence to inform your tone and expand your expressive range. Continue reading