Sunday, 6 March 2011

Back on my horse with the aid of Paul Muldoon

Well, after the doubts of the week and the doldrums that followed, I'm going to get on with the beep beep poetry for the Open University assignment. (This is quite likely headed out for critique, sorry Carole.) Then I'm going to start a week of planning for Borrowed Time. We were handed a version of Christopher Vogler's Mythic Structure. I started glancing down it and I immediately realised how much of my novel fitted into it. So I thought I could use that as a starting point to replot my novel, starting further back in time to explain how Sadie came to be in the position she was in. I thought if I could plot Borrowed Time then I could start plotting an alternative novel if needed for the dissertation. I realised how little time I spend thinking and how quick I am to sit down and write.

For the poetry TMA I am working on an unrhymed (well, a slant rhymed anyway) sonnet. It's hard to know whether by removing the rhyme you make it not a sonnet. The Big Blue Book suggests you have to give it more of something else if you're going to lose the rhyme. So, the volta as line eight, maybe a basic iambic pentameter structure even if it gets played about with a bit. I'm relying on Paul Muldoon's Quoof for how far I can stretch the form. It doesn't stick to the iambic pentameter, it doesn't formally rhyme but the slant rhymes are there and the volta definitely. Breaking it at line 8 into a slightly differently focused sestet works too.

In The Old Country Muldoon wrote Horse Latitudes, changing the beat at line 4, 8 and 11 to form a different shape, 4, 4, 3, 3:

Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon 
Every resort was a last resort
with a harbor that harbored an old grudge.
Every sale was a selling short.
there were those who simply wouldn't budge

from the Dandy to the Rover.
That shouting was the shouting
but for which it was all over -
the weekend, I mean, we set off for an outing 
The rhyming is there but less obvious in the last six lines:
with the weekday train timetable.
Every tower was a tower of Babel
that graced each corner of a bawn

Where every lookout was a poor lookout.
Every rill had its unflashy trout.
Every runnel was a Rubicon.
I'm working on the notes I got from the session with Myra Schneider. Like Elizabeth Bishop said of structured poetry forms, 'They seem to start the machinery going'.


  1. Interesting you start from a sample and a structure to generate thoughts. I specifically want to write something this week (to present to & receive comments from a group)and have thought of a subject to write around (year 1588)prompted by reading about Armada warning pole-beacon house in Devon, which I've now visited.... not subject that would have been top of my list... but any skills I have should be applicable to nearly any subject, I feel.
    Best with yours.

  2. Nice idea about Sadie, that sounds a good plan. Hope the poety is going well. Love the Muldoon. Bear x

  3. Hi Tony, I normally start with a freewrite or just jot down some lines, see where they go. But my assignment is very specific, it has to be sestinas, pantoums, sonnets or villanelles. But looking at other people's gives me ideas. Good luck with your Armada beacon house poem!

  4. Reading this makes me realize I don't do enought planning either - something to work on. Hope to catch up soon.