Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
Hurricane Season in Barbados. Are you ready for it? Click on Picture for Today's Weather Forecast.Have a super day come rain or shine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Comments on Univocalic Poetry

In Barbados there is this Westminster System of Parliament with a two-party system: The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) commonly known as the "Bees" and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) referred to as the "Dems". The Peoples Progressive Party (PeePeePee) has yet to be recognized as a party. This movement was formed by a member of the Democratic Labour Party who broke ranks to form this pressure movement. Members of this movement contest elections on an Independent ticket.

This party-switching or crossing the floor has taken place in the Parliamentary System of Government in Barbados in the past and most recently in this 21st Century. In Barbadian politics, crossing the floor means to leave one's political party and join another, or in more general sense, to vote against one's own party. Party-switching is the term most used in American politics, and means any change in party affiliation of a partisan public figure, usually one who is currently holding elected office; and connotes a transfer of held power from one party to another. In the United States' dominant two-party system, the switches generally occur between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, although the archives have revealed that there have also been a number of notable switches to and from third parties, and even between third parties. Documented party switchers in modern era politics of the United States show that the majority of switchers came from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the deep South. In New England, the Great Lakes states, and the coastal states switched from Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

Why do politicians abandon their loyalty even though they expect such from voters? When we look at the behavior of global political establishments their politicians behave in similar fashion as far as crossing the floor or party switching. Crossing the floor originated from the British House of Commons which is configured with the Government and Opposition facing each other on rows of benches as shown in the graphic image below.

Government Members                          Opposition Members

If a politician wishes to vote against the affiliated party that politician would need to literally cross the floor to get to the other lobby and if the Member of Parliament was to switch a party that MP would need to cross the floor.

Politicians who cross the floor or switch parties would have the populace believe that they did so from an ethical obligation, because they feel their views are no longer aligned with those of their current party. Some politicians cross the floor or switch their party for an opportunistic reason but they wouldn’t say it that way. The opportunistic politician usually belongs to a minority party and would cross the floor to join the majority party to gain the advantages of belonging to such a party. However, the most important reason why politicians switch or ditch their party is “to get elected". In your neck of the woods I'm sure you know or read about politicians who have crossed the floor or have switched their parties. In British political history, Winston Churchill crossed the floor from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party then crossed back to the Conservative Party.

That being said, I tend to believe that politicians share common characteristics: they expect absolute loyalty from voters at the polls, and think ceaselessly about the next election cycle. An example of a notable switch in Barbadian politics is Sir Errol Walton Barrow for much nobler causes, for which his legacy has given much reasons to rejoice as we celebrate forty-four year of Independence. His legacy has peeled away the narcissistic clock that tends to dog politicians for a true Statesmanship robe. We are so very proud of the contributions made by the "Father of our Independence". His stewardship has revealed, that as an elected officer, he fervently thought about the generations to come, and placed certain mechanisms in place which the now generations enjoy, and for which previous generations had no such good fortune. A fixation on the next election cycle was not his forte and that showed the true mark of a statesman; the highest rank in the political arena. Sir Errol Walton Barrow, the statesman did this as he captained the "Ship of State" during his lifetime.

This crossing of the floor phenomenon provided the inspiration to write these two poems "Dems Bees” and "Yes, Yes, Yes”. The composition took place in the parish of St James South, Barbados on September 15, 2007 during the 'silly season' when Barbadians were gearing up for their General Election show down by the Barbados Labour Party (The Bees), the Barbados Democratic Party (The Dems) and the Peoples Progressive Party (PeePeePee). In my bag of "constrained writing" you would have read alphabetic poetry written in forms such as the Acrostic, Abecedarian, Diastic, Mesostich, and Telestich. This latest insertion in the bag of "constrained writing" takes the form of Univocalic poetry. Of course, there are many other forms of constrained writing in poetry but the comments here only touched on a few such types. So what is constrained writing.

Constrained writing is a literary technique in which the writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern. This technique is very popular in poetry which often requires the poet to use a particular verse form.

The language of English has five vowels: a e i o u. I'm thinking now of a special type of constrained poetic writing that uses only one vowel-letter, i.e. only uses one of these vowels: a e i o u. It is called Univocalic Poetry. C C Bombaugh in 1890 wrote one of the best known Univocalic that used only the vowel "o". Here is an excerpt from Bombaugh's poetry:

No cool monsoon bow on Oxford dons,
Orthodox, jog-trot, bookworm Solomons

Eunoia is Univocalic poetry written by the Canadian poet, Christian Bok. This poetry book emerged at the beginning of the 21st Century. In Chapter I for Dick Higgins all the lines use only the vowel "i" as shown in the excerpt below.

Writing is inhibiting. Sighing, I sit, scribbling in Ink
This pidgin script. I sing with nihilistic witticism,
Disciplining signs with trifling gimmicks - impish
Hijinks which highlight stick sigils. Isn't it glib?

The poems, "Dems Bees" and “Yes Yes Yes" are Univocalic poetry that make use only of the vowel "e" that jabs at Barbadian politics.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Comments on "Felony before Terror"

The poem “Felony before Terror” is written in the form of a Double Acrostic Mesostich. It was composed on August 6, 2009 at Cassia Drive, Barbados.

The title of the poem is made up of three words. Acrostics were form from the first and last words in the title and the Mesostich from the middle word in the title. The Acrostic appears on the left and right sides of the poem’s lines of verses and the Mesostich at the middle point of these same lines of verses. This poem is made up of fifty-seven words with a syllable count of eighty-five as shown in the three-column table below.

Right Side                                         Middle point       Left Side

Fires on bush put                              brave                   those souls to the test                 
5 syllables                                          1 syllable              5 syllables   = 11 syllables
(4 words)                                          (1 word)                 (5 words)      (10 words)

eager suicide bombers                     everywhere          minds overflow with evil
7 syllables                                          3 syllables            7 syllables   =  17 syllables
(3 words)                                           (1 word)                (4 words)       (8 words)

leaving plenty dreadful acts to         fall                          in the snow and thunderous rain;
8 syllables                                        1 syllable                8 syllables   =  17 syllables
(5 words)                                         (1 word)                 (6 words)      (12 words)        

obstructing the rightful                      ownership                comes from those angry rogues
6 syllables                                            3 syllables                6 syllables   = 15 syllables 
(3 words)                                             (1 word)                    (5 words       (9 words)     

nagging, in demonic                         reckless                    mindset does overflow             
6 syllables                                          2 sylables                 6 syllables      = 14 syllables 
(3 words)                                           (1 word)                   (3 words)          (7 words)

year-round, CIA                              eyes                           sieve through tuff rumors
5 syllables                                        1 syllable                   5 syllables      =  11 syllables
(5 words)                                       (1 word)                    (4 words)             10 words

For guidelines on how to write the Double Acrostic click on this link and for the Mesostich guidelines click on this link.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comments on Haiti's Holler

The recording of the date, time and place when a poem is completed does matter. In so doing, this helps when the poem undergoes critical analysis. That being said, I composed this poem “Haiti’s Holler” in Double Acrostic on May 20, 2010 at Cassia Drive, Husbands Terrace, St. James South, Barbados. Click on this Link for guidelines for writing a Double Acrostic poem. Much grieving, bewilderment and sadness still blanketed folks as daily news unfolded through all kinds of media and graphic pictures fed the eyes of those daring to look at such. This poem reflects some of the moods and moves at that time that drew attention to natural disasters and dire consequences when Mother Nature retaliates from years of plundering and scraping of her intestines to satisfy corporate greed.

The title of this poem is very explicit as it rolls itself into the first lines of verses one recognizes that the explicit point to the earthquake that unleashed its fury on Haiti. On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 an earthquake of a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw, occurred in Haiti. Its epicentre was near the town of Léogâne approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the Capital of Haiti. By January 24, 2010 reports stated that at least fifty-two aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian Government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. They also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. The earthquake caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other settlements in the region. Many notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot, and opposition leader Micha Gaillard. Hédi Annabi.

Many countries responded to appeals for humanitarian aid, pledging funds and dispatching rescue and medical teams, engineers and support personnel. Communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts; confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with prioritisation of flights further complicated early relief work. Port-au-Prince's morgues were quickly overwhelmed with many tens of thousands of bodies having to be buried in mass graves. On January 22, 2010 the United Nations noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation was drawing to a close, and on January 23, 2010 the Haitian government officially called off the search for survivors.

Ten months after the earthquake struck Haiti, life is returning to normal but at a snail's pace. As at the writing of this, a new wave of destruction has swept over what is left in Haiti; the deadly scourge of cholera has broken out and has claimed hundreds of lives.

The fifth line of verse in this poem alludes to the sequence of events that fell from Iceland Eyjafyallajökull volcano. This seismic activity increased on March 20, 2010 and continued on to April 14, 2010 and into May. The Eyjafyallajökull volcano ejected into the air an estimated 250 million cubic metres of tephra. The ash plume rose to a height of approximately 30, 000 ft (9 kilometres) which rates the explosive power of the eruption as a 4 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. The behaviour of the Eyjafyallajökull volcano caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe due to the ash mist that blackened skies and was so reluctant to move away. According to reports, due to the large quantities of dry volcanic ash lying on the ground, surface winds frequently lifted up an "ash mist" that significantly reduced visibility and made observation of the activity of the volcano through web camera impossible.

The last line verse of the poem strikes a familiar chord that everywhere around the globe disaster shows its unwanted head on a chain of events natural or man-made. The closing line of verse points to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill which is referred to by such names as the BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, BP Oil Disaster and the Macondo Blowout. This oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico flowed for three months in 2010. It started on April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded killing eleven workers and injured seventeen others. On July 15, 2010 the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead after releasing into the Gulf of Mexico and estimated 53, 000 barrels per day of crude oil. On September 19, 2010 the relief well process was successfully completed and the Federal Government of the United States of America declared the well "effectively dead" but with far reaching consequences.

The oil spill caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats; as well as to the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries. Skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades along shorelines were used in an attempt to protect hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The United States Government has named British Petroleum (BP) as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage. After its own internal probe, BP admitted that it made mistakes which led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has become the largest in United States of America's history.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ego-less and Deterministic Poetry

Ego-less poetry is just what it is…not egocentric. Poets from the western tradition use objects as a mode to express their intellectual sentiments using a variety of poetic devices. Looking at a field of growing okras, the poet would never say, for example “okras are in bloom ready to be harvested” or in some other simple way, but will use imagery sensors to plant images in the mind’s eye of readers by probably saying “okras are pregnant from the electrifying rays of the sun, the pattering rain gleefully massaging their feet in sodden shoes with the whispering sounds of the wind in their thanksgiving dance”. So, instead of calling a spade a spade, poets from the western tradition make use of various poetic devices such as similes, metaphors, personification and symbolism for their embellishment fix. These various poetic techniques allow these poets to inject themselves within the composition whether directly or through the “voice” or persona assigned to articulate the muse.

Ego-less poetry thrives on the concept of Zen that espouses the idea that objects should be seen in their true nature and not be distorted for one’s own self-centered gratification. This overarching use of romanticism in poetry is what propels egotistic gratification. Ego-less poetry would have none of that thus avoiding the use of “self” or “I” in any form or fashion in its chance or deterministic creations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that poetry embellishment is a bad idea. On the contrary, I cannot imagine myself feasting on poetry without its seasoning and garnishes. Do you? As a side-dish, to balance the diet, ego-less poetry rises to the occasion by not putting the poet as the centre of gravity but rather as a by-stander.

Ego-less poetry is to be found in Japanese forms of poetry such as the Haiku and Senyru and in the poetry of the American poet, performance artist, composer and playwright Jackson Mac Low. He is no longer here with us in this 21st century. He died on December 8, 2004.

This diverse poet, Jackson Mac Low never referred to his poetry as “chance poetry" although other readers of his poetry did. The Dada movement of Western Europe the early and middle years of the last century in such writers as Louis Aragon and Tristan Tzara, just to mention a couple Dadaists described their creations as “chance poetry" because they used chance operations to create their poetry. It is a method of generating poetry independent of the poet’s will. A “chance operation” can be almost anything like throwing the dice, bingo or using the computer. Most poems created by chance operations use some form of “parent text” as their source. The source can be a clipping from the newspaper, magazine, poem or whatever. The purpose behind this approach is to play against the poet’s intentions and ego, while creating unusual syntax and images. The resulting poems allow the reader to take part in producing meaning from the work.

Even though Jackson Mac Low’s egoless poetry relied on a Parent Text to populate the Seed Text with his two methods, namely the Diastic reading-through procedure and the Acrostic reading-through procedure and his knowledge of the workings of computer programs that gave much inspiration he never described his creations as Chance poetry although Chance poetry uses similar platforms. He insistently referred to his brand of poetry as “deterministic” because of his use of “matched asymmetries”.

What is there to uncover about Jackson Mac Low’s brand of poetry?

With a clear understanding of computer-based applications and the knack for modifying those to suit his person Mac Low created two approaches to writing his deterministic poetry swimming in the egoless sea. A cursory analysis of his poetic creations suggests that he was not seeking answers to aleatoric and egoless forms of poetry. He was more concerned with experimenting with the various forms of computerized application programs to find out what would be the outcome when a particular algorithm was introduced into poetry. His focus was to empirically invent techniques of artistic production meeting certain criteria. The outcome of this experiment in poetry is found in two methods he created:

1.  Acrostic reading-through non-intentional text-selection procedures.

2. The Diastic reading-through non-intentional text-selection procedures. 

These two methods rely on a Source Text and a Seed Text. He employed these poetry generation techniques from April 1960 until January 1963. No doubt with the widespread use of computers in this 21st century his poetic technique has the potential of reaching even greater heights in modernistic poetry. However, the focus of this discussion is on his "Acrostic reading-through non-intentional text-selection procedures. So let's get started.

Here is how Mac Low described his Acrostic Method of Deterministic Poetry. The writer reads through a Source Text and finds successively words, phrases, sentence fragments, sentences, and or other linguistic units that have the letters of the Seed Text as their initial letters. I used this technique to produce the poem “Digging Up Earth" ( The next three crucial steps in the process are to identify them:

1. Source Text:
The 2010 Copiapó mining accident occurred on 5 August 2010, when part of the San José              copper-gold mine near Copiapó, Chile collapsed, leaving 33 men trapped deep below ground the miners survived underground for a record 68 to 69 days. All 33 were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October 2010, with the first miner emerging from the Fénix 2 rescue capsule at 00:10 CLDT and the last at 21:55 CLDT. After the last trapped miner was winched to the surface, the rescue workers held up a sign stating "Misión cumplida Chile" English: Mission accomplished Chile to the estimated more than 1 billion people watching the rescue on live television around the world.

The San José Mine is about 45 kilometers (28 mi) north of Copiapó, in northern Chile. The miners were trapped at approximately 700 meters (2,300 ft) deep and bout 5 kilometers 3 mi from the mine entrance. The mine had a history of instability that had led to previous accidents, including death.

The retrieval of the first miner, Florencio Avalos, began on Tuesday, 12 October at 23:55 CLDT, with the rescue capsule reaching the surface 16 minutes later. By 21:55 CLDT on 13 October, all 33 miners had been rescued, almost all in good medical condition and expected to recover fully. Two miners were suffering from silicosis, one of whom also had pneumonia, and others were suffering from dental infections and corneal problems. Three of the rescued miners had immediate surgery under general anesthetics for dental problems.

The total cost of the rescue operation was estimated between US$10–20 million; a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government itself.

2.  Seeds Extracted from Source Text to Populate the poem ""Digging Up           Earth" as follows:

     The, Accident, August, part, of, gold, near, trapped, deep, ground,  history              underground, a, record, days, All, rescued, emerging, rescue, at, After, held,         up, English, accomplished, estimated, than, people, television, around, is,             about, in, northern, deep, entrance, instability, that, had, to, previous,                     accidents, including, death, retrieval, Avalos, Tuesday, rescue, reaching, tall,         and, expected,  recover, two, also,  pneumonia, dental, infections, under,               general, anesthetics,  third, donations, rest, government, itself.
3. Select a theme or title for the Seed Text poem as follows:
    Digging Up Earth

4. Compose the Poem

    Digging Up Earth
    Deep . in ground. gold . is . northern . gold
    Underground  . problems
    English . all . round . trapped . history
    Dig . immediate . gold. gold . in . northern .  ground
    Up . people.
    Even . a . rescue. Tuesday . had

    Dozens . in . gold . government . instability . near . ground
    Ugly . part
    Every . accomplished . rescue . two . held

    Deep . in . ground . government . instability . northern . gold
    Underground . problems
    Every. August . record . third . held

    Death . itself . gold . ground . infection . near . general
    Ultimately. pneumonia
    Even . Avalos . retrieval . television . held

    Donation. is. good . general . infections . near . ground
    Underlying part
    Emerging . accident . retrieval . Tuesday . history

    Dental . infections . ground . gold . in . near . general  
    Under . people 
    Emerging . all . round . trapped . history

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comments on Prayer

This poem “Prayer” was written on September 15, 2007 at Cassia Drive, St. James South, Barbados. It was my birthday. It takes the form of an Acrostic Reversed-Telestich in Free Verse. In reversing the forward movement of the Telestich portion of the Acrostic poem, to that of a backward motion is what created the Reversed-Telestich.

Looking at the poem, at first glance, it looks like metered poetry, but it is not. A closer look at the poem would reveal that it does not conform to established patterns of meter, rhyme and stanza.

The poems “Heroes” and “Prayer” take the form of the Acrostic Reversed-Telestich. Here are some guidelines to help you compose your first Acrostic Reversed-Telestich poem:

Firstly, make the decision as to what style you will write the Acrostic Reversed-Telestich; whether in the traditional form or in Free Verse.

Select a title for the Acrostic Reversed-Telestich. Let’s say you selected the title “Heroes”. Bearing in mind that the Reversed-Telestich starts at the end of each line of verse with that word whose last letter in reverse as shown in the graphic map below:

Acrostic side of the Poem .............. Reversed-Telestich Side of the Poem

H ...................................................... s
e ....................................................... e
r ....................................................... o
o ....................................................... r
e ....................................................... e
s ....................................................... h

Start composing the lines of verses for the poem, now that you know where the starting points are for the Acrostic and for the Reversed-Telestich sides of the poem.

At the beginning of the first line of verse, begin with the first letter in the title. Continue on this line of verse until you reach the end point and use a word that has the last letter of the title.

At the beginning of the second line of verse, begin with the second letter of title; at the end of this same line of verse, use a word that has the next last letter of the title. Continue this sequence for the remaining verses of your poem.

You can follow this procedure for any title you come up with for your Acrostic Reversed-Telestich poem.

Read your completed poem aloud, check for errors and correct any errors found.

Comments on "Heroes"

It was a cloudy day with no rain and a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius on October 10, 2010 when I wrote this short poem "Heroes" at my Cassia Drive home in St. James South on the coral island of Barbados. The poem is in the form of an Acrostic Reversed-Telestich with Tetrameter verses. This alphabetic poem is flagged under the category of “Heroism”.

Do you think that contemporary society has overuse the word “hero” for what might be easily construed as being a “good Samaritan”? Do you consider great explorers and sports-people to be heroes? Would this definition of a hero help you to make up your mind?

Bravery is usually the biggest trait of all heroes (male and female). Such persons have overcome huge obstacles to survive and to rescue others. Such persons accept the call to adventure and have overcome perils in a manner that requires courage and sacrifice in a way that benefits society in some recognizable way. Every person at sometime or other is constantly searching for a hero because a hero is someone that inspires you to lift yourself from your boot-string as it were for the greater good to self and to others.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Comments on Good Friday

This acrostic Telestich poem “Good Friday” was composed at Cassia Drive, Husbands Terrace, St. James South on the island of Barbados on October 8, 2010. At first glance, you’ll think the poem is about the religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary, but it is not. The imagery of this short poem written in pentameter verses gives clues to a business management concept of budgeting, and uses the home environment as its launching pad as it were.

The word budget is derived from a French word for purse. Generally, a budget is a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is one’s plan for saving and spending the money earned or gifted. A budget is a very important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more commodities. A good definition for the term budget is the organizational plan stated in monetary terms.

What is the real purpose served by budgeting? There are two very important aspects to the budget plan: It provides a forecast of revenue and expenditure, that is, it constructs a model of how a business entity might perform financially, if certain strategies, events and plans are utilized. It actually enables the financial operations of the business to be measured against the forecast.

Do you believe households can benefit from personal budgeting? There are components from the business model of budgeting from which families and individuals can reap benefits. While budgeting is not the panacea for solving immediate financial problems, the wise management of one’s money will serve one well for years. Budgeting is worthwhile when considering the best use of one’s finances and one does not have to be a scrooge to do so.

Do you know which department prepares the United States Federal Budget, and who directs the Treasury to prepare the Budget for the United Kingdom? For sure, I know that the Ministry of Finance prepares the Budget for Barbados.

The poems “Good Friday” and “Treasures” which no doubt you have read by now, are written the form of the Acrostic Telestich. Here are some guidelines to help you compose your first Acrostic Telestich poem:

Firstly, make the decision as to what style you will write the Acrostic Telestich; whether in the traditional form or in Free Verse.

Select a title for the Acrostic Telestich, preferably a dual title is much better, but a single title could work as well. Let’s say you selected the title “Good Friday”. Select Good for the Acrostic side of the poem and Friday for the Telestich part of the poem. This procedure is shown on the map below, bearing in mind that the Telestich starts at the end of each line of verse with that word whose last letter ends with (f).

Good Friday

Acrostic Side .................... Telestich side
G………………..……………… f ...... (e.g. reef)
o………………..……………… r........ (prayer)
o………………..……………… i......... (kai)
d………………..………………d........ (deed)
………………………………... a......... (ameba)
……………………………… …y......... (theory)

If you decided on a single title for your Acrostic Telestich poem, for example ”Morning” the procedural map looks like this


Acrostic Side.............. Telestich Side
M………………..……..… m ....... (e.g. balm)
o………………………….. o ........ (e.g. ago)
r…………………………... r ........ (e.g. air)
n………………………….. n ........ (e.g. noon)
i…………………………... i ......... (e.g. kauri)
n…………………………..n ........ (e.g. fan)
g…………………………. g ......... (e.g. running)

Start composing the lines of verses for the poem, now that you know where the starting points are for the Acrostic and Telestich sides of the poem.

At the beginning of the first line of verse, begin with the first letter in the first word- title (in this example, the title is “Good Friday”) the first word-title is “Good” and the first letter is “G”. Continue on this line of verse until you reach the end point and use a word that has as its last letter “f” which is the first letter of the second word-title (in the example, the title is “Good Friday”) so the second word-title is “Friday”.

At the beginning of the second line of verse, begin with the second letter “o” from the first word-title; at the end of this same line of verse, use a word that has as its last letter “r” which is the second letter in the second word-title.

At the beginning of the third line of verse, begin with the third letter “o” from the first word-title; at the end of this same line of verse, use a word that has as its last letter “i” which is the third letter in the second word-title.

At the beginning of the fourth line of verse, begin with the fourth letter “d” from the first word-title, this completes the Acrostic segment of the poem; now focus on completing the Telestich second of the poet by going to the end of this same line of verse, use a word that has as its last letter “d” which is the fourth letter in the second word-title.

At the end of the fifth line of verse use a word that has as its last letter “a” which is the fifth letter in the second word-title.

At the end of the sixth line of verse use a word that has as its last letter “y” which is the sixth letter in the second word-title.

You can follow this procedure for any title you have for your Acrostic Telestich poem.

Read your completed poem aloud, check for errors and correct any errors found.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Comments on "Valentine's Day"

The poem “Saint Valentine’s Day was composed at Husbands Terrace, St. James South, Barbados on February 7, 2009. Saint Valentine event, though not a public holiday in Barbados, this fact does not diminish its impact on the general consciousness of Barbadians of all walks of life.

Barbados was once a British colony so whatever transpired in England found its way to our shores, and being called "Little England" said it all. Traditions handed down from England still hold true even though Barbados looks after its own affairs since 1966.

Here is a little history and myths about Saint Valentine’s Day. According to British history, Henry V was one of the great warrior kings of medieval England. He was very much loved by his subjects. He was born September 16, 1387. His father was King Henry IV (Bolingbroke) and Mary Bohun, daughter of the Earl of Hereford was his mother. He was their eldest son.

The Prince of Wales, for that was his title before he became King Henry V, fought many wars successfully. He was adept with the bow and arrow. He became King of England at the tender age of twenty-six in 1413. However, he was very experienced in raging and fighting wars from a very early age. His expansionist ideas moved him into recapturing the lands in France held by his ancestors, and laid claim to the French throne. His fame skyrocketed with his victory against the French at the Battle of Agincourt, a chapter in his life immortalized in Shakespeare's play. This battle led the French into agreeing to the Treaty of Troyes in May 1420. Thus, he was recognized as heir to the French throne and he married Catherine, the daughter of the French king, Charles VI of France. This marriage was an important part of the alliance agreed to with the Burgundians, culminating in the Treaty of Troyes which recognized King Henry V as heir to the French Throne.

King Henry V returned to England with Catherine after a period of three and a half years in 1421. In June he returned to France and died suddenly on
31 August 1422. By the way, his nine month old son succeeded him as King Henry VI and John Lydgate continued his close association with the new King of England, Henry VI in like manner he had with his father, King Henry V.

Before the Prince of Wales ascended to the throne of England he met
John Lydgate. Lydgate studied at Gloucester College, the Benedictine house at Oxford. The Prince of Wales recognized Lydgate's potential as a Lancastrian propagandist. Before he became King Henry V a year later, in 1412 he commissioned John Lydgate to work on his "Troy Book" (1412-1420). It was a translation and expansion of "Guido delle Colonne' Historia destructionis Troiae". This was the Prince of Wales' way of ensuring that the great epic about the Trojan War would live on as it were in "oure tonge". By literary circles, the "Troy Book" is rarely viewed as an epic, per se, but rather a collection of information about the political and moral counsel laced with mythical thought that linked England with Troy.

Lydgate's poetic structure has some semblance of the Chaucerian iambic pentameter verses, but varied in some cases by Lydgate's improvised poetic devices as the structure demanded. John Lydgate who was in addition to being a writer, poet, translator was a Benedictine monk and rose to the rank of a Benedictine Priest. He was educated at the Benedictine Monastery of Bury St. Edmund's. The archives shows the year of his birth at 1370 but I'm hard pressed to find the months of his birth and death. However, the records do show that he died in 1451.

Essentially one could not be wrong in saying that King Henry V looked upon John Lydgate as his Poet Laureate. Why, we have the historical framework that shows King Henry V employed him to be his writer, translator and poet. John Lydgate was a prolific poet and wrote many love poems. Hence, it would be no fallacy in believing that Prince of Wales soon to be King Henry V of England instructed Lydgate to write for him love letters, poems and notes. Throughout the time he was engaged in wars with France and courting Catherine Valois, the daughter of the French King, Charles VI it is purported that he instructed John Lydgate to write a love note and send it to her on Valentine's Day. One might well say that this act of King Henry V triggered the practice of sending love notes to friends and loved ones on February 14, handed down from medieval times and still persists in the 21st Century.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles Duke of Orleans, the grandson of Charles V of France to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

The greeting which was written in 1415 is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.

In England, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. Then, by the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged - so typical of the Victorian Era. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings.

So yes, Barbadians each year embrace this day of love and romance. Students across the island find themselves busy preparing their valentines to be distributed to shut-ins on Valentine's Day along with the many red roses they will be handing out. Schools do have their Valentine's Day project well organized. Across the island stores are well stocked with all types of candy, chocolates, red roses and gifts for all types of shoppers for their various valentines. There are many valentine fetes organized by various social groups, religious organizations, individuals and lovers, all in the name of Saint Valentine. Who is this mysterious Saint and why do we celebrate this holiday.

History does not give any guarantee as to the origin of Valentine's Day. There is the consensus though, that the history of Valentine's Day and its patron Saint - is shrouded in mystery. What is known is that February has long been acclaimed the month of romance and goes back to a pagan festival known as Lupercalia. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleaned by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout the interior. Lupercalia, which began at the Ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman funders Romulus and Remus. The festival got on its way when members of the luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome were believed to have been cared for by lupa, a she-wolf.

The priests sacrificed a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys sliced the goats hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets; gently they slapped both women and fields of crops with the goat-hide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. The legend goes on to say that later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial which probably occurred around 270 A.D, others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. Now the puzzling questions in your mind perhaps are these. Who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? We do know though, that even today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus all of whom were martyred. However, we are again left with a number of legends. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men--his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Another legend would have it that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

This other legend about Valentine states that Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl--who may have been his jailer's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and most importantly, romantic icon. It is perhaps no surprise that by the middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular Saints in England and France.

Seven days before Saint Valentine’s Day, this Acrostic on “Saint Valentine’s Day” was written. It has non-standard pentameter verses and end-rhymes. When rhyming words come at the end of verses, they are called end-rhymes.

Pentameter verse has five iambic feet. The imagery of this poem does not give off a romantic spell but the dark stench of bloody love—love not returned in good measure but abuse.

Imagery is the representation through language of the senses that poets use to plant mind pictures. There are seven different kinds of imagery: auditory, gustatory, kinesthetic, olfactory, organic, tactile and visual. Poets use these imagery sensors to plant images in the mind’s eye.

Examples of the different kinds of imagery taken from poems taken from poetrynest are shown below; click on the links to read each poem.

Types of Imagery

1. Auditory
... Sound:

You scrape the kernels' ear
Because each has a big eye that will pop

2. Gustatory
... Taste:

Sweet tooth capped to prevent its deadly wound
Drops of Taukau
honey fell from the jar

3. Kinestetic
... Movement or Tension:

Flinging words like flying feathers
Rain drops
fell from eyes of Payne

4. Olfactory
... A smell:
Where foul scents abode
Heaps of carrion fumes
perfumed the sky

5. Organic
... Internal sensation: fear, fatigue, thirst, hunger

The stillness haunts the lonely night,
Heavy rain keeps pouring down on the throng
Floods are everywhere in Poverty Bay.

6. Tactile
... Touch, for example: hardness, softness, wetness, heat, cold

Oh Rose! You cling and climb with flair
Two spirited harts meshed so very well

7. Visual
... in the mind's eye:

As nervous trees waved in the breeze
Of lines and curves of dangling sticky threads

Friday, October 1, 2010

Comments on "Mothers' Day"

This poem “Mothers’ Day” was composed at Cassia Drive in St. James South, Barbados in 2008. It is in the form of an Acrostic made up of a septet stanza and a tercet stanza. A septet is a stanza of seven verses. A tercet is a stanza of three verses. The poem contains end rhymes forming a rhyme scheme aabccbd aab. It has tetrameter verses. However, the analysis of the verses shows that no particular pattern of meter dominates the verses. So in the poem you'll see verses further described as Trochaic tetrameter and iambic tetrameter measuring 4 feet as shown in Exhibit #1.

Exhibit #1
Graphic Scansion of the poem, "Mothers' Day

Many<>pros and<>cons, tag<>parents;
Trochee..... Trochee .........Trochee .......... Trochee
... /u ............./u .........│ ...... /u ..........│...... /u ...│
............ 1 .................... 2 .................... 3 .............. 4 ..Trochaic Tetrameter

onus<>on moth<>ers to<>bear fruits
Trochee ....... Iamb ............... Pyrrhic ............. Spondee
../u ....... │...... u/ ................│...uu ..........│.......... // ......... │
.............. 1 ......................... 2 ................. 3 ........................ 4 ....Tetrameter

the Cre<>ator<>placed on<>us, his
.. Pyrrhic ..Trochee ... Trochee ........ Pyrrhic
.... uu ......│.... /u ......... /u ............. ... uu .....│
............... 1 ........... 2 ...................... 3 ............ 4 .....Tetrameter

heaven<>ly en<>dowed port<>manteau;
..Trochee .. Pyrrhic ..... Trochee ........... Trochee
.... u/ ......│... uu ...│........ /u ............│...... /u .......│
............... 1 .......... 2 ......................... 3 ................ 4 ....Trochaic Tetrameter

even<>Adam<>wore it<> to sow…
Trochee ..Trochee ... Trochee ...... Iambic
..... /u......... /u ... ..... /u .................u/ .............
........... 1 .............. 2 .............. 3 ........................... 4 ...... Trochaic Tetrameter

respect<>your mom<>,Benedict<>said it's
Trochee.......... Pyrrhic ....... Amphibrach .... Trochee
.... /u ...... │..... uu ............│........... u/u ... ......... /u ....│
............... 1 ...................... 2 .....................3 ................. 4 .... Tetrameter

Sacred<>,to cath<>olic<>decree;
Trochee ....... Pyrrhic ..Trochee ...Trochee
.... /u ......│...... u u .....│.. / u ........... / u │....
............... 1................. 2 ......... 3 ............ 4 .....Trochaic Tetrameter

Drawn to<>passions'<>bed we<>do wed
..Trochee .......... Trochee ... ... Trochee ....... Spondee
..... / u .........│....... / u ........│....... / u .....│..... / / ...... │
.................... 1 .................... 2 ................ 3 ................ 4 ..Trochaic Tetrameter

and Jor<>dan floods<>the Dead<>Sea bed
...Iambic........... Iambic ............ Iambic ......... Spondee
..... u / ..... │ ........ u / ......... │....... u / ........ │ .... / / .......│
................ 1......................... 2 .................... 3 ................ 4 ...Iambic Tetrameter

yearly<>since, Ma<>ry birth<>us Christ
Trochee ........ Iambic .......... Iambic ......... Iambic
... /u ......│ ...... u/ ......... │....... u/ ....... ...... u/ ......... │
..............1...................... 2 .................. 3 .................... 4 ....Iambic Tetrameter

In English poetry, measurement places emphasis on stressed and unstressed syllables and this type of measurement is described as accentual-syllabic meter, in which every syllable counts to create the proper rhythm and flow of the meter. Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporary of poets are credited for the fusion of the accentual of English and the syllabic of French into modern English accentual-syllabic forms.

Meter means measurement of the verse length. Foot is the unit of such measurement; hence the measuring instrument is known as the metric foot. In ancient Greece during poetry chants, chanters danced to the rhythmic flow of poetry verses with their feet so this tradition of using feet as the measurement tool in poetry came about.

Let’s look at the words (attack), (beginner) and the phrase (her health) as examples.

The word (attack) has two like consonant letters (tt), the syllable before the double consonant is usually stressed. Hence, in the word (attack) the first syllable (at) is stressed and the second syllable (tack) is unstressed. The graphic scanning of the word (attack) looks like this:

. /... u ... ... trochaic monometer

and therefore measures one foot and the symbolic representation of this particular pattern of the English foot is called a trochaic monometer. Exhibit #2 gives a listing of these various patterns in the English poetic foot.

Exhibit #2
English Metrication Symbols

u/ ........ Iamb
u/u ...... Amphibrach
uu/ ...... Anapest
/u ..........Trochee
/uu ....... Dactyl
// .......... Spondee
uu.......... Pyrrhic

These are the most common types found in English poems. I wished blogger was user friendly when it comes to tables and charts. Use is made of leader dots to prevent the scrambling of these symbols all over the blog.

A vertical line like this (│) in graphic scansion is called the counter. The counter marks the location where every foot ends on the lines of verse. The phrase (her health) has an unstressed word (syllable) and a stressed word (syllable). A phrase is a group of words that does not have both a subject and a predicate and therefore cannot stand as a clause or a sentence. The graphic scansion of this phrase (her health) looks like this:

her health
. u ... / ..... ... iambic monometer

This graphic scansion of the phrase (her health) shows that the first word (syllable) is unstressed and the second word (syllable) is stressed and therefore measures one foot making this particular symbolic pattern an iambic monometer verse.

Why is it an iambic monometer verse?

When a metrical foot in English poetry is made up of one unstressed syllable (u) followed by one stressed (/) syllable it is called an iambic foot. The English derivative of the word iambic is iamb. Exhibit #3 shows the symbolic representation of the various English poetic feet.

Exhibit #3
English Metrication

Monometer is a line of verse measuring 1 foot

Dimeter is a line of verse measuring 2 feet

Trimeter is a line of verse measuring 3 feet

Tetrameter is a line of verse measuring 4 feet

Pentameter is a line of verse measuring 5 feet

Hexameter is a line of verse measuring 6 feet

Heptameter is a line of verse measuring 7 feet

Octameter is a line of verse measuring 8 feet

Nonameter is a line of verse measuring 9 feet

Decameter is a line of verse measuring 10 feet

Why does the graphic scansion of the phrase “her health” shows and unstressed symbol for “her”?

Let’s bear in mind that English stress content words. Nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs are considered content words. Pronouns, articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions are considered Function words. Function words are quickly glided over in speech hence the reason why they carry the unstressed label. These principles are applied as well in accentual-syllabic meter. This quality of quickly gliding over less important words is also known as connected speech. In my cursory analysis of English words with two syllables the stressed syllable seems to fall on the first syllable.

The word (beginner) has two like consonant letters (nn), the syllable before the double consonant is usually stressed. Hence, in the word (beginner) the first syllable (be) is unstressed, the second syllable (gin) is stressed and the last syllable (ner) is unstressed. The graphic scanning of the word (beginner) looks like this

..u . /.... u
Amphibrach u/u

It measures one foot in the pattern of the Amphibrach.

The iamb is the most common metrical foot in English and other languages as well. The iambic and anapestic meters are called rising meters because their sound rises from unstressed to stressed. Trochee and dactylic meters are called the falling meters and this is so because their sound falls from stressed to unstressed. The anapest and the dactyl are bouncing meters and in the twentieth century they were very popular in comic verses than for serious poetry. The spondee still measures a foot even thought it has one sound that is stressed, and so is the pyrrhic with one sound that is unstressed. They are never used as the sole meter of a poem. Wherever the spondee and the pyrrhic are found in the verse, they provide the complementary role of lending emphasis and variety to a meter especially the iambic rhythmic verses.

Metrical verses are named according to the constituent foot and for the number of feet in the line of verse. So what we have got is this listing where a:

Monometer measuring 1 iambic foot is called an Iambic Monometer

Dimeter measuring 2 iambic feet is called an Iambic Dimeter

Trimeter measuring 3 iambic feet is called an Iambic Trimeter

Tetrameter measuring 4 iambic feet is called an Iambic Tetrameter

Pentameter measuring 5 iambic feet is called an Iambic Pentameter

Hexameter measuring 6 iambic feet is called an Iambic Hexameter

Heptameter measuring 7 iambic feet is called an Iambic Heptameter

Octameter measuring 8 iambic feet is called an Iambic Octameter

Nonameter measuring 9 iambic feet is called an Iambic Nonameter

Decameter measuring 10 iambic feet is called an Iambic Decameter

It is not a common occurrence in English Language poetry to read lines of verses in poems made up entirely of the anapest, trochee, dactyl, spondee, pyrrhic or any other type. These only provide variety and versatility in the rhythmic flow of poetic verses. What is most common occurrence in English Language poetry is to read lines of verses in poems made up entirely or mostly of the iamb. The iamb is the most popular foot in English Language Poetry. So, any description of the lines of verses in English Poetry necessitates inclusion the name of the constituent foot or dominant foot.

Here are examples of two poems (“Rose” and “Upon Leaving USA”) for you to study:


Your roots .................... (monometer verse)
Are everywhere
In gardens near and far
With petals of sunshine beauty
Blooming ...................... (monometer verse)

Graphic Scansion of the poem “Rose”

Your roots
.... Iamb
...... u / ........
.................... 1 .... iambic monometer verse

Are ev<>erywhere
Spondee ....... Iamb
... //............. u/.......
............. 1 ................. 2 ... dimeter verse

In gar<>dens near<>and far
.. Iamb ....... Iamb .......... Iamb
... u/...... ....... u/ ......... .. uu ....

............. 1 .................... 2 ............ 3 ... iambic trimeter
With pet<>als of sun<>shine beauty
.. Iamb ...... .. Anapest .... .. Amphibrach .....
.. u/ ................. uuu ................... //u

.................. 1 .................... 2 ........................... 3 ... trimeter
.. Iamb
... /u ...........
................... 1 ... iambic monometer

Some poems are written exclusively in monometer verse.
Here is such an example taken from the poem “Upon Leaving USA” and the graphic scansion on it as proof.

Upon Leaving USA

The stress
And worry
Were more
Than she
Could bear;

Graphic Scansion of the poem “Upon Leaving USA”

The stress<>

... Iamb
.... u/

.................. 1 foot ... iambic monometer
And worry<>

.... u/u

.................. 1 foot ... amphibrachaic monometer
Were more <>
.. Spondee

..... //
..................... 1 foot ... spondaic monometer
Than she <>

... uu

............... 1 foot ... pyrrhaic monometer

Could bear; <>

.. Spondee
...... //

...................... 1 foot ... spondaic monometer

In this particular poem (Upon Leaving USA) even though each line of verse measures one foot (monometer) the foot pattern varies throughout the lines of verse, and the iambic foot is not the dominant pattern throughout the poem because other foot patterns have emerged but still not able to claim dominance in every line of verse either, so the poem can only be described as having monometer verses. If the iambic pattern had been able to claim dominance in all the lines of verse in the poem, then we could say that "Upon Leaving USA" is an iambic monometer poem. However, based on the graphic scansion the poem is simply a monometer poem. To read all the verses to the poem go to “Upon Leaving the USA".

What is there to learn about the graphic scansion process?

Scansion in the broadest sense is to examine carefully animate and inanimate entities using any range of symbols. This process of examining and analyzing symbols and symbolic expressions in the end products of poetry, for the purpose to make informed decisions as to what the poet is saying or might be implying is called Graphic Scansion. This process examines in detail the rhythmic flow and the metrical structure of poems in order to understand the poems better and to draw conclusions from them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Comments on Wire Taps


This poem “Wire Taps” was composed at Rockley in the parish of
Christ Church, Barbados on September 13, 2007. It is written in the form of an Acrostic Mesostich.

When the first letters of the first word on each line of verse form a word or message relating to the subject or title an Acrostic poem is produced.

When the first letters of the middle word on each line of verse form the word or message relating to the subject or title a Mesostich poem is created.

Here are some guidelines to help you compose your first Acrostic Mesostich poem:

Firstly, make the decision as to what style you will write the Acrostic Mesostich; whether in the traditional form or in Free Verse

Select a title for the Acrostic Mesostich, preferably a dual title is much better, but a single title could work as well. Let’s say you selected the title “Good Luck”. Select Good for the Acrostic side of the poem and Luck for the Mesostich part of the poem. This procedure is shown on the map below, bearing in mind that the Mesostich starts at the middle-point of each line of verse in the poem.

Good Luck

Acrostic Side Mesostich side




If you decided on a single title for your Acrostic Mesostich poem, for example ”Fall” the procedural map looks like this


Acrostic Side Mesostich Side

F…………… f…………….



Start composing the lines of verses for the poem, now that you know where the starting points are for the Acrostic and Mesostich sides of the poem.

At the beginning of the first line of verse, begin with the first letter in the first word in the title (in this example, the title is “Good Luck”) the first word in the title is “Good” and the first letter is “G”. Continue on this line of verse until you reach the center point and begin that word with the first letter in the second word in the title (in this example, the title is “Good Luck”) the second word in the title is “Luck” and the first letter is “l”.

At the beginning of the second line of verse, begin with the second letter “o” in the first word in the title; at the center of this same line of verse, begin with the second letter “u” in the second word in the title.

At the beginning of the third line of verse, begin with the third letter “o” in the first word in the title; at the center of this same line of verse, begin with the third letter “c” in the second word in the title.

At the beginning of the fourth line of verse, begin with the fourth letter “d” in the first word in the title; at the center of this same line of verse, begin with the fourth letter “k” in the second word in the title.

You can follow this procedure for any title you have for your Acrostic Mesostich poem

Read your completed poem aloud, check for errors and correct any errors found.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Comments on "Venus goddess of love" poem

This poem “Venus goddess of love” is written in Open Form poetry (notice that the first letters on each line spell out the title of the poem). Open form poetry is really Free Verse. It looks like metered poetry at first glance. However, it does not conform to established patterns of meter, rhyme and stanza. It derives its rhythmic properties from the repetition of words, phrases or grammatical structures, the arrangement of words on the page, or by some other means.

The Twentieth century American poet E. E. Cummings is well known for writing Open Form poetry. Indeed, his poems do not have measurable meter, but they definitely have great rhythm. He experimented radically with structure, punctuation, spelling and syntax. As it were, he abandoned traditional techniques and created his highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. His critics said of him that he settled into his signature style and did not bother to carry his work to the next evolutionary level. Be that as it may, Cummings’ simplistic poetic language, his playful mode and obsession with topics on war and sex continues to capture the poetic hearts of young readers. It is now forty-eight years since his death but his poetic style lives on.

In this open form poem the explicit meaning is about a love relationship. In addition this poem shows didactic threads covertly embedded. Secondary school educators will find many suitable teachable themes for their thematic lessons for the integrated curriculum. Examples of some of didactic threads extracted from the Venus goddess of love poem are shown below.

Poem: Venus goddess of love

Teachable Themes and Topics:

The Mythology of Venus
Religious festivals
Science fiction movies, novels

Solar Terrestrial Planets


NASA Missions
Venus Explorations:

Barbados Involvement in Space Projects
High Altitude Research Project- Harp
Space Research Corporation-SRC
Martlet projectiles

Important Personalities and events that affected the project
Dr Gerald Bull
Saddam Hussein
Vietnam War
South Africa under Apartheid
Israeli Mossad
1991 Gulf War
Iranian Vevak intelligence agency

Why Barbados ousted SRC from its shores?

Integrated Curriculum:
English Language
English Literature
Aerospace Technology Mathematics
Science (Aerodynamics and Ballistics)

The integrated curriculum is a philosophy of teaching in which content is drawn from several subject areas to focus on a particular topic or theme. Rather than studying mathematics or social studies in isolation, for example, a class might study a unit called The Ocean, using mathematics to calculate pressure at certain depths and social studies to understand why coastal and inland populations have different livelihoods. Effective interdisciplinary teaching includes the following elements:

A topic that lends itself to study from several points of view;

Two to five valuable themes (or essential questions) the teacher wants the students to explore;

An approach and activities to further students’ understanding more than is possible in a traditional, single-discipline unit.

Thematic instruction is the organization of a curriculum around macro “themes.” The thematic lesson integrates basic subjects (reading, math, and science) with the exploration of a broad topic, such as communities, forests, the use of energy, communication, water, transportation and so on.

The thematic lesson is based on the idea that students acquire knowledge best when learning in the context of a coherent “whole,” and when they can connect what they’re learning to the real world. The thematic lesson seeks to put the teaching of cognitive skills such as reading, mathematics, science, and writing in the context of a real-world subject that is both specific enough to be practical, and broad enough to allow creative exploration.

The thematic lesson usually occurs within an entire age-range (grade level) of students. Educators of all the different subjects taught in that particular age-range (grade) work together as a team to design the interdisciplinary curriculum, instruction methods, and assessment around a preselected theme. Typical procedures include:

Choosing a theme – Themes often involve a large, integrated system (such as a city, an ecosystem, and so on) or a broad concept (such as democracy, weather, and so on). Instructors often strive to connect the theme to the students’ everyday life

Designing the interdisciplinary curriculum – The educators involved must organize the learning objectives of their core curriculum (both process skills and content knowledge) around the theme. In the study of transportation, for instance, mathematics might involve calculating transportation costs; social studies could look at the nature of transportation; science might study computational transportation science like sensors and wireless devices; and literature could study books and novels that focus on transportation, such as the “Age of the Bicycle” by Charles Ashbacker, “Wagon Tracks” by Robert Harter.

Designing the instruction – This usually involves making changes to the class schedule, combining hours normally devoted to specific topics, organizing field trips, teaching in teams, bringing in outside experts, and so on.

Encouraging presentation and celebration – Because thematic instruction is often project-oriented, it frequently involves students giving collective presentations to the rest of the school or the community.

The thematic lesson can be a powerful tool for reintegrating the curriculum and eliminating the isolated, reductionist nature of teaching around disciplines rather than experience. It requires a lot of hard, initial design work, plus a substantial restructuring of teacher relationships and class schedules.

Hints on writing a didactic poem in Open Form

Now that you have read many poems written in open form, decide on what rules in traditional forms of poetry you plan to manipulate in the poem you will create. Think about a time where you were struck by a particular image: how you came upon that image; how that image made you feel; seeing the image, what flashed across your mind when you saw it? Select a title for that experience and decide on teachable thread you will weave into the poem.

Start composing your poem in open form. The Venus poem should serve as a model for writing your poem in open form.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Comments on Hurricane Preparedness Watch

This didactic poem “Hurricane Preparedness Watch” is made up of decasyllabic quatrains rhyming aabb. This is a term used for a poetic form in which each stanza consists of four lines of ten syllables each, usually with a rhyme schemes aabb. When the decasyllabic quatrain has a rhyme scheme abab, it is often referred to as the "heroic quatrain", "heroic stanza" or the "four-line stave". It came to prominence in the poem Nosce Te ipsum (know thyself) by Sir John Davies in 1599. The history of English Literature shows that the most common usage for the decasyllabic form had existed long before Davies's poems in the form of the heroic couplet, where two lines of iambic pentameter verses were composed with a rhyme scheme aabb.

Before writing came into general use, instruction was conveniently expressed in verse, as being more easily remembered than prose. The Greeks did not recognize didactic poetry as a separate literary genre; since it was written in hexameters they regarded it as a form of epic poetry. In Greece this kind of composition died out in the fifth century BC with the rise of prose literature, but was revived in the Hellenistic age. Didactic Poetry is intended to convey instruction and information in a "fun sort of way" while at the same time putting across a delicate or serious message. It can assume the mode and features of imaginative works by infusing knowledge in a variety of poetic forms where various poetic techniques, diction and style are infused to keep readers' interest from start to finish. There is the popular view that allegory, aphorisms, apologues, fables, gnomes and proverbs are specific types of Didactic Poetry because of their close affinity. When reading didactic poems, focus on the serious messages each conveys. However, bear in mind that every poem has a didactic thread either overly or covertly.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Comments on Alisajs

(Poetry Analysis)

The poem “Alisajs” is an acrostic written in a non-compliant form called Free Verse. This is so because it does not comply with the rules governing metered poetry. This free flow allowed the poet to write freely without worrying about trying to make the words fit a specific meter, rhyme scheme or stanza.

What message is being conveyed in this poem? How can you find out what message the poem is designed to convey? And how can you be sure that indeed you have accurately figured out what the poet is really communicating through the speaker of the poem? Not really unless you have the rare opportunity to sit down with the poet and have a frank discussion on the matter. After all, a poem is not a neatly constructed essay with a thesis statement at the beginning to tell the reader what it is all about. A poem does not usually tell readers what it means, otherwise it would be prose and not poetry. However, poems usually do have themes but they also try to create an emotional effect and make an association between things and ideas not often joined.

Poets don’t always choose a title that states their theme, but they often do. One should never ignore the title of a poem however vague it may be, for it may help one find the theme of the poem, or at least identify the key image representing the theme. Of course, this requires digging a little deeper to find meaning in a vague title, but if the title does seem to be telling something, it never hurts to relate that meaning to the rest of the poem because this controlling idea is continuously developed throughout the poem by sets of key words that identify the poet’s subject and attitude and feeling about it. What is a theme? The theme is the controlling idea in any poem, extracted from its details of language, character and action, and cast in the form of generalized statements.

Rarely does a poet begin and end the poetic experience in the same place. The poet's understanding of an experience is a gradual realization, and the poem is a reflection of that epiphany painted with words, poetic images, and patterns whirling around in the poem that are not always precise, because they have different meanings for different readers. However, the poet leaves readers with a trail of clues that provides both explicit meaning and the implicit meaning.

How might readers find meaning in any poem since poetic images are not always precise? Fortunately, there are analytical tools for poetry that allow readers to come up with intelligent ways as to what is the poet’s intended message is in the poem. Poetry analysis provides tools to extract both the explicit and implicit meaning from the poem. Poetry analysis is therefore, the process of investigating a poem’s form, content and history in an informed way, with the aim of heightening one’s own and others’ understanding and appreciation of the poetic work. This process is undertaken for many reasons and can take many forms. Teachers would analyze a poem in order to gain a more conscious understanding of how poems achieve their effects in order to communicate this to students. Writers learning the craft of poetry might use the tools of poetry analysis to expand and strengthen their own mastery. Persons who read poetry might use the tools and techniques of poetry analysis in order to discuss all that the poem has to offer, and thereby gain fuller and more rewarding appreciation of the poem.

There are some basic tenets which are very helpful when seeking to interpret what the poet says in the poem. It is important to try to understand the poem’s explicit, literal meaning first. Then seek answers to these attentive questions about the implicit meaning of the poem such as: What is implied? What is unsaid or suggested in the imagery…go beyond the obvious…break new grounds of understanding…think outside the box …search for new ideas and connotative meanings as it were.

Also, there is the matter of trying to understand the language of the poem. For example, these are some of the poetic devices like the metaphor, similes, understatements, overstatements, and other unusual uses of language that poets use to stretch the readers’ imagination so wearing a thinking cap is highly recommended; because poets are noted for setting up words to resonate with many meanings at once, and that’s the beauty of poetry. So in poetry, expect to find words packed with more meanings than when used in ordinary language. As we search for connotative meanings in poems we are required to think divergently most of the time.

When conducting an analysis of a poem it is imperative to comment on such matters as:

The Title

The analysis process is a sure way to discover the poem's message to the reader--what was the poet really trying to communicate. The analysis looks at poem’s message for both explicit and implicit answers. An example of an analysis of a poem is given below.


Adorably you muse with plenty of
love and romance, woven
into delicate, cognitive threads
sown exquisitely together
as well, you grasp tightly a
jardinière in your hands
sending lots of sunshine, to golden sands…


The title at once makes the reader thinks the poem is about a loving relationship revealed by one person to the other. However, it does not become clear immediately, that the poem offers a broader view of what civic-minded people do as they embrace the idea of being social partners in nation building. The title is feminine but begs the question: Is it a real name or a good user-name? The poet shows versatility in the structure of the poem


The speaker communicates directly to a female though it is hard to tell if speaker is male. The speaker showers praise on Alisajs in a public ceremony via some type of social networking site.


The poem’s mood is that of excitement, confidence and sincerity.


The speaker’s tone is respectful, sophisticated. There is no shift in the speakers tone and attitude; this suggests that the sentiments expressed are sincere.


The language is dignified, poetic and lofty yet easily understood by the audience.


Love and romance, caring and sharing, voluntarism, establishing connections, social consciousness of citizens, are possible themes in this poem.


The title gives a good structure for a user-name since the real name seems not to be in play here. This is based on the fact that a good user-name is easy to spell, to type and remember. It is simple and more or less free of special symbols. Probably the real name is ‘Lisa’ with the first letter ‘a’ and the last two letters ‘js’ as the permutations. A user-name is used for professional purposes, and helps to protect one’s privacy when communication via web services once the real name is not disclosed.

This poem has seven lines spelling out the name of the poem’s title. In this short poem there is much adoration shown in the imagery riding on the rhythmic wave of adjectives and adverbs providing needed insight into the personality traits of the person upon whom the accolade is being showered. The use of the acrostic form is most appropriate because this form provides the avenue from which to praise people, cities, and events during any kind of awards ceremony whether on a grand scale or not so grand.

This poem shows the poet’s versatility. There is a marked departure from the formal structure or established modes of conventional poetry arrangements in this poem. This contention is based on the fact that in the poem there are no set patterns of rhymes and meter. The poet makes effective use of the enjambment which is something not readily utilized in structured poetry with metered verses. The enjambment is the continuation of a syntactic element from one line of verse into the next without a pause; it allows the speaker to put emphasis on certain words or phrases. Also notice that in this poem, there is only one end-stop in the form of an ellipsis. End-stops are not typically found in Free Verse. What is evident in this poem is that the poet has borrowed techniques from unstructured forms and amalgamated them with conventional forms of which the acrostic belongs. Supposedly, that’s what versatile poets do nowadays.

The explicit or literal meaning of this poem is about a tender, loving attraction publicly shown to Alisajs by an admirer via some type of social media.

The insight into the personality traits of Alisajs shows that she is people-oriented; she is talented, and compassionate with a winning personality and an unselfish devotion as seen in Lines 5, 6 and 7. During the course of the conversation, Alisajs’ admirer lets it be known that she is adored because of the love she shares and so much more as implied by the use of the ellipsis (…). Questions arise: What kind of relationship is being demonstrated? Is it agape love, platonic or a romantic relationship? Is the relationship a long distance one or not? Is the person male or female who is talking to Alisajs? Answers to these questions go unanswered for thelack of sufficient clues in this short poem.

The speaker hints that Alisajs is talented and intelligent as seen in Lines 1, 2, 3, and 4. However, the question arises: What exactly is her area of expertise? The imagery does not say but leaves the fires of speculation burning to suggest that she could be any one of these: landscape designer, gourmet cook, motivational speaker. Could it be that she is a song writer or a poet whose forte is aligned with romanticism as envisioned in Line 1? Could she be a care-giver in some geriatric hospital as the mind sees in Line 7? What is Alisajs’ social status in the community? The speculation seems to say that she is probably from the bourgeois class given the sophisticated language of the speaker.

The implicit meaning of the poem is derived from the many feelings surfacing from the array of images being painted. The implicit meaning is propelled by metaphors found in the poem. These figures of speech stir up ambiguities of the language and give rise to speculative results from the additional questions they raise. This is all purposeful work on the part of the poet to speak to the readers’ subconscious mind. These figures of speech stir up ambiguities of the language and give rise to speculative results from the additional questions they raise. So where the mind goes, the poem will follow the mind. So, through the implicit prism, Alisajs is a metaphor for what civic-minded people do when pushing the voluntarism envelope in neighborly love to splendid heights by honoring the concept of social partners in nation building.

Please let me know if you find this helpful.

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Haiti Under Rubble from 7.0 Earthquake

Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

First Caribbean Bank Account--2645374-- Cheques can be written to: HELP #2645374

For more information click on this link

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti.

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