Saturday, July 27, 2013

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Etheree(al)


© Diana Matisz, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Happy weekend, and welcome Toads and followers; hedgewitch here with a striking photo generously contributed by the gifted Diana Matisz,  and another obscure form to lay on your plates today. 

During the course of my time with the Imaginary Garden, many of our resourceful members and contributors, especially Kerry O'Connor, have introduced me to a wide variety of forms, mostly short, all challenging and almost all equally rewarding. I've been racking my brain for this mini-challenge, as the sheer abundance already presented here is (literally) formidable.

Kerry kindly supplied me with her compendium of forms from past articles, and it was daunting, but very helpful in eliminating multiple possibilities, leaving me pretty much back where I started, pulling out what few strands of hair I have left.

Then, while browsing through some of my older stuff, I found a form that I think has so far not been featured.  It's called the etheree, and is named after an Arkansas poet  about whom I could find almost zero information, Etheree Taylor Armstrong (1918-1994.)

The etheree is an unrhymed syllable counting form, relentlessly rational, and seemingly childishly simple. You begin with a first line of one syllable, and continue for ten lines increasing the syllable count by one each line. Diagramming in syllables, this is what you get,  line by line: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10.

That's it. (If you'd like to skip to the chase, just scroll down to the bolded blue section below for the nuts and bolts of the challenge.)

Sounds ridiculously easy, doesn’t it? No rhyme, no meter, no tricky iambs and such, just a few consecutive lines that are usually used to unfold a single thought or image. The etheree is often compared to a flower gradually opening. All I can say is, writing a serious one will give you new respect for the mechanics of flowers.  

The fun of this form is snapping words and syllables together like Legos, so play around and build something, and if ten lines aren't enough there are variants to explore, like repeating the pattern for multiple stanzas, even reversing it in a mirror image style (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, /10,9,8,7,,6,5,4,3,2,1.)

Here is an example of my first etheree, which some of you may remember:


liquid knots
ashen sorrel
all tied with shadow
melting in the mind wrap
rolling up the bruise of stones
the soft erasure, tumbled cells,
skull's last tears, falling where earth swallows
the small rain that runs off a concrete heart.

 ~April 2013
© joyannjones

The Challenge: Write an etheree as described above (a ten line poem with a focused theme, beginning with one syllable and adding a syllable per line till line ten is reached) or any variant of one. I know you can all count to ten, but for those to whom such syllable counting forms are unfriendly, I offer the option of writing to the word ethereal, and ask that you follow the spirit of the etheree by making your free verse example revolve around a single image or thought, not exceeding twenty lines.

The very talented photographer and poet Diana Matisz,(on flick'r as Avatress) of the blog Life Through Blue Eyes, has graciously given us permission to use her photo at the top of this page for illustrating the challenge. (Diana's work is also available for purchase in many forms at her Redbubble store.) Thanks so much, Diana!

If you decide to use this image, please include proper attribution and credit, as we always do for all our contributors here at IGWRT.  

Have at it, Toads! As always, the only caveats whether form or free verse, are that your submission be a new one written specifically for this challenge, and that you include a link back to the Garden. 


hedgewitch said...

Toads, I haven't written my own response yet, so feel free to let this one percolate!

Grace said...

Thank you for another form Hedge ~

I combined Corey's prompt with yours ~

Happy weekend to all ~

Kerry O'Connor said...

I think I wrote one of these many moons ago, and I am very happy to give it another try. Thanks, Hedge. I have been a little slow on the poetic up-take of late, so I will probably put in a few hours early Sunday morning when I have some peace and quiet!

Sayantini said...

Incredibly interesting topic for this week!! I am surely into it. Happy weekend all :)

Kay L. Davies said...

Ooh, I was thinking of doing what Grace did, because I haven't come up with anything useful for Corey's prompt yet.
Think, think, think.
But first, I'm late for a lunch date with friends.

Maude Lynn said...

Ooo, I bet this one is harder than it initially looks. I'm taking my turn on the bad back / heavily medicated list, but I'll see what I can string together.

Helen said...

Great challenge ...

Diana Lee said...

Thanks so much for considering my photo worthy of this wonderful form. I'm very honored :-)

Ella said...

Lovely glowing photo~ Love this idea-thanks Joy!

hedgewitch said...

Thanks all of you brave souls who have got the ball rolling--and thank you, Diana, for being so generous with your lovely shot of the moon.

I have mine written, finally but will let it sit overnight.

Hannah said...

Love this both form and image! Great fun thank you, Hedge!

grapeling said...

Peeked in, read all the contributions, which inspired me to pen a post. Thanks, hedgewitch, for the prompt, and all, for the spark. ~ M

Other Mary said...

Ack - it is harder than it looks!

Fireblossom said...

Gawd, FINALLY! This was hard for me, but I will never let my Witchy friend down!

Anonymous said...

Saw this on Facebook and had to jump in, hedge...I enjoy this form. This link is from first etheree.

Fireblossom said...

^^^the post asks specifically for a new poem, not a back post.

Susie Clevenger said...

A lovely challenge, but as usual a struggle for me. I must be drinking from a different well than the fabulous poets here. :(

hedgewitch said...

Thanks Shay, for making the ultimate sacrifice! I knew you could do it.

AFA Victoria's, it's very well done and an example of the form tripled and reversed, so I think we can make an exception for others to see how that works out--she hasn't posted with us before so she may not have caught that part, about a new piece. Thanks, Victoria.

Shay is correct though about our challenges being almost always intended to produce new writing, just for future reference, all. Open Link Monday is reserved for older poems if you are inclined to share them.

Susie--you did great. I don't think for a minute this is a simple or easy form. It's actually very hard to write a good one, imo.

I'm very happy with the quality of writing that this prompt has produced. It's a privilege to be associated with such a talented group. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Anonymous said...

Hedge, I love this prompt, because it's a form I can handle, you know. Sonnets? Mind-melters. I really look forward to the "ethereal" component in this challenge, too. Thanks! Love, Amy

LaTonya Baldwin said...

late to the party. Needed guidance and I found it among you. Mine is up. Thank you. Off to read and comment.

L. Edgar Otto said...

Not sure post got thru for the ten line form... limited access in library... hopefully back in wider access in august...

Susan said...

Late, Late, but here. I'm still on the road for another week. I'll catch up with everyone slowly.

Anonymous said...

I know my contribution is very late - what can I say except sorry.

Anonymous said...

I've been inspired by Sharp Little Pencil to have a go at this. Hope that's okay. You'll find it on my blog under the Poetry heading. Thank you.