Making it count (syllabic verse)

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the final day of the June Open Write at Ethical ELA. 

I shared syllabic verse:

My youngest son is a musician. When he was four or five he’d stand at a whiteboard easel making tally marks as he listened to cassettes of his favorite songs. When I asked what he was doing, he replied: “Counting the syllables.”

He meant beats. 

Like heartbeats, rhythms of life surround us. Let us listen and take note. Moments and words count…down to the last syllable. Last year I attended a workshop led by a poet who said: “Experiment with the rhythms of your voice. Find a syllable count that’s natural for you.” 

Process

Perhaps there’s a line of unwritten poetry playing in your mind, waiting for its moment. Now’s the time. Count the syllables. Maybe it’s five, eight, or iambic pentameter. Or simply begin by crafting a line that relates to something important to you (listen for it in the beatings of your heart) and count the syllables. 

Once you know the count, try writing the remainder of your lines with the same number of syllables. See where the beats take you.

Maybe play with more sound by incorporating internal rhyme, alliteration, and so on.

My poem, sparked by the words of a teacher during a memorable job interview, came out in lines of five syllables.

All in for the Kids

In the interview
the candidate said
we don’t get credit
for all we’ve endured
on behalf of kids
in these past two years

and apologized
for the sudden tears

surfacing from depths
immeasurable
a soul subjected
to intense pressure
somehow withstanding
high temperatures
beyond description

the weight of the world
in every teardrop
salt-worth far beyond
the rarest diamond

culminating crown
of love resounding
courage rebounding
in five wondrous words:
“I still want to teach”

*******

As the day progresses, I am savoring the poetry being posted over on Ethical ELA.

Every bit of it counts. In the end, I think that’s the poet’s job…showing just how much.

Every moment
every heartbeat
every today
all tomorrows
count forever

One thought on “Making it count (syllabic verse)

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