Wednesday, September 20, 2017
"Cycling Forward" by John Reinhart
poetic form to my father
while he ran beside my bicycle, training wheels gone;
my first self-generated breeze
tasting of mountains
yet to come,
through a temporal
prism: I am now my father
racing to keep up as my son’s bicycle careens
into high school, college, futures,
fast enough –
moving forward, wherever that
leads, whatever that means, convoluted by twists and
hills, gravel and breakups, loss and
punctures, air gone out
of his sails;
Poet's Notes: Form is often seen as contrary to creativity, anathema to many modern poets. Count me in that group when form is for form's sake. The beauty of modern poetry is the wealth of form and history upon which we can draw. No longer constrained by what is acceptable poetry, we can write concrete poetry that insenses politicians (Aram Saroyan's "Lighght," for instance). We can write metered sonnets, linked epic limericks, or just write.
The pinnacle of all this, for me, is when I play with a poem and it settles into a particular form. It's not jammed into a shape, nor is the shape the defining element. There is a point where the form helps draw out the meaning just behind the words. Even when form is not obvious, the strongest poems hold together with certain tools, whether rhythm, sound, form, or story.
Linda Addison recently reminded me of the Fibonacci poem form, and it has been a good exercise in form with flexibility, the marriage of mathematical truth and imagination.
Editor’s Note: Information about the Fibonacci poetry form may be found here https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/68971/1-1-2-3-5-8-fun. Information about the Fibonacci code may be found here https://www.livescience.com/37470-fibonacci-sequence.html.