{pf: poetry peeps elfchen it up}

Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps adventure!

Friends, it has been a year of TRANSFORMATION and we’ve been glad to have every one of you who joined us. Thanks for being one of our #PoetryPals this year.

The Sisters are very shortly going to be in our annual poetry confab to come up with the 2024 challenges we’re setting ourselves, and to choose a theme or word of the year. While normally I’d let you know in this space what’s on for next month… you’ll have to stay tuned for the January 7th announcement! In the meantime, if you have a form or style suggestion, please feel free to drop it in the comments.

FROM PROCESS…: Our last challenge for 2023… might have been set by me? None of us remembers anymore, but since I’m a real fan of a five line poem, we suspect me. ☺ The Elfchen is eleven words, and the -chen suffix is a diminutive, so it’s a “little eleven” poem. As I began Duolingo German this year, I was happily able to try writing with my shaky grasp of another language. The basic Elfchen rules requires ONE word for line one, TWO for line two, THREE words for line three, FOUR for line four, and returns to ONE word for the fifth line. I’ve read that the first word is meant to be a topical, setting the tone of the piece, and the final word is meant to summarize and wrap things up. I did not always feel the need to summarize, as sometimes the topic wasn’t closed, but I like knowing what I’m supposed to be trying to achieve!

Of course, my restless brain took those rules and …tweaked them a little, deciding to not use only counted words, but counted syllables as well. As German is not a language known for short words, beginning with a single word of a single syllable was… definitely more of a challenge. (WHY did I feel like I needed more of a challenge? German wasn’t enough? Yikes, brain). As I made my attempts, I quickly discovered that I had to actually write in German, not take what I wanted to say in English, translate it, and then create the poem — that didn’t work at all.

…TO POETRY. What worked best for me was simply to draft many, many poems. Writing egregiously bad poetry is sometimes the only way I can get to the better stuff, so I wrote and wrote, as rain rolled down my office window. This is why so many of the poems I drafted had to do with being sleepy and or wanting to be cozy and warm… and/or wanting desperately to go back to bed with a book…! I wrote so many Elfchen it got to where I was once again counting words or syllables while I was thinking. The other day I wrote in an email to a friend: “Busy”/ isn’t true/ My holiday was/ Wholly ‘booked’ this year/…reading! However, I will spare you more of my stream-of-consciousness poetry, and share what the rest of the Poetry Sisters got up to. Tricia introduces us to a reverse elfchen here. Liz’s poem is here. Laura’s poem is here. Mary Lee’s is here, and Michelle K’s myriad Elfchen are here. Carol V.’s poems are here, and Linda B.’s Elfchen is here. Denise’s poems are here, and Heidi’s irresistible Elfchen are here.

More Poetry Peeps may be elfchening throughout the weekend, so stay tuned.

Let It Go For Now
nicht wahr?
Wenn endlich
der Tag endet:
isn’t it?
When finally
the day ends:

In neither language does this fit the rules for word count, but it does make the syllabic rule work.

Ausschlaffen (Sleeping In)
drumming drops
murmur, “Safe. Sleep.

This final poem follows the actual rules of the Elfchen and not my invented ones – in an announcement that pretty much speaks for itself and explains why many are receiving New Year’s cards:

My Last Spoon
The drawer
yawns empty now –
No further hungers sated

Poetry Friday today is generously hosted @ More Art 4 All with Michelle K., one of our Poetry Peeps who has been playing with the Elfchen form for a couple of weeks now. May you find warmth and light as the year burns down to its coals – and may you gather a breath of strength, purpose, and hope to fan the flames again for next year. Happy New Year.

9 Replies to “{pf: poetry peeps elfchen it up}”

  1. Tanita, I love the elchen capturing the sweetness of the day ending. It is remarkable to me that you wrote an elfchen in German. And what a good idea to replace word count with syllabic count. Happy New Year to you!

  2. I think that moving forward I’ll replace “I’m on my last nerve” to “I’m on my last spoon.” 🙂 I love all of these, and your German ones are especially fantastic. Ich will jetzt schlaffen!

  3. Tanita, dear cousin, you excelled yourself–most especially in your presentation! I want a magnet of each Elfchen (spoon is my favorite), und ich liebe es, wie du für deine Themen hier und da hingegangen bist! Es war einmal das ich konnte Deutsch wohl sprechen…aber nicht mehr! Happy New Year to you and yours.

  4. Love the “drumming drops/ murmur” you can feel them and their softness… And glad the drawer is sated. I was discussing the elfchen’s with my son who took a few years of German in college, he was kindly helping me with the pronunciations, while enjoying learning about the structure–fun to share!

    Your Purpose in your closing reminds me of Centenarian folks living in “Blue Zones” and how having a purpose has always been important to them, i.e. writing , making art ,etc. This is via Dan Buettner and the Blue Zones: https://www.netflix.com/title/81214929 Thanks for all Tanita, Happy New Year!

  5. I so enjoyed reading your beginning thoughts, Tanita, & then reading what you wrote, even in German! One granddaughter has been studying German for a while now so I will send her yours! I love the ‘drumming drops’, and ‘Yes, sweet’ though we have little rain for lullabies. And the thought of the bittersweetness of “the last spoon” makes me taste it! Best wishes for a very Happy New Year to you & yours & to the #PoetrySisters!

  6. I’ve tried multiple times to comment, so let’s hope the third time is the charm! (Apparently I cannot comment from my phone or in airports.) I love that you wrote poems in German. Who cares if they aren’t traditional elfchen? They’re beautiful!

    I’m so struck by the last poem and the image of “The drawer/yawns empty now.”
    I bow before the elfchen queen!

    Happy new year, Tanita!

  7. Tanita, these are all so beautiful. So thought-provoking, like your Last Spoon poem. And the beauty of the German. (The translation, for me, especially.) I love the rain drops “Safe. Sleep.” message (that period after Safe makes it so much better! Thank you for including the link to my own elfchens–how thoughtful of you to share all of our work.

  8. Tanita! Poems in German? Wow. I love that first one. Some nights, when I’m writing my brief capture of the day, including three things I’m grateful for, my bed is one of those 3! I’m not a sleeper-inner, but that sleeping in sounds so cozy, I wish I could be! I agree about writing egregiously bad poems in high volume. For me, that happens when I explore a topic in many different forms. Rarely when I’m trying a specific form. Isn’t it strange how differently all our writing minds work? Happy New Year! May all your spoons be full of deliciousness in 2024!

  9. YOU WROTE POEMS IN GERMAN, Tanita. That is remarkable, isn’t it? I adore your process, and your poems. The syllabics take me back to my genuine obsession with the etheree. There is something about counting the beats, adding a metronome to the words we’re trying to conjure…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.