Tag Archives: volta

Rain, rain, rain …

 

rain

 

This poem by Lemm Sissay is a great example of “concrete” poetry: the physical shape of the poem fits with the subject matter. Rain is on a wall on Oxford Road, Manchester, between the Whitworth and Manchester University. It’s the partner of Hardy’s Well, the poem by Lemm Sissay that is on the wall of a pub. I blogged about that in July last year. The title of the piece is What a Waste!

The last few days it has been raining here in Manchester, though the sun comes out now and then. It made me think of the famous poem Rain by Don Paterson. You can find it on http://www.poetry.org the site of the Academy of American Poets. It’s mostly in four-line stanzas and has end-rhymes, and starts:

I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;

The poem ends with a one-line stanza which is a very striking “turn”. Many poems have turns, most famously, of course, the sonnet form with its volta. Paterson has:

and none of this, none of this matters.

 
My rain poem is in my collection Another life. There are several turns in the poem, including in the final stanza.

The Lido, Clifton

It is dry this Monday morning.
I wonder what it’s like swimming here
when it rains. Just then the drizzle starts,
a gently pulsating rhythm.

Bristol had the oldest open-air lido
in the country. Refurbished Grade II
it sits between the backs of offices.

The water is warm, kept at this
steady temperature. Floating on my back
I see the movement of clouds.

The following year my friend
would abandon me once I became ill,
but here we are drawing small ripples
in the water, each of us in our own lane.

New poetic form: 821 – a competition

The 821 is an 11-line, 3-stanza poem created in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Northern Poetry Library. This is based in Morpeth, Northumberland and has the largest collection of post-WWII poetry in England outside London: over 15,000 volumes.

Why 821? It is the number allocated to English poetry in the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System. The form also uses the “volta”, the turn, a concept traditionally associated with sonnets, and this is used to create a subtly interconnected series of stanzas that turn, or riff of one another.

The poem consists of an opening octet (8 lines), line break, a couplet (2 lines), line break, followed by a single line. There is no set meter. It could use a rhyme scheme or be free verse.

The Northern Poetry Library is sponsoring a competition for 821 poems. International entries are welcome. The poem needs to have a connection to the “North”; how you interpret this is up to you. The judges will select a total of 50 poems: during a five-month’ period 10 poems will be picked each month to form a canto which will be published on-line.

Include with the submission a statement (max 100 words) about your connection to the North. The closing date is 17 June 2018. Some sample poems are on https://poemsofthenorth.co.uk

I am grateful to poet Pam Thompson for introducing me to the form. I am definitely going to submit: I have been in the North West for almost 40 years so I have the connection, but I don’t yet have the poem – I’m not finding it easy to get a balance between the opening octet and those final three lines…