BlogsThe Times quoted Annie Finch, a poet who teaches at the University of Southern Maine, on the appeal of formal constraints in poetry.
But how about a
Rare, geeky form of poetry?
"Poets are very, very hungry for constraint right now," said Ms. Finch, who has written about formal poetry. "Poets are often poets because they love to play with words and love constraints that allow the self to step out of the picture a little bit. The form gives you something to dance with so it's not just you alone on the page."Of course, there’s more to versification than short six-liners, just as there’s more to poetry than haiku. What if you want to do more? The Times story gave an example of an eight-line fib, but if you follow the Fibonacci sequence out very far, you’ll see that it quickly spirals out of control, at least for syllable-counting poets -- 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181...
For the long haul, you may prefer a sequence that’s more poetically robust -- that is, a sequence that can give you manageable numbers as far out as you could possibly write. For the really heavy poetic lifting, try the decimal expansion of pi -- 3.14159265358979323846264... For the poetically inclined, it evokes even more mathematical, scientific and artistic associations than the Fibonacci sequence. With Fibonacci numbers you can write something approximating a haiku. With pi, you could truly write an epic.
How would you translate pi into a rule for making a poem? On way would be to follow the syllable-count method of the fibs -- that is, give each line the number of syllables of the corresponding digit in the expansion of pi. Here’s my own lame attempt.
Start with three.Another way would be to let each word contain as many letters as the matching digit of pi (this seems to be more widespread). This old mnemonic for the decimal expansion of pi, quoted by J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson at the end of their “History of Pi” is an example. (I’ve taken the liberty of laying it out in the form of a poem.)
just simply let
the decimal expansion of pi.
How I want a drink,One blogger set out last year to get to 100 places in the decimal expansion and apparently made it to 82 before tiring of the game. Have you seen any good “pi poems”? What should they be called -- pips? Have you written one yourself? Leave a note on Comments.
alcoholic of course,
after the heavy lectures
involving quantum mechanics.
All of thy geometry, Herr Planck,
is fairly hard…