Happy Summer Solstice! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at the Saloon with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we will explore a different theme or image to inspire our poetry. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have an entire month to write your poem.

Check out the poems from last month HERE

The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet.

This month, let’s take the double ennead through the TUFF challenge like we do for the Carrot Ranch Rodeo. I’ll show you how to take your double ennead from 99 syllables to 48 syllables, to 24 syllables to finally, a haiku *(12 syllable poem).

Why? This exercise illustrates the importance of the brevity of words. This is a great way to craft the shorter forms of syllabic poetry like haiku, senryu, tanka, etc.

*What happened to the 5-7-5 (17 syllable) haiku?

On page 22-23 of “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry,” I explain why poets no longer write their haiku in 17 syllables. It’s a matter of linguistics. The Japanese write in sounds called onji, and we use syllables in English. The Japanese onji are shorter than our syllables. If we’re going to embrace haiku, we should write the form as authentically as we can.

William J. Higginson and Penny Harter, in their book, “The Haiku Handbook” explain:

“Approximately twelve English syllables best duplicates the length of Japanese haiku in the traditional form of seventeen onji.”

“The Haiku Handbook,” Chapter 8: The Form of Haiku, p. 102″

Here’s my double ennead:

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

summer solstice blessings 
flow from father sun
we recognize the longest day of the year
wearing bright flower crowns
bonfire magic soars

celebrate the summer
new freedoms restored
cast your spells to air, water, earth, and fire
jubilant songs voiced to
the mother goddess 

give thanks for connections
family and friends
influence reality for the better
work your magic toward 
shared fresh beginnings 

For the 48 syllable poem I’ll use a 4-7-5 stanza trio:

summer solstice...
celebrate sunshine
all hail to the longest day

wear flower crowns
before the bonfire
where fiery sparks soar like stars

giving thanks for
family and friends
all together once again

Now, let’s reduce our syllables to 24 (6-6-6-6) and only one stanza:

summer solstice blessings 
honor the longest day
bonfires and flower crowns
we're together again

Finally, our 12 syllable haiku (short-long-short):

summer solstice... 
honor the longest day
give thanks

When writing haiku, you should have two images that converge to give you that special moment of insight into the poet’s experience. Here’s how you can check to see if your haiku works.

Take the first line and the second line: summer solstice… honor the longest day. We have our kigo (the season word) along with the phrase summer solstice. This gives us our first mind image. We know it’s summer and the longest day of the year.

Now, take the second line and the third line which is the pivot: honor the longest day, give thanks. The second mind image imparts the “aha-moment” when we realize the experience of the longest night of the year is truly a gift. This experience is something we should be thankful for.

The haiku’s combined images converge into our realization that experiencing the longest day of the year is truly an experience to celebrate. What a great way to celebrate summer!

Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is very important to conveying a meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which is my favorite because you get access to synonyms as you’re composing.

  • Write your 99 syllable double ennead poem on a subject of your choice. Take into consideration that haiku are written about nature. Reduce the syllables until you reach the haiku (12 syllables) written in a short-long-short syllable structure). You should have 3 poems. The double ennead, a reduced syllable poem of your choice of syllables, and your haiku (12 syllables).
  • Post it on your blog or in the comments if you don’t have a blog.
  • Include a link back to this challenge in your post. (copy the https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Read and comment on your fellow poet’s work. Feedback from other poets is how we grow our poetry writing craft.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • I’ll visit, comment, and share your poetry on social media!

Now have fun and write some syllabic poetry!

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