"I've never invented a new verse form... until now… It was inspired by the mathematical "hailstone sequence," simply explained here…. I call the form a "zeno," so named for Zeno, the philosopher of paradoxes, especially the dichotomy paradox, according to which getting anywhere involves first getting half way there and then again halfway there, and so on ad infinitum. I'm dividing each line in half of the previous one. Here's my definition of a zeno: A 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd. Naturally, I don't expect it to displace the sestina, villanelle, triolet, et al. But it would be grand if they all moved over one seat and made room for it.”
Here are a few examples to illustrate the form:
Nature’s Art Gallery
By J. Patrick Lewis
Wind’s paintbrush strokes in streaks the trees,
it knows without
Traveling by Armchair
By J. Patrick Lewis
You can take a trip by Greyhound,
I prefer a
I think kids will love it—the math of it and the brevity. I know they enjoy list poems and this form suggests a list, but requires a bit more thought and planning. I hope they’ll give it a go. In the mean time, for teachers (and kids) who are looking for other poets who specialize in experimentation with form, look for the work of Paul Janeczko (Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers and A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms) and Avis Harley (Fly with Poetry; An ABC of Poetry and Leap into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry), among others.
And if you're interested in more poetry creation activities, check out poet David Harrison's blog. He is hosting a poetry writing contest each month based on a single word ("dirt" for October) with a chance to vote for your favorite-- and help select Hall of Fame winners, one per month. Next up, David will be posting the word for November on Monday.
Finally, it’s not too late to join the Poetry Friday round up hosted by Jennie at Biblio File.
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.
Image credit: research.haifa.ac.il; zenoroth.com