10 February 2009

Poetry: It's hard!

So, when I was a young, impressionable reader, I read Lord of the Rings. I fell in love with Middle Earth, read all the poems and appendices and even got some of the apocrypha like the Book of Lost Tales. I read it the first time before I was 10.

My first exposure was the Rankin-Bass animation of the Hobbit and Return of the King, which aired on TV in the early 80s at some point (I think I was about 5, so 1981 maybe?) Then I read Narnia, which my friend's parents owned, being good evangelicals. At some point, I got a used 3-volume edition of LOTR, which has since fallen apart. I think I gave it to Kim. (I currently own 2.3 editions: the Ballantine anniversary jewel-tone covers (aka the romance novel covers), the hardback Alan Lee illustrated edition, and a movie tie-in copy of the Two Towers, because the romance novel cover is too goofy, even if it's got the Legolas/Gimli moved right out of subtext.)

But this post isn't supposed to be about me waxing rhapsodic about how I wanted to be Eowyn when I was 12. It's supposed to be about the travails of attempting narrative poetry to stick in the middle of the fantasy with maps.

I haven't written poetry™ since, uh, 11th grade English class (British lit), when we had to write sonnets. (I wonder if I still have mine somewhere. I was inspired by "the world is too much with us" and wrote about teenagers being overly concerned with appearance.) I wrote some crappy emo poetry in college, and published it in the lit zine. Some of it rhymed, maybe, and I doubt any of it had any sort of meter. Free, blank verse FTW.

So here I sit, mumble years later, trying to write a fat narrative poem for my novel. It's much harder than writing, or even editing, prose, and I'm finding that it requires a different brain pattern. When I write prose, I tend to dump it onto the page, then go back and take out nonsense, add in descriptions, and generally fix it up. That doesn't quite seem to work for poetry. I'm sure it's grinding away in the back of my head somewhere, because I got a good line in the shower this morning (just one), and a sort of outline for the first half of the first stanza. I've got an outline for the whole thing, but nothing specific yet.

I've opted to use the chant royal and dactylic trimeter. And I'm going to guess that attempting to write this while at my day job is going to be pretty pointless and futile. I'll need more concentration than I can muster, with the regular interruptions of doing my job.


pleiadeswoman said...

I just tried my hand at dactylic hexameter - you know, the meter of heroes - and fell flat on my face.

Poetry does indeed take a different brain pattern, and it seems to be one that I'm missing at the moment.

CD Covington said...

A classicist friend of mine suggested dactylic hexameter. That sounded way hard (so I opted to split it instead? I'm crazy.) I'm glad I wrote down the 'good' line the other day, because I can't remember it now. :P

Of course, now I'm distracted by the military history novella call. I've never written mil.his, nor read much really, but it looks fun. Political SF with military themes isn't quite the same animal.