My First Workshop


I’m trying to put myself out there more, socially as well as creatively.  I am so incredibly terrified of both.  This week, I went to my very first poetry workshop. I was so nervous, and I was dreading it, and I kind of wanted to throw up – but I didn’t – and I did it.  And I’m very happy that I did.  For me, writing has always been such a deeply personal exercise (and sometimes it is more of an exorcise, let’s be honest).  I have never read anything of my own out loud to anyone at all.  It added an extra layer of vulnerability to my already unreasonable level of anxiety, and I thought my heart was going to explode, like the chest-bursting scene from Aliens.  Think I’m joking? I was so worked up the first afternoon that I legitimately gave myself a migraine.  It was 100% worth it.  I made friends, learned a lot, drank coffee, heard some great poems, discovered a passion for ecopoetry that I never knew existed, and came away with material for my poetry that I can actually say I am proud of.

We focused on traditional forms of poetry over two sessions: Villanelle, Shakespearean Sonnets, Sestina, and Ghazal.

The Villanelle

Villanelles have a LOT more structure than I originally thought.  It is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains.  It is constructed using five tercets (three-line stanzas) and a quatrain (four line stanza).  The structure goes: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2.  I took the villanelle I shared in my last post and fixed the structural errors in it:

Valediction of Terra

My forests are ashes, my oceans now dust.
Our eternity will dissolve as the last cairn crumbles.
There can be no romance in concrete and rust.

The theft of my bones long garnered mistrust,
but avarice of Man was once more subtle.
My forests are ashes, my  oceans now dust.

Bleed my body dry, drink it all if you must.
Oil trickles from snarled lips as you greedily guzzle.
There can be no romance in concrete and rust.

Children who squabble ’til atoms combust
have no regard for upon whom they pummel.
My forests are ashes, my oceans now dust.

I yearn for the days spent in soft wanderlust,
before whimsy was choked by bloodshed and stumbled.
There can be no romance in concrete and rust.

All that remains is your gluttony and lust.
There is naught left but ruin and rubble.
My forests are ashes, my oceans now dust.
There can be no romance in concrete and rust.

The Ghazal

I had never heard of a Ghazal before Tuesday.  It’s a form of Persian poetry that takes its name from the Arabic word meaning “the talk of boys and girls,” and is known to be used for flirtation or sweet talk. Loss and love are the most common topics for this style. It is composed of 5-15 couplets, with no enjambment.  Each couplet should be able to also stand on its own.  The interesting thing about the Ghazal is that the same word is repeated at the end of the first couplet, and throughout the poem in the second line of each couplet.  Also, the very last couplet is the only one that should rhyme.  Poets try to include their last names in the last couplet, as a “signature stanza” but I didn’t do that because my last name is pretty much the least poetic or appealing word on the planet.

Ghazal: Love Like a Butterfly

I am hopelessly enamored with the splendor of the butterfly.
Does no one else wish they could dance like a butterfly?

The slow burn of a million magnificent sunsets
paints the wings on the back of a butterfly.

His arm grazes mine and the heat sends a jolt,
an electric current in my heart like the restless fluttering of a butterfly.

Deep and unremitting as a worm-like caterpillar’s appetite,
my love is concealed like the pupa’s sweet butterfly.

One day I will cast off my inhibitions and we will laugh,
drinking nectar with the proboscis of a butterfly.

We will sing in the glimmering starlight
with the twinkling merriment of a butterfly.

I am only 3/4 of the way through my Sestina, and I can’t wait to finish and share it.  But I probably shouldn’t share any of my three sonnets with anyone.  They’re all about Star Wars. I enjoyed writing them, but they’re laugh-out-loud level of cheesy.


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