Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, by Colleen Chesebro is an insightful and helpful instructional book for those who wish to learn more about writing syllabic poetry and prose. The first section covers Japenese syllabic poetry forms and American syllabic poetry forms are covered in section two. The author outlines the rules and inspirations for each form, and provides plenty of examples to help you get the idea.
Hiaku has been one of my favorite forms of poetry to read since it was introduced to me in the fourth grade. However, my fourth grade teacher didn’t really explain this poetry form in a way that my fourth grade mind could really grasp, so I’ve never felt very accomplished in writing Haiku. In Word Craft, Colleen Chesebro was able to explain the art of this form of poetry in a manner which my aged mind was able to grasp, giving me a much better handle on what I’m trying to do with this form of poetry. Haiku is much more than just putting the right number of syllables in each line. Haiku is written to evoke images and emotion in a succinct way. I was surprised to learn that the syllabic rules for Haiku are not set in stone, and can be varied. Below is a Haiku which I wrote after reading the chapters on this poetry form.
Spring skies let rain pour
Wings stretch, ruffling wet feathers
small Hummingbird preens
While I know poets who write Tanka poetry, which combines poetry and prose,I’ve never understood what they were doing with these poems. Although I can’t say that I’ve mastered the Tanka, I think I do understand it better, but I will need a lot of practice before I write something in Tanka or Tanka prose poem that I feel worthy of sharing.
I also had some experience in writing Hiabun, which is a combination of poetry and prose similar to Tanka Prose Poetry, but I never really understood the purpose of this form of poetry. You would think this would be the easiest form of poetry in this book for me to write, as the inspiration can come from anything and it can be in any point-of-view and any tense that you wish to write in, but I still have a hard time grasping the how of this poetry form. Fortunately, Colleen Chesebro includes many examples of each poetry style and I have no doubt that, with patience and practice I will eventually get a handle on the Haibun.
Forms of Japanese poetry that I wasn’t familiar with in this book include Senryu, which is similar in form to a Hiaku but differs in subject matter; Haiga, which uses either Haiku or Senryu and combines three art forms, imagry, poetry and calligraphy; and Gogyohka, which is based on the Tanka, but you do not count syllables, with one phrase to a line and a line-break after each breath. I found the Renga, which is design to be written by two poets, interactively, , kind of like a poetic conversation, to be in intriguing poetry form.
This is my first attempt at a Senryu poem.
Hot tea steams
on chill summer morn
wake up call
For me, the forms of American syllabic poetry were more difficult, perhaps because they tend to be longer. In the second portion of the book, Sally Cronin includes explanation and instruction and examples for Cinquains of all types, Etherees, Nonets, and Shadormas. I made several unsuccessful attempts at the basic types of each of these poetry forms, but they are much harder than they look. My hat is off to Cronin and anyone else that can meld their syllables with seeming ease.
I took a challenge on Teagan Riordain Genevieve’s blog and for that I wrote a Shadorma poem, which I published here, on Writing to be Read. You can see my example of a Shadorma here, but I don’t know if it is any good. It really was harder than I thought it would be.
If you like syllabic poetry, either Japanese or American, and would like to try your hand at it, I highly recommend the instruction of Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, by Sally Cronin. This book introduced me to new forms, as well as delving deeper into forms I was familiar with. I give it five quills.
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Today is the start of a new poetry appreciation series here on Writing to be Read where I will be introducing you to a number of wonderful poets in our blogging community, discussing well known poets and their poetry and reviewing poetry books. I hope you will participate in the discussions and enjoy meeting and greeting the poets, both new and known to you, and discovering new books of poetry.
My first guest is accomplished poet and writer, Sally Cronin, of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine blog. Sally has recently published a new book of poetry, 99-word flash fiction and short stories called, Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words which I have reviewed below. Before we get there, however, Sally is going to share her thoughts about her favourite poem, The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling.
Over to Sally
What is your favourite poem?
That is an extremely tough question and had me stumped for a couple of days as I wanted to revisit the poems that I have loved since childhood to make sure that this really would qualify as my favourite poem.
The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling
(From The Jungle Book)
Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.
The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter — go forth and get food of thine own.
Keep peace with Lords of the Jungle — the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken — it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.
If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away.
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.
The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.
The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.
Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.
Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.
Cave-Right is the right of the Father — to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.
Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law.
Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!
Robbie: This is a wonderful choice of poem, Sally. I also love it. Interestingly enough my favourite poem is also by Rudyard Kipling and I will share it later in this series.
What is your interpretation of this poem?
This is about living in harmony within a society whether it is a wolf pack or amongst a human pack. Having social etiquette and respect for others is essential if all are to avoid conflicts, get enough to eat, be accepted and to thrive. There is a natural order to things and if you learn that when you are young, when you leave your pack you are well equipped to survive on your own with the skills to begin your own pack. And whilst is sounds draconian, those rules are there to protect the young as well as teach them manners. It applies to both wolf cubs and man cubs….
Robbie: A wonderful interpretation of this poem and of life in general. I have similar thoughts on how societies can best achieve success and one of my favourite key words in this regard is the need for discipline.
What emotions does the poem invoke in you?
When I first read the Jungle Book I was too young to really appreciate the undertones in the story about life, survival and the human and animal parallels. But I loved the book and this poem was rich in both words and intent, and when I was ten or eleven and read for the second time, I could see how this philosophy of life in the pack, related to life in a family. It made me feel secure to think of my father as the Head Wolf, and it also made me very protective of my other family members including my younger brother, who probably did not appreciate all the attention I lavished on him as I would like to believe! It also brings back memories of our time with Sam [Robbie: Sam is a lovely dog who was part of Sally and David’s family for many years before he passed. He has his own book called Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story] as our own small pack and how interestingly he adopted his own social rules of etiquette that run parallel to those in the poem. For example he considered us his alpha male and female and he would not start his own dinner until we were eating our own. He was very protective of any young family members who visited and also the elderly, sticking close to them. If he spotted something that he considered might be dangerous to us, he would always put himself between us and the threat. Whenever I saw him exhibiting these kinds of behaviour it always bought this poem back to me and made me so proud.
Robbie: Isn’t it wonderful the powerful emotions and associations a poem can invoke in a reader. Sam was a wonderful dog. You can read my review of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story here: Goodreads review
If you could choose to write like any well-known poet, who would it be?
That is another tough question Robbie as there are many poets who have stirred my emotions and also my imagination. And whilst I would love to be able to write like Rudyard Kipling both in prose and verse, I am always drawn to the young and sometimes short lived war poets. They conveyed the reality of war, stripping it bare of glory but telling a story in a few short lines. Their legacy is that we never forget those who died, even if we might not always learn the lessons we need to from their passing.
Rupert Brooke for me is one of the finest examples of these poets, and if I could convey the depth of emotion, intent and storytelling in my poetry, I would be very happy indeed. Whilst The Soldier is the most often quoted poem, certainly at military funerals, it is one of his peacetime poems that always resonates with me especially as I get older and celebrate married life.
Kindliness by Rupert Brooke
When love has changed to kindliness —
Oh, love, our hungry lips, that press
So tight that Time’s an old god’s dream
Nodding in heaven, and whisper stuff
Seven million years were not enough
To think on after, make it seem
Less than the breath of children playing,
A blasphemy scarce worth the saying,
A sorry jest, “When love has grown
To kindliness — to kindliness!” . . .
And yet — the best that either’s known
Will change, and wither, and be less,
At last, than comfort, or its own
Remembrance. And when some caress
Tendered in habit (once a flame
All heaven sang out to) wakes the shame
Unworded, in the steady eyes
We’ll have, — THAT day, what shall we do?
Being so noble, kill the two
Who’ve reached their second-best? Being wise,
Break cleanly off, and get away.
Follow down other windier skies
New lures, alone? Or shall we stay,
Since this is all we’ve known, content
In the lean twilight of such day,
And not remember, not lament?
That time when all is over, and
Hand never flinches, brushing hand;
And blood lies quiet, for all you’re near;
And it’s but spoken words we hear,
Where trumpets sang; when the mere skies
Are stranger and nobler than your eyes;
And flesh is flesh, was flame before;
And infinite hungers leap no more
In the chance swaying of your dress;
And love has changed to kindliness.
Robbie: An amazing poem, Sally, thank you for sharing it with us. The war poets certainly know how to highlight the best and worst life has to offer.
Thank you so much for inviting me over today to share my love of poetry and thank you for your wonderful reviews for my work which keep me motivated.
Robbie: Thank you for your contribution to Treasuring Poetry, Sally. Your thoughts and input are greatly appreciated.
Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words by Sally Cronin
What Amazon says
Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.
Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.
This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.
This new book sees author, Sally Cronin, delving into new genres in the form of a variety of styles of poetry and 99-word flash fiction pieces. It also includes a number of her delightful short stories, although those differ from others that I have read by this author as many of them feature an animal as the main character.
The poetry is beautiful and is split into sections, namely, Seasons of the year; All things human; Fairies and other folk; The natural world; Remembrance, Celebrating pets and Random thoughts. The poems included in the sections entitled Season of the year and The natural world largely feature the natural environment, including the various seasons and the different creatures that inhabit it, and makes use of all the senses to wrap the reader in the specific joys and pleasures of the flowers, the light, celebrations, birds and and other natural phenomena including drought, snow and frost.
The poetry sections entitled All things human, Remembrance and Random thoughts as well as some of the flash fiction and short stories utilize the writer’s amazing ability to invoke great emotion from her readers towards her characters and their circumstances and situations, while being easy to relate to and highly believable.
The poems and stories that feature pets and animals showcase the authors love of the animal world and convey the special relationships that frequently develop between people and their pets.
I appreciate the undertone of happiness that is generally present in this authors books and stories. It is a wonderful thing to be able to read a book that makes you feel great emotion and still come out on the other end with the impression that life is a wonderful and great journey. This is definitely a skill that Ms Cronin has and uses to its best advantage in all her books, poems and stories.
Purchase Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words
About Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words
I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.
My blog is https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
And for more information on my books listed here at Amazon please visit
You can connect with Sally Cronin on the following sites.
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