My poetry

I have been writing poetry as a part of my creative writing course. It is quite a stretch. But I have found a way to be political and activist in certain poem types. There is a wonderful reasonably new form that is made for political satire and it is called the Double Dactyl. Think back to those days in high school when you learned that Shakespeare and Chaucer wrote in iambic pentameter and you knew what that meant. The iamb or the dactyl is a metric foot. The iamb can be represented as duh-DUH. The dactyl is DUH-duh-duh. So the iamb is a two beat foot and the dactyl and its reverse the anapest are three beat feet. The anapest is duh-duh-DUH.

I know this stuff seems boring, but if you want to understand poetry written before 1920 or thereabouts, meter is very important in poetry. Even today, reading some of the less exotic poets can be enhanced by seeking out and feeling the metrical impulses in the work. It informs the way the poem is to be read, although punctuation (or the lack thereof) is generally a bigger help (or hindrance).

The Double Dactyl was created by two or three modern poets in 1966, and who knows why they did so. The rules are arcane but easily absorbed after one or two attempts. The poem has two quatrains, each containing three double dactyl lines and each ending in a dactyl spondee pair. In all versions I have seen, the spondee pair is truncated to a single stressed syllable. The first line of the first quatrain must be nonsense, or gibberish. The second line of the first quatrain must contain a proper name or a place name. The second line of the second quatrain should include a word that is a double dactyl. Before you say that it is impossible, I offer you the following: bronchiopneumonia; cardiotherapy; hexasylabically. The list can go on for pages. The original creators of the form had one last constraint: that once a double dactyl word has been used in a double dactyl poem, it is off limits to any further such poem. That part seems crazy to me, because how could one know all the double dactyls scribbled late at night by sleep-deprived writers.

I cannot give you either of my best Double Dactyls since I have submitted them for publication to a print source that will not accept work previously  printed in a blog or social media. Sorry. I worked briefly on a new one today, and it is by no means polished. But I will give it to you with that proviso so that you can get a sense of the form. It is political, as many are, though it is a form also given to frivolity. At the rate I am going, I may be publishing a chapbook of Double Dactyls before my novel ever gets published!

Boehner and Cruz

Jonegin, gonegin
Boehner the Speaker or
hopes he is, first of year
Hating Ted Cruz

Texan disturbing the
donor class capit’lists
paying their dues

3 thoughts on “My poetry

  1. M.J. Moores

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Have you double dactyled? If you’re not a follower of structured or metrical poetry this may be news to you… check out the satire inherent in the structure and have a dabble in private or give us a sample of some of your own trials 😀


    1. bhalsop Post author

      Just so you know, and you can correct your blog, my last name is Alsop, and I prefer to be known as bhalsop. But thank you for reblogging, and I will keep an eye on your blog for responses.

      Liked by 1 person


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