{pf: the poetry peeps, zentangled}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy – or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We’re talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they’re two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real or imagined, civilized v. savage, winter v. summer, function v. dysfunction. Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

A Recounting of the Trials of Zentangling, Or, Artistic Poetry Wherein I Screwed Up: Okay, so the thing is, I am a CHAMPION doodler. I excel at mindless scribble that we could stretch ourselves and define as patterns. It’s not relaxing so much as… something I do when I’m not paying attention. You’d THINK I would be all over the Zentagle poetry form! Reader, I was not.

The process for a Zentangle poem is really enjoyable. I had a good time paging through catalogs in the mail, electronics manuals, and old grad school texts for likely words from which to craft poetry. I scanned pages which looked promising, and fiddled with them, using the computer to create squares and lines to show the correct flow of the words. I honestly found that part fairly simple, though there often wasn’t just the right word – or in the right form – to create the meaning I wanted, but that was mostly manageable. The poems tended toward the enigmatic – I felt like I was writing Poetry By Yoda, after a bit, but that was fine, too – from the Zentangle I’ve read, they do tend to be short, pithy and …sound more like quotations than poems, to my mind. (And yes: we had the whole What Is A Zentangle Poem, And Is This One Because I Say So” discussion amongst my Poetry Sisters. We decided YES, there are rules, but fewer than you’d think, but your mileage may vary.)

Where it fell apart for me was the artwork. At first, I used a highlighter and the first one I picked up was… horrifying pink. This was a mistake. I tried to fix it with yellow. Also a mistake. ::sigh::

The poem reads:

the system may reduce failure

if you adjust
the adjustable

It’s not terrible, but I wish I’d gone an artistic direction other than…pink. ((Shudder))

On my second try, I decided to mingle color AND black and white. I tried doing the outline of an image FIRST, and tried to let the flow of the words suggest an image to me. It… kind of worked? A bit?

The poem reads:

in pieces.
lived through history
focused using
to connect,
we share

Finally I thought I had a clue – just use black and white. That’s what the Zentangle artists do, who don’t try and use words but just make patterns. However, somehow my black and white was …too thick of lines? Too uncertain of pen-strokes? Or something. In the end, mine looked more like it intended to be blackout poetry, and also like it needed a watercolor wash, which I didn’t dare try adding because a.) I don’t know how to watercolor and b.) it was busy enough. I like the poem better, though.

The poem reads:

you have sometimes
Over and over
while small has
it speaks,

Whenever I whined – oh, so frequently – about this project, I remembered that Tricia’s stated purpose was to “push us beyond our comfort zones.” BOY, HOWDY did she succeed, so thank you, dear Tricia, I would never have attempted these on my own (and may never again. Perhaps. When the sting of defeat dies down a bit). I’m so excited to see what the rest of us came up with. Here’s Tricia’s zentangle, while Sara’s zentangle-ISH is here. We welcome Andi right here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s zentangle is here. Of course, artist Michelle zentangled with us, and Linda B’s zentangle is here. Carol V’s is summering here, Jone’s here, and here’s Margaret and Chicken Spaghetti’s blogger Susan! Welcome to the Poetry Peeps joining us for the first time! It’s been an intense month, and we’re all in different spaces with it, but as always, various Poetry Peeps will be added throughout the day, so stay tuned. Poetry Friday is capably hosted today by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. I hope your weekend is as randomly artistic and creative as you can make it. As Miss Frizzle says, “Where the road ends, adventure begins!” Here’s to pushing way beyond the boundaries of creativity (and good sense) this weekend.

23 Replies to “{pf: the poetry peeps, zentangled}”

  1. Yay! I am commenting! I’ve had the hardest time commenting on this blog for some reason. But, it seems to be working….so I’ll try not to jinx it. I love the pink! I saw the pink and though, “ooooooooh. pink!” So fun. I wonder if it’s easier to do one of these while in a staff meeting? I find myself doodling in meetings sometimes and I might try to apply the “rules” during those moments. Ha! At any rate, what a FUN challenge! I can’t repeat myself enough–I want to give this a try. And, I will!

    1. @Linda Mitchell: YAY!!! I’m so sorry that WordPress continues to be weird – but yay for today, and may your luck continue!

      Looking back, I think the pink would’ve worked if I’d just GONE with it, but I was panicking through the first try and it all just looked dumb and too bright (shades of me in junior high with a dress that I loved in the dressing room that suddenly felt necessary to hide behind curtains when I left the house). I could’ve made a nice pattern with the yellow, I think, but I chickened out. Boo! Next time I’ll carry through, and just do it. That’s one thing a Zentangle teaches you, to COMMIT.

  2. Fun reference to Yoda-like poems, I always liked Yoda. To me these all work, set them aside and come back and look at them again. I like the altering of the present in your first. How profound the third poem is, and beautiful art too–Yay for you Tanita! In addition to being time consuming, they’re also kinda addictive too…

    1. @Michelle Kogan: It’s true – the longer I leave poetry alone and come back to it, the better it seems to be. I think that’s probably a little bit of a guide to life: Leave It Alone – Come Back Later… Zentangle are addicting! I’ve saved a bunch of ads to try this again…

  3. I loved reading about your process. It was like pedaling uphill on a bicycle with you, the feeling of strength growing as you go, exhilaration as each part of the climb is conquered and then, finally, the summit of the hill — triumphant!

    I love the idea of Zentangle poetry. I’m missing my daughter’s weekly writing group and the opportunity to try this out with some teens.

    1. @Karen Edmisten: I love your metaphor – and while I’m not sure I’m entirely triumphant, the longer I look at these, and the more I turn the words over, the more I like them. I’ll never be an artist, that’s for sure, but I’m happy with the idea of my doodles being useful.

      Oh, man, these WOULD be really fun to teach in a class with tweens and teens! (I may have to add some to a book just because.)

  4. Tanita, your assortment of zentangle poems is quite industrious of you. How I love the flow of your thoughts as if you were having a conversation not only with your inner thoughts but with us, the readers. While you may not think #1 & #2 are not just what you wanted (upon retrospect), the words are strong and meaningful. The last one shares your doodle art quite nicely and I love the poem.
    I ended up creating my zentangle just before the due date. My roadside map was not quite what I wanted but it fit the purpose and I was happy with how the words played out the message.

    1. @cvarsalona: Oh, no – I missed you! I’ve added you now. What a GREAT Zentangle you added to the mix, and …yes, I’m liking my first Zentangle a bit better in retrospect. Here’s to adjusting what we can, and moving on.

      1. Thanks for readingmy post, Tanita. I appreciate you adding my name to the list of #PoetryPals. Tonight and tomorrow, I am hosting Soiritual Journey Thursday with the topic, “Nurturing Our Summer Souls.”

  5. First, your villanelle challenge startled me, as I JUST read this last week: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/06/18/books/elizabeth-bishop-one-art-poem.html?referringSource=articleShare

    On to your Zentangles. Like Denise, most of the fun was in your descriptions of the process. You crack me up! But actually the failed pink actually goes perfectly with your poem. So…not a failure imho. I never did try making an actual picture with my poem, but good on you for the tree and river. I think we can agree that Michelle Kogan wins the prize for best art Zentangle. You nailed it on the last one, though. The large circles holding back the little ones; all of the circles falling down the page like loss. Love it.

    1. @Cousin MaryLee: HAH! The universe declares that villanelles are IN! I can only hope to someday produce something so stunning as “One Art.” Meanwhile, my Zentangling shows I’d better leave art just to words…

  6. All of these are marvelous and profound found poems. I believe you are right about black and white. The last poem really speaks to me and I think you nailed the doddle-ish aspect of a zentangle!
    I’m glad you didn’t give up!

  7. I have to laugh at the pink. It certainly takes over the world, doesn’t it? But I loved reading all about your journey & though you are not so enthused about no. 2, I love the art, that flow, & the message, to me, feels good: “Universal
    exists/in pieces.” Yes! The final one looks more like everyone’s with the black, but your choice of circles connects so much with those words, that ‘over and over’ circles! Thanks for sharing your process, Tanita! I enjoyed the challenge very much.

    1. @lindabaie: I love the ideas that came out of the found poems (even though I don’t quite think my brain is big enough to grasp the universal). Even if I never get the doodling part down – I love having discovered something new in a piece of writing meant entirely for something else.

  8. I am so sad I missed this. I love Zentangling, and I love found poems, and I somehow avoided both :>( Hooray for sharing all your efforts–so cool to see the evolution and your thoughts on these poems. That last one, Tanita, is a stunner. Oh gosh. I really love it. It has the heavy clang of truth, like a sad bell.

    1. @laurasalas: Oh, I’m sorry we missed you, too! I suspect that since you already place your poems within illustrated frames you would have nailed this on your first try. And you would not have used pink. Or yellow…

  9. My first attempt with color was a disaster, and I wasn’t brave enough to post it. (I used NEON orange). I came to the same realization, that black and white (with maybe maybe a hit of color here and there) is best. The swirls in your last poem are lovely, and remind me of Chinese lanterns, or shells. And that poem is both succinct and profound. Here’s to stretching ourselves until we scream. 🙂

    1. @saralewisholmes: 😆 Neon…orange. Well, I’m feeling much better somehow. 😛 The swirls in the last poem are Actual Attempts To Zentangle With A Pattern, though I suspect all of this would be improved with, say, a drawing class??? Ah, well, I’ll try again another day.

  10. Tanita, you really did a wonderful job on these. I love the poems you created – so hard to make sense of random words, but you found significant meaning. And I love how persistent you are with the drawings. I like the black and white one the best.

  11. Tanita, I smiled all the way through your descriptions of your poems and the processes you used. The pink highlighter and your comments cracked me up! I’m glad you were challenged out of your comfort zone, and the poems you found within these pages are quite effective and beautiful.

    1. @Denise Krebs: Use pink! she thought. It’s a great, cheerful color! she thought. Boy, was she wrong. I knew it the minute I started drawing, but I kept thinking it’d get better…. um, nope. Oh, well. Next time…

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