{pf: poetry peeps dansa the day away}

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

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of November! Here’s the scoop: we’re creating recipe poems! Your choice of form, length, topic, or meter, but each poem will be an assemblage of elements, using recipe text/cooking instructions to create …something. From a recipe for disaster, to your favorite aperitif, you have a month to craft your creation and Serve It Forth on November 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag .

This was my first time ever hearing about an Occitan Dansa, or the Balete (Old French), or the Ballata (Italian), as it was known in the Middle Ages. The dansa was the basic structure of poetry which troubadours set to lively music for dancing and singing, and was first introduced to modern audiences in THE SHAPES OF OUR SINGING by Robin Skelton in 2001. I always enjoy hearing a bit more about a new form during our In-Person chat, and reflected on what Tricia’s research deep dive had revealed, mainly how a dansa was meant to be a joyful dance. Unfortunately, the first several poems I was able to pull out using the rhyme and repeated refrain structure were all… pretty sharp. Not really dance-y topics, social lies and a lament on a multiplicity of possessions. (Those are possibly even weird topics for non-dance-y poems, but that’s where I live, in the intersection of Weird and Obviously Going There.) Desdansa, we learned, is the name of the non-joyful poems, but they’re meant to be sad and depressing – the sorts of tales of battlefields and lost kingdoms meant to elicit tears! Not what I wanted to write either. So, I kept scribbling…

During my many attempts at making something fun and dance-y, the rules imprinted themselves on my subconscious. It was freezing Monday morning, and I as I watched my husband bouncing as he looked for his flannel-lined wool cardigan, I teased, “Is shivering your new dance?” The next thing I knew, I was muttering:

Is shivering a dance?
As hairs on my arms stand
Tightening every strand
I look at them askance.
What caused this happenstance?
Is shivering a dance?

Occasionally, this poetry thing is contagious.


Quite a few of us have caught dansa fever – Laura’s post is here. Mary Lee’s is here. Sara’s is here. Liz’s poem is here. Tricia’s is here. Michelle K’s dansa-ing today, as is Carol V. Margaret’s dansa is here. Even more Peeps will sashay on through during the course of the dansa-line, so stay tuned for the roundup. If you want even more poetry goodness, check in at Jone Rush MacCulloch’s blog for the big Poetry Friday roundup.


I did determine that there’s a topic many of us can be happy about naturally – sweetness. A friend mentioned she’d had her first cider doughnut of the season, and I immediately thought, “Yes.” While I’ve never actually had a cider doughnut before (I know, but a.) we don’t do as much cider on the West Coast, in the same ways, and b.) apples good enough to eat are, to me, to be eaten out of hand or with a bit of caramel as an autumn treat, not …cooked unless it’s end of season. Maybe I’ll get there this year. Don’t judge me), I suspect they’re something I’d approve of wholeheartedly.

Middle grade author and librarian Mike Jung always comes to mind when I think of doughnuts, as his social media is mostly a lament when he’s not eating them, dreamy distraction when he is eating them, imagining when next he can eat them, and some library science, cute cat/offspring pictures, aikido, and I’m-revising-this-chapter-WHY-is-writing-so-HARD progress thrown in just for personal balance. Anything about doughnuts must, ergo, be for Mike… so this one’s for you, Mr. J.


I hope you find something to dance about this weekend. Lacking that, I hope you enjoy a doughnut (in whatever way “enjoy” works for you. I see my sugar intolerant folx. Just looking at the pretty frosting can be enough). If you’re creating mid-mess like I am (I. Hate. Moving. House.), keep the idea of a doughnut at the forefront of your mind… at least when you’re done wading through the mess you can give yourself a break and a treat of some sort. Take care, poets!

11 Replies to “{pf: poetry peeps dansa the day away}”

  1. Dancing with doughnuts by way of a dansa? Delightful. I haven’t had a doughnut in ages (part of our house is gluten-free so some things have just fallen by the wayside) but the last time I did, my motto was “the sweeter the better.” I ate it and promptly fell into a sugar coma. 🙂

    Love the way shivers led to so much inspiration. And now I want a flannel-lined wool cardigan. 😀

  2. The dangers of missing the In-Person chat, and the revelation that a dansa was meant to be a joyful dance. I definitely missed that boat. Oh, well. Dansas also work for a message you want to hammer home!

    Now that I’m perhaps permanently gluten free, donuts are not a thing for me (no, I haven’t gone looking for a gluten free option because…why be disappointed yet again. Re: every baked good I ever loved). But a girl can dream. Warm Krispie Kremes, maple Long Johns, glaze-coated crullers…sigh. Thanks for this joyful donut dance!

  3. I just had a donut this morning, at my favorite grocery, the one time a week I partake. It is the sweetness, I admit, that gets me every time, but I can wait till the next time rolls around. The shivers came to us early this week, too, with a bit of snow, & then the roar of the furnace. I was grateful, and not quite ready for the hairs on my arms to dance. It has warmed during the day! I enjoyed reading all that happened during your own dansa, Tanita.

  4. Tanita, you just made me hungry for Halloween treats. Sweet baking is my go-to fun and your poem captured my sweet tooth frenzy although donuts end up not agreeing with me. Your first dansa caught my fancy. Tonight is the Halloween party in our community and our resident DJ is cooking up a treat. Maybe the shiver dance will be a fun option for the “Monster Mash.” Would you like to post one of your dansas (or any other poem) at my Finding Fall 2022 Padlet Gallery? https://padlet.com/cvarsalona/awz68cfim4nac1rp
    Happy Halloween!

  5. I’m in the “more sweet” camp. When a judge on a baking show comments, “These cupcakes [or whatever] are very sweet,” I’m thinking–yes, bonus points for them! But the judge, of course, means it as a knock. Anyway, these are fun! I can see people doing an interpretive dance to your shivering one, and “Leave no doughnut untried!” is a motto I can sink my teeth into. Hehe.

  6. Tastey poem Tanita, though I’m one of those sugar intolerant folks so I’ll just admire from the lines of your lyrical poem–nice art too, thanks!

  7. Oh, doughnuts!! My kind of dansa. They’re a rare treat — maybe once a year — and even then there is guilt, but a doughnut poem is calorie and guilt free, so thanks for the fall treat! I’m doing a version of the shiver dance right now just sitting here.

  8. Ah, the shiver dance…I did that a lot as a skin and bones kid during swim lessons. Glad you found some fun in the dansa, and why not in donuts? I admit to liking them only just a little (and the least sweet variety at that) but they’re always so pretty that I keep thinking: okay, well, I’ll try THAT ONE. Your poem completely captures that 🙂

    1. @saralewisholmes: I’m of the “just look at the frosting” group myself; I don’t really like traditional doughnuts either, although we had a bakery near our old house which made mochi doughnuts, which are a little less sweet.

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