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Happy May! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at Carrot Ranch with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we’ll explore how to use this form to inspire our poetic muse. 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.
Why Write Poetry?
When a writer embraces the ability to convey complex images and emotions in just a few lines, they have learned to strengthen their writing. In the same way, flash fiction helps us hone in on the words to tell our story, syllabic poetry does much the same by forcing us to find the best word and meaning. This brevity of words leads to more concise writing.
Syllabic verse is any kind of poetry defined by the number of syllables in each line. In English, syllables must have a vowel sound. For example, the word “apple” has two vowel sounds, which divide it into the syllables “ap” and “ple.” Depending on our accent, we pronounce some words with different accents on the syllables. For example, the word “fire” and “poem” can be read with either one or two vowel sounds.
Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is a very important tool to convey meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which gives you access to synonyms and rhyming words as you’re composing.
Using Themes in Poetry
What are themes? A theme is a message you want to convey through your poetry. Many poets choose a romantic theme for their poetry, but that doesn’t always appeal to everyone. Another popular theme is “human verses nature.” Writing about the human experience is one way we connect with others through the written word.
Here is a list of some the common themes in poetry from Emma Baldwin. “19 Different Types of Themes in Poetry”. Poem Analysis, https://poemanalysis.com/poetry-explained/poetry-themes/.
- new life
- coming of age
Why are themes important? If you like to read and write poetry it’s because you enjoy “word craft.” At least that’s what I call it. Word craft is the way you, as a writer or poet, shape words into a distinct purpose. It’s your personal brand of magic that you employ to enchant your reader. Often, the theme of your poem reveals itself as an additional meaning. It’s that “a-ha moment” when you make the connection through a poem’s deeper meaning. Remember, without a theme, your poetry does not have a purpose.
The double Ennead is perfect for themed poetry. The three stanzas allow the poem to flow naturally with a beginning, middle, and end, much like our 99-word flash fiction flows.
When you choose a theme, try to break it up into three distinct parts. In my example, I write about the passage of time in the garden featuring a morning glory during the morning, at noon, and at night, per stanza. I added a bit of rhyme because it flowed naturally, unforced. As always, end rhyme schemes are optional.
"The Morning Glory" morning glory dawns bright dew-speckled petals, blossom forth to receive the sun's inner light impermanence of life eternal love's plight morning glory day shines purple, pink, and white noontide sun feeds and sustains unplanted vines no less a pesky weed the will to survive morning glory night wanes flowers snuggle deep under star glow, provocative scents remain promising a new day growth comes with the rain ©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro
At first glance, you might think this poem is only about the morning glory plant. Good grief, they’re weeds! However, there is much more here. I chose this flower because of its will to survive, no matter what. My theme is about perseverance and surviving when the chips are down.
This month, select your own theme for your double Ennead poem. Follow your inner voice for inspiration.
- Write a double ennead poem. Remember to count your syllables.
- Post it on your blog or in the comments at the bottom of the post.
- 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 poetry!
Dusk dims visibility along the three-mile stretch between Samuel’s and home. I’m watching a rising blue moon over the Cabinets to the east, feeling satisfied from a Friday night fish, chips and clams dinner at the gas station. Best food and fuel around.
The Hub slows down. “Do you see the buck?”
He’s got the gaze of a sniper and the eyes of a 20-year old with perfect vision. He could have been a pilot. Instead he jumped from airplanes, an Army Ranger, then learned to turn wrenches on powerplants that drive aviation. 30 years later and he still has quick reflexes. Without over-braking, he slows down and we both watch the white-tailed buck trot into the obscurity of tall dry grass in low light.
We missed the other buck.
Well, not exactly missed him because we hit him with our red Ford Fusion, our James Bond car if you’ve seen Casino Royale. Neither one of us is licensed to kill anything. True, we have fishing licenses, but we fly-fish with barbless hooks, catch and release. Hitting a deer on the road is deadly for all involved.
As with most accidents, it happened like a flash of lightning. You wonder, was there really just a bolt of white electricity that reached from heaven to earth? Did we really just hit a deer? Did it fly into the air and scramble away? Oh, dear. The car, the insurance rates, the poor animal…is he okay?
Suddenly, dinner isn’t settled in my tummy. I’m sick with grief for the buck. I feel as though I reached out with my own fist and punched it senseless. I feel guilty. Responsible. And I wasn’t even driving. Riding shotgun, I’m often the early warning system, navigating my husband through a series of safety questions. Did you see that turn signal? There’s a curve up ahead, what’s your speed? Are you watching for deer? Moose? Elk? Do really think you can drive like Mr. Bond?
It’s human, this rush of emotion. In fact, it’s even common to want to rescue an injured deer along the road, according to an editor at the Tahoma Literary Review:
“One particularly surprising theme I’ve noticed gaining in popularity is ‘I ran over a deer (or other animal) and have decided to nurse it back to health.’ The idea here (and it’s not a bad one) is to create a metaphor for the protagonist’s desire to rescue his/her life by rescuing another’s. Unfortunately the premise of the story is common enough that an editor may turn it down just on that basis.”
What felt like an exceptional experience, smashing our hood and fender on the rump of a buck, turns out to be nothing more than a commonplace theme that fatigues literary journal editors. Oh…the editor sighs…another struck deer story…
But wait, Mr. Bored Editor. I have a gun.
Shock value? Does that get attention? It must. Last week writers ripped stories from the headlines and even common stories were led with shocking titles. It’s become so prevalent, these headlines, that even innocuous stories are using them to get attention. Consider the headline for the woman who makes dinner: “She went to the grocery store, bought food and you won’t believe what happened next!” The reason news headlines stand out is because they rely upon shock factor.
Does that mean our stories, books or novels need to shock? Put the fear of somebody’s god into another? Show gallbladders and guts on the first page? Guilt parents into sleepless nights? Spank a character silly? And all because editors are tired of common themes?
Here’s a thought. Apply imagination. Ultimately writers know how to retreat into both head and heart space, taking with them the everyday occurrences of life, and mixing it into a concoction that includes what-if scenarios, what-should-be-but-isn’t, characters with ability, characters with disability, ideas, emotion, places we’ve been to, and places we’ve never seen except within our own minds and dreams.
It’s not that we need to shock readers; we merely need to surprise them and for a purpose. Offer meaning. Get readers to understand the implications of themes that touch our lives. Really, those common themes are why classics have universal capacity. But authors of such classics have applied imagination. Go deep beneath the surface when you write and find your voice. It will be the one thing you have over a sea of writers all writing about the same things.
Voice will serve you better than shock value.
This week’s challenge is two-fold:
- August 5, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write the common premise: “I ran over a deer (or other animal) and have decided to nurse it back to health.”
- But before you write, daydream. Do something out of your normal routine for 10 minutes. Go outside, sit and stare into space. Rest in a meditative yoga pose. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Mow the lawn, or do the dishes. Let your mind wander to the story and daydream before you write it.
In the comments, state if this exercise had a profound effect or not. I look forward to your imagined commonplace stories. And as to our buck, we did go back and found no blood or deer. We hope he is merely sore and has an uncommon story to tell his herd. Our car, well, it may get totaled. We find out tomorrow.
Respond by August 11, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Be sure to check out the updates to the Bunkhouse Bookstore. We have three Rough Writers in the midst of launching novels: Anne Goodwin (Sugar and Snails), Geoff Le Pard (My Father and Other Liars), and Luccia Gray (Twelth Night at Eyre Hall). All three books are worth a read and a resounding yee-haw!
Good With Animals by Charli Mills
“Sylvia, darling, off to the store.” Mae pumped the gas pedal with her worn slipper until the truck engine rumbled. Lights on, she drove the backroads, carefully.
The store was closed. She had no money, anyhow. Mae drove back, watchful for deer. One smashed the front grill and lay panting on the pavement.
“Hush, now. I’m good with animals.” With a winch, Mae loaded the deer and returned home, dragging it to a barn stall of soft hay. She flicked on the light, illuminating hundreds of eyes.
Returning to the house, Sylvia asked Mae, “Did you get cat food?”