{pf: poetry peeps cascade into transformation}

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

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of February! Here’s the scoop: we’re creating ekphrastic poems! Your choice of form, length, topic, or meter, but each poem should be based on an image you’re willing to share (a Creative Commons image is best if it’s not one you’ve taken yourself or have permission to use). You have a month to craft your creation and share it on February 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

January, my friends, has seemed both simultaneously six years and five minutes long. Topping my list of Ugh, No tasks this month was shameless self-promotion for my newly released middle grade novel, and Tech Boy’s office party. The glorious reprieve provided by the pandemic is over, so I had to put on my big girl pants – and my mask, because only the reprieve is over – and get on a boat (in the midst of atmospheric rivers on the eve of a massive flood, whose bright idea was this???) and make small talk over indifferent food with too loud of music. Even beyond the wild wind and the waves, beyond stepping into an ankle deep puddle and running from the dock between showers, it all seemed ghastlier because I hadn’t done it in so long. Social muscles atrophy if ignored, just like every other muscle group.

As the Poetry Sisters sat down to work on our poems this month, we shared stories of what was going on in our lives – and some of us tried writing about it. Whether it was because we were unsure of what to say, or had a lot of ranting to do that didn’t want to fit itself to the Cascade form, few of us were ecstatic about our first drafts. (But you should see what Sara came up with, and here’s Laura’s poem, and Liz’s. Here’s Mary Lee’s, and here’s Tricia’s poem. Jone’s is here, and Heidi’s is here. You’ll find Margaret’s poem here, and Linda B’s poem here, and here’s Michelle’s and this one is Molly’s. Carol V’s poem she dropped off on her way out!. Kelly’s poem is on her desk in New Jersey… and she’s on an even bigger boat than I was on, so check back next month! As the weekend goes on, more Peeps will be joining the fun so check back for the full roundup.)

Additionally, adding an annual theme to our challenges is new for us. Some of us chose to highlight our theme of “transformation” through the poem form itself. The Cascade, I was delighted to learn, was invented by political theorist Udit Bhartia, whose research focuses on “normative democratic theory, comparative constitution-making, and social epistemology.” I noted that whether in the tercet or quatrain form of the Cascade, the poet seems to need to begin with a strong statement that can shift through the rest of the lines. I can see how a political theorist would know how best to use a firm thesis statement!

While I found the tercet to have too few lines, the quatrain was an immediate fit. I had the intention to create something unrhymed – in the name of our annual theme of transformation I intended to at least try to stop rhyming everything – but this off-the-cuff rhymed effort worked out better. Rather than shift lines as my change, I focused on the idea of a resolution, or, as some call it, “setting intentions.”

Introvert Intention

A Show up: half the battle is won.
B Say, “Yes.” People-watch. That’s still fun.
C If “No” tries the world to control –
D Change tunes. A new song feeds the soul.

a So what if “I’m Quiet”‘s your fame?
b A quiet match still kindles flame.
c Though you won’t spark with everyone,
A Show up. Half the battle is won.

d Skill as a good listener amends
e A lack of “crowd-loving” in friends
f Who shine brightest when one-on-one.
B Say, “Yes,” people. Watch – that’s still fun.

g One hour: that’s it. You’ve agreed
h To socialize (TRY). It could lead
i To new friends, new tastes, or new goals,
C If “No” tries the world to control…

j So caution to winds, will you try
k a new way of being, whereby
l you give Chance a new, starring role?
D Change tunes. A new song feeds the soul.

I left the “frame” up so you’ll see how straightforward a Cascade can be. For me, stanzas worked well for me put into sentence form, otherwise I sometimes fell into making short, punchy statements that occasionally sounded unnecessarily aggressive. This was a fun form to play with, and I look forward to digging more into it – maybe even without a rhyme.

(You’ll note that I don’t promise to report on my intentions to socialize more… everything is a work in progress in this transformation business.)

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Jan at Bookseed Studio. If you find yourself faltering already at intentions you’ve set, today is a new day – and it only takes turning a different direction to be at a beginning instead of an ending. Happy Year of the Cat, Rabbit, and Happy Weekend.

27 Replies to “{pf: poetry peeps cascade into transformation}”

  1. We’ve never met in person, Tanita, but I feel like you KNOW me with this stanza — trying to pep-talk myself into going to some event:

    One hour: that’s it. You’ve agreed
    To socialize (TRY). It could lead
    To new friends, new tastes, or new goals

  2. I definitely get through your poem the angst I feel often in large groups, but it’s important to push on and use our social muscles. I like the form of this poem. Thanks for sharing it. Showing up is often more than half the battle.

  3. Oh, my, YES, it’s all so true. It’s not easy for us introverts to change tunes and try new ways of being. But life keeps giving us the opportunity to do just that, right? (If we want to call if “opportunity” … sometimes I like to call it torture.)

  4. My husband and I were just talking about the introvert struggle. I loved hearing about what you’ve been doing (Yay for your book!!! Congratulations!!!) and how you’ve been having to move out into some new territory. Your rhyming cascade is spot on. My favorite line — “A quiet match still kindles flame.” Yes!

  5. I loved your introduction, Tanita, showing that you have taken your poem’s challenge already! Writing your book must have been delightful; promoting it might be the bigger challenge. You’ve given us all an inspiring way to look at going out into the world, “will you try a new way of being,” speaks loud! Thanks for the great post!

  6. YES. We have to do so many things in life that don’t appeal to us, but…but…we can find ways to enjoy them, or at least bear them. We can be ourselves and experience things in our own way. And that’s enough. I especially love your second stanza, Tanita. And your rhymes DO work well! But I fully support your vow to play more with non-rhyming, too, since rhyming can become a crutch. Way to go!

  7. As always, Cousin Tanita, I enjoy your preliminary exposition as much as your poem, and can we just all give a round of applause for your gorgeous presentation?! You had me at turquoise, and then that font and the lil decorations…brightening my morning right up! It’s quite a feat to stretch to 4 lines WITH rhyme, and you end up with something that feels like warm and wise advice from–well, a cousin. Your extrovert muscles deserve a break now, and congratulations on HENRI…I shall be getting my hands on it forthwith!

    1. @Heidi: Cousin, I have to admit that I saw a design like this elsewhere and recreated it – in a rich turquoise that made me happy, too. I’m ready for bright pops of color to enliven the gray. Hope you find more today!

  8. I’m such an introvert that I am with you wholeheartedly in this poem. Sure. I’ll try it. But later I have to go back into my hole. Thanks for sharing your process.

  9. Wonderful Tanita, I’m just loving the syncopated rhythm your poems giving us, and then all the on-the-fence of going or not–great! I don’t always like going but I go… And the small talk, uh…

    BTW I have your new book, “Figure It Out, Heri Weldon,” it’s calling to me to begin… I just finished reading Linda Sue Park’s, “Wing & Claw Forest of Wonders, which I purchased at a SCBWI conference a while back with her sig and all and for some reason just read it. I loved her book, and it’s good I don’t have the next book in her trilogy, so I can dive into yours!

  10. Congratulations on your ongoing transformation! Your poem title is fantastic…and the push-pull of showing up…not wanting to be there is great. This topic works with this form. Bravo!

  11. Quick comment before I go on the Disney Wish: Thanks for introducing a new format for me to play with. Your poem came out quite nicely. I like the rhyming touch and the bit of inspiration at the end. I’ll take a chance, Tanita.

  12. Here’s to new songs! I was nodding in sympathy all through the poem, and like the hopeful determination to change/transform. My fave line might be “A quiet match still kindles flame.” And I love your graphic, BTW. 🙂

  13. I’m not sure I can anything more eloquent than what’s been said. I dread heading out for parties and am happiest when heading home.
    I do love what you’ve done with the transformation of this line:
    Say, “Yes.” People-watch. That’s still fun.
    “Say, “Yes,” people. Watch – that’s still fun.”

    Kudos on adding another level of difficulty with the rhyme! I bow to your genius.

  14. I always THINK I want to go to a party, until the moment comes to go. Then I really really want to stay home. But then when I do go—and I usually show up–I have more fun than I think I will…or if not, like you, I watch, and “gather material” haha. “Always a new song” is a lovely intention for 2023.

  15. Ha! We wrote a yin and yang pair of cascades — yours encouraging risk-taking and socialization, and mine giving permission to quit the crowd and go off alone! Bonus points for the rhyme!! Yours is all the better for your description of the office party. What fun (not) THAT seems to have been…

    1. I FEEL THIS SO HARD. Thank you for putting it into words and for the reminder that there is always the possibility of a new song. This is lovely.

    2. @MaryLee: I just about cracked up that we were on a BOAT and all the subtle couple sign language of “Oh, dear heavens, let’s just GO” didn’t work when we were twenty-five minutes away from land!!! Never again…

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