Hey, Barbecutie

Pantoum – A Challenge For My Betters

Posted on: December 7, 2010

I was never good with poetry, because, for all my fine qualities, I lack discipline. I always thought my attempts had their own rag-tag charm, but there’s something about a well-constructed poem that can be dazzling. And I know for a fact that I get five page views a day, so I am setting a challenge to anyone who dares make beautiful words.

A pantoum is a poetic form without set length, subject or rhyme scheme. It is comprised of quatrains. The second and fourth line of each stanza reappear (with some variations) as the first and third line of the next stanza. The first and third lines of the first stanza return as the last and second lines of the final stanza.

For example

Milltown Auspice by Ben Jahn

How to explain his death – with humour
The best jokes start serious:
He fell asleep on the beach with his pockets full of bread
Seagulls carried him away –

The best jokes start serious:
The Governor went north (the mills full of men) God knows
Seagulls carried him away –
It was a thick-fog day, and still

The Governor went north (the mills full of men) God knows
How to explain his death – with humour
It was a thick-fog day, and still
He fell asleep on the beach with his pockets full of bread*

God, it’s dreamy. Send attempts to bronaghfegan[at]hotmail[dot]com and I’ll write you something in return.

*from McSweeney’s 31

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