Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fussy Little Forms: Tritina

Hello, Toads! October being upon us, the first month of the last quarter of the calendar year. Which really has not much to do with the short poetry form I’m proposing that we try today, the TRITINA.

Tritina is the more compact step-sister of sestina and villanelle, two forms that I (you?) find difficult! But somehow in this shorter version it seems manageable. Could be I’m wrong, but let’s try anyway. Tritina was invented by the American poet Marie Ponsot, who says about strict poetry forms:

“The forms create an almost bodily pleasure in the poet. What you’re doing is trying to discover. They are not restrictive. They pull things out of you. They help you remember.”

I love this and feel the same--but it’s so good to be reminded as I’ve been a bit distant from my poems and my remembering lately.

So the rules of tritina are as follows. It is a ten-line poem with three tercets and a final line, featuring three repeating, non-rhyming line-end words, like this:  
1-2-3
3-1-2
2-3-1
The final line contains all 3 words as 1-2-3
The tritina does not have a required meter, but it is generally thought that tritina should have a consistent meter or rhythm throughout to emphasize the repetition and musical-refrain quality of the verse. The single end line is a conclusion, so tritina can be similar to a sonnet in that a turn can happen between lines 9 and 10.

Here is a wonderful example by David Yezzi: Tritina for Susannah

And here is a tritina by Marie Ponsot, so beautiful, called “Roundstone Cove.”

The wind rises. The sea snarls in the fog
far from the attentive beaches of childhood—
no picnic, no striped chairs, no sand, no sun.

Here even by day cliffs obstruct the sun;
moonlight miles out mocks this abyss of fog.
I walk big-bellied, lost in motherhood,

hunched in a shell of coat, a blindered hood.
Alone a long time, I remember sun—
poor magic effort to undo the fog.

Fog hoods me. But the hood of fog is sun.

--Marie Ponsot, from Springing, New and Selected Poems

Marie Ponsot, American poet, born 1921
Ready? Let’s try tritina! 1-2-3 and go!

18 comments:

Toni Spencer said...

So where is your tritina? I am not sure I am getting this and I would love to see your example.

Marian said...

Whew!
I find poems with this much repetition very difficult, though I suppose this is better for me than the longer forms like sestina. Still very challinging! Good luck, friends.

Toni Spencer said...

Your link brings us back to this post! Of course my computer is almost as old as I so that could be the problem as well.

Fireblossom said...

You're gonna break my brain. So, am I right in thinking that there is no syllable or word count? Just three lines with the given rhymes scheme?

Marian said...

Yes, that's right. Three stanzas, three lines each with the repeating words in the order shown, plus that last challenging line using all 3 words. No meter required, no syllable count or word count. Meter is suggested (of your choice) because the repetition can result in kind of a song-verse quality but is not required and I didn't follow any meter in mine. This is harder than I thought it might be. Yikes

Toni Spencer said...

You didn't try this out first? I have no problem with no rhyme or rhythm but the words at the end confuse me. This puts me in mind of the villain-nell. Which I hated.

Marian said...

I wrote a tritina. Try one, or don't, no obligation.

brudberg said...

I think I have tried it once before... will write one quick before bedtime

The Bizza said...

This was a tricky little form, but it was also fun. I think I see the appeal. The tricky part is finding new context to present the chosen words... but that's also the fun part.

Intriguing form here.

Kim Russell said...

As you can see, I got stuck in the un-fairytale groove, but I think it's still a tritina! I hope you've all had a great weekend!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thanks for this one, Marian. I love a poem based on repetition. If I have a small space in time, I definitely want to try it out.

rallentanda said...

This was fun. Love this form. Thank you for the intro Marian.

grapeling said...

Marian, not a chance I was getting this into any sort of meter. Ah well. Thanks for the prod/prompt ~

Fireblossom said...

I have said that my poem is an homage to another person's poem. Because that poem is freaking impossible to find--as is its author--I have added that poem to the bottom of my post if anyone wants to see it.

Outlawyer said...

Lovely prompt. I have done before but will see if I can do one today. All best. K.

D. Avery said...

Phew, that was a puzzled piece. I enjoyed the exercise. Thank you for the prompt.

Jim said...

This was n nice form to work with.
Fun, sort of like doing a puzzle.
Thank you, Marian. Keep finding.
..

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

I gave it a try- my first Tritina. Thanks for a challenging prompt.