About workshops

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Basic and Essential Meter

Status: 
Program description/goal: 

Description: The essentials of meter in four simple exercises.

Leader: weirdelf
Moderator(s):  I would love help from anyone who knows how to parse meter. Any volunteers?

Objectives: To write four quatrains, all in strict meter. One in Iambic pentameter, one in Trochaic hexameter, one in Anapaestic trimeter or pentameter, one in Dactylic tetrameter or hexameter.
Don't be put off by these technical terms, I will explain all when the workshop starts, and you don't have to use the technical terms, you can always say things like 'da DUM times five' but I suspect it's a bit less cool.

Level of expertise: Open to all

Subject matter: Meter is the most important and most neglected aspect of our craft. I urge you to do this exercise at least once, and promise you you will feel a new power in your pen.

Most important:- Remember when posting each quatrain do not post to this page, post as a normal poem to the Stream but to scroll down to the 'Workshop' drop-down and select 'Basic and Essential Meter'.

Length: 
30 days
Number of participants (limit): 
20 people
Skill level: 
Date: 
Thursday, April 12, 2018 to Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Short description: 
The essentials of meter in four simple exercises.

Comments

I'll be under the influence of pain killers during the heart of this shop so I must decline being a true participant (good timing on your part? lol). But I'll ghost along as I can.......stan

You wouldn't welch for $3.50.... I think.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

So all participants, if you are using a laptop or phone make sure your microphone is turned on.

Don't worry if you can't hear or record. All the important information will be text.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

May I post my translation of Boris Pasternak's poem?
It is an attempt to write in four feet iambic lines,
With one extra syllabus at the end of the line one and three? I am having a tough time to keep the meter and need help fixing it a bit. Are you game?
-! -! -! -!-
-! -! -! -!
-! -! -! -!-
-! -! -! -!

IRiz

Four lines in Iambic Pentameter. No rhyme. The content means little. It can be nonsense.
tat Dum, ta Dum, ta Dum, taDum, ta Dum

Soon.
.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

for now lets just enrol and talk.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Sorry just saw this. I can unpublish my submissions.

IRiz

Would like to join thank you kindly,
Mario

Mario Vitale

and welcome.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Rhyme forbidden or just not required?

The emphasis is on meter and rhyme can screw with meter. Please don't do it.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

dokey

My I join the group?

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

you're in.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Have your say, I'd like to find out where you are at.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Well to me meter is the difference between poetry and plain prose. It sets the "beat" that often makes lines memorable. Even in free verse it can be used here and there to emphasize parts of a poem.........

What about terms like rhythm, cadence and flow?
Poetic prose can have cadence, flow, without meter though. What's the difference?

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Maybe it is that meter has a set number of beats between rhyming or near rhyming words while a poem Can have decent flow without strict meter

Meter opens a greater creativity for me. When I have to consider meter I can't just let it flow from my head, but find i am forced to craft my thoughts more; and this crafting opens richer ideas, and new insights.

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

and lends itself to different themes and structures. A learning of the basics allows you to pick the right one.

It need never inhibit, only enhance creative expression.

for me sometimes a meter attaches it self to the merest glint of a concept and a poem is born, at others I build a construct and design a meter to fit it.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

I have seen metered prose, so meter to me does not make the different between poetry and prose. Poetry to me is first of all content, though certain
tools may enhance its presentation.

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

the poetic process, along with music is the most elusive, esoteric and barely frangible of artforms.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

I agree. It is hard to say what makes poem poetic. But meter makes it to be heard.
Btw, WElf, I posted trochaic pentameter in your workshop. Wake up Australian, time to count my s-t.

IRiz

You initially forgot to link it to the workshop.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Must the submission be 4 lines, or can it be longer?

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

but no epics please!

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

The first exercise is a quatrain in Iambic Pentameter.

Iambic means ta DUM, Pentameter means there are five of them per line.

Please don’t try to rhyme, it only detracts. And don’t worry too much about meaning, it is the sound that sounds.

ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/

or if you prefer Bold just select the syllable and hit Ctrl B

ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/
ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/
ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/
ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/ ta dum/

Note, that the syllables can split words and include polysyllabic words

Eg Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening (By Robert Frost)

“He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there’s some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.”

“He gives/ his harn/ess bells/ a shake
To ask/ if there/’s some/ mistake.
The on/ly oth/er sound's/ the sweep
Of eas/y wind/ and down/y flake.”

Get it?

Here is how it sounds. I'll read it twice , once normal, once exaggerating the meter. have exaggeratted the meter so you can hear it.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1n45HBcTmvO

 

 

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

If it's not too late, I'd love to join! When should the first poem be posted by?

- JRS

"and what if I write of you.
is that more love than you can handle."
nayyirah waheed

and welcome

cheers,
Jess
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Foot type     Stress pattern                                    Or Just Say        Syllables

Iamb-            Unstressed + Stressed                        da DUM                Two
Anapaest-     Unstressed + Unstressed                   da da DUM            Three
                    +Stressed
Trochee-       Stressed + Unstressed                         DUM da                Two
Dactyl-         Stressed + Unstressed                          DUM da da            Three 
                    +Unstressed   
Amphibrach- Unstressed + Stressed                         da DUM da           Three
                    +Unstressed
Spondee-     Stressed + Stressed                               DUM DUM            Two
Pyrrhic-       Unstressed + Unstressed                       da da                    Two
Catalexis-    Broken foot                                                                            One

 

Foot count

1-Monometer

2-Dimeter

3-Trimeter

4-Tetrameter

5-Pentameter

6-Hexameter

7-Heptameter

8-Octameter

 

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Caesura - Sometimes a natural pause occurs in the middle of a line rather than at a line-break.

Iambic, Anapaestic, Trochaic, and Dactylic are the most common and important.

Iambic and Anapaestic, mix quite well, both ending in stressed syllables and make for strong rhyming.

Trochaic, and Dactylic mix quite well, both ending in unstressed syllables and make for subtle rhyming.

Iambic Pentameter is said to resemble the human heart beat.
Trochaic, and Dactylic are popular in ballads and epics.
You will find what works best with your form.

For the most creative and highly successful experiments with meter read Gerard Manley Hopkins 'Sprung Meter". Being poets we hate rules and try everything at least twice or more but experiments with meter are like experiments with spelling. It either doesn't work at all or it is just plain wrong. One exception re spelling would be Roger McGough.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

No rhyme or significant meaning necessary, just play with the meter. I will mark them up for you and record some where we disagree on stress and pronunciation. I've only heard from Tyro and IRiz so far, come on, have a go ya mugs!

 

Remember when posting each quatrain do not post to this page, post as a normal poem to the Stream but to scroll down to the 'Workshop' drop-down and select 'Basic and Essential Meter'.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Good information! Is it to late to join this workshop?

Reckon you can whip up a quick quatrain in Iambic Pentameter before we move on to Trochaic? Remember rhyme and even meaning don't matter much, it's about getting a feel for the sound of the meter.

 

Remember when posting each quatrain do not post to this page, post as a normal poem to the Stream but to scroll down to the 'Workshop' drop-down and select 'Basic and Essential Meter'.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

I did my trochaic poem. So I will wait.

IRiz

a) Can a quatrain in a sonnet have both iambic and trochaic pentameters?
b) in such a quatrain can pentameter be a mix of iambic and trochaic?
...............................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

Iambic and Anapaestic, mix quite well, both ending in stressed syllables and make for strong rhyming.

Trochaic, and Dactylic mix quite well, both ending in unstressed syllables and make for subtle rhyming.

cheers,
Jess
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for the details
.............................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

this may be a very fundamental query which is:-

Does one first write at free will and then try to fit it in meter? I have always found this to be a problem while trying to write in strict meter. To be honest this has been my struggle with meter. Does this come naturally to some who have a great vocabulary to choose from?
............................................................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

When you learn something well enough you don't have to think about it.
You will have noticed there is very little formal meter in my poetry but because I know it it slips in when appropriate.
Many poets have an objection to learning meter because they think it will restrict them into formalism. Quite the the opposite, it expands your creative abilities.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Ok..I understand what you mean Jess that once I learn the meter [which will certainly take lot of effort] it then becomes second nature / involuntary function...
Thanks for explaining with a good example..
.................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

Do you own a phone, a laptop or a desktop computer with a plug-in speaker or headset?

If so record your works for this workshop, save them as an Mp3 file and upload them to Vocaroo
https://vocaroo.com/
or SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/
so we can hear what you are saying. Americans say cigarette whilst English speakers say cigarette. Neither  is right or wrong but hearing your differences may help us understand you better.

An Americarn once said to me, facetiously.

"The language is the same only the emphasis is different"

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0kPMPwxSNRZ

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Thanks Jess for the tips/suggestion
..........................................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

Frost is a real good one to read

Robert Frost he was almost 100% iambic pentater. I find some of the Japenese short form more to my liking.

Mario Vitale

.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Do that first exercise Mario, here, I'll repeat it for you-

The first exercise is just four lines in Iambic Pentameter.

Iambic means ta DUM, Pentameter means there are five of them per line.

Please don’t try to rhyme, it only detracts. And don’t worry too much about meaning, it is the sound that counts.

ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/
ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/

Note, that the syllables can split words and include polysyllabic words

I gave Robert Frost as an example.

You are very very fond of giving advice to everyone else, Mario, and seldom listen or respond to others. Anyone would think you were a half-way competent poet. Let's see if you can put your pen where you mouth is.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Today I look through dopey eyes
merely a visit to say hello
but aware my meds are keeping me
from being metric as I might be

(I Know this is way off but focusing right now is not happening lol

Long is the jeourney to death,
dragging feet that the ising dust
engulf, a naive soul may ask
looking left," what's behind that? "

Mario Vitale

You post your exercises to the Stream, selecting the Workshop drop-down, not here on the workshop thread.
Get it?
(I am exercising every effort of will I have to not abuse you about everything you are at the moment )

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

tyro has written two quatrains of perfect Trochaic Pentameter!
https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/poems/she-dreams

Remember I've never suggested that anyone use perfect meter all the time. No-one ever does. The point of this workshop is to learn the sound and feel of each of the four major meters.

Whatever the foot count, which is best reasonably consistent, if one can compose in mostly Iambic with a little Anapaest and Catalexis or mostly Trochaic with a little Dactylic and Catalexis it gives the poem a cohesive harmonic that can not be achieved any other way.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

We aren't getting any where by fighting each other and putting each other down,
For me its hard to understand you with your mood swings in all so I proclaim a truce;
As far as posting I have a hard time doing that cause the site you told me about doesn't exist.
Jess sorry if I offended you so lets bygones be bygones and get on with writing poetry.
No offense, but I like Neopoet and truly want to perfect my craft on this site.
Fighting each other proves nothing !

Mario Vitale

Let's nothing personal intervene, let's work on the beauty and elegance, and sometimes visceral savagery of our craft.

What I would ask you to do is make an attempt at the exercises in this workshop and I promise you fair, non-personal critique. I truly believe, from knowledge, experience, vast reading, academic study and a modicum of personal talent that meter is way the most important tool of our art. I apologise for attacking you over a simple mistake, post your exercises to the Stream with this workshop selected, not on this thread.

'Promise' is a much misused word but I promise you it will improve and enlarge the range of your work.

Read other peoples submissions at https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/view/23136 and see how I put a lot of work into parsing them, even doing readings when I think it will help. Especially check out tyros's two quatrains of perfect Trochaic Pentameter!
https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/poems/she-dreams

Remember we are not trying to write good poetry here, we are learning the sound and feel of meter.

Are we ok then?

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

The second exercise is a quatrain in Trochaic Tetrameter. This is a bit easier than the last one, having only four feet per line. I've done that because Iambic is the most commonly used foot in English poetry, our ears are 'trained' to it, so Trochees feel a bit awkward at first.

Trochee means DUM ta , Tetrameter means there are four of them per line.

Please don’t try to rhyme, it only detracts. And don’t worry too much about meaning, it is the sound that sounds.

DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta
DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta
DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta
DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta/ DUM ta

or if you prefer Bold just select the syllable and hit Ctrl B

dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta
dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta
dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta
dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta/ dum ta
 

A famous example is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Note, that the syllables can split words and include polysyllabic words.

As you start on it let's discuss how it 'feels' different from Iambic meter. How you might choose on or the other for a particular mood, style or tone of poem.
 

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

It is to learn the sound and feel of metric forms and compare them.

Iriz, Tyro and BJ have attempted both forms so far. How did you feel about the differences between them?

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

The iambic was very easy, it almost wrote itself. It seem so close to natural speech I only had to twerk those few places where it was needed.

The trochaic was far more difficult. It called for a forceful speech, and to me an unnatural one. It was especially difficult getting the first lines to comply with the meter requirements. I even felt I cheated a bit by making line breaks where I normally would not make them in order to bring the meter in line, and at the same time keep the read smooth.
I was having trouble until the comment by IRiz of trochaic being good for telling stories, it certainly helped me.

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

Iambic is the most natural meter, resembling the human heartbeat. It also makes rhyming easier.

However all the other meters serve a function in terms of the way the message and feel of the poem is conveyed. The best example I can think of is Longfellow's 'Hiawatha'. Trochaic and Dactylic are useful for epic and balladic poetry as they lead more naturally from one line to the next.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

I'll come back with a new one for more complex forms and incorporating other prosodic devices soon.

For now are there any new submissions or any submissions you would like more feedback on?

Otherwise please give me feedback on how the workshop was run and how useful it was for you. All suggestions and criticism are welcome.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Dear W-Elf,
Thank you for your help. I agree with you, once you said that to start writing with a better rhythm it helps to practice counting. As soon as the count sinks in the meter comes back subconsciously when needed. I am not there yet, but moving closer thank you for your time and efforts.
I wander if before closing you consider doing one more prompt.
Maybe any meter with two short and one long syllabi combination?
These meters make poems flow smoother, what do you think?

IRiz

Workshops on meter have always been the most exhausting and frustrating I have ever done.
Most poets think it is 'rules' that limit their creativity. My Masters thesis on poetry proved to the world art community that meter is the prime driving force of poetry. But rhyme is easy. Prose broken into lines is easy.

Fuckit, I am near despair but yes, I'll come back with another workshop, only if people express interest when I blog my intentions.
No more exercises in this one, sorry. I put a lot of myself into this and it is not easy. I'm tired.

Thank you so much for learning the one thing I wanted to impart.
That by learning meter it becomes an intellectual 'muscle memory' that helps your poetry flow more melodically.

Any more feedback or requests from anyone?

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Any more feedback or requests from anyone?

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

Hi Wierdelf
It was a good workshop and I picked up some good points of wisdom from you, as to the importance of meter. I sincerely hope you do another in the near future. I appreciate the work and time you put into it to help others. I do have a question, do you think it would be a good idea to try and use iamb in free verse? And is iamb the only meter possible in free verse?

Thanks again for your time and dedication.

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

Meter only works when it is used consistently, that's why I chose quatrains as the minimum framework.
Yes, meter works especially well in free verse as it is less obvious than rhyme and Iambic is the most natural meter, both for the English tongue and because it resembles the human heartbeat. It can mix well with Anapaestic as both stress the last syllable but clashes with Trochaic and Dactylic which stress the first syllable.

Listen, poetry is a craft and skill like any other. Who without any learning can pick up a palette and paint brilliantly? Or take a lump of clay and shape a David, let alone sculpt it from a flawed piece of marble. We're not talking rules we're talking skills and craftsmanship.

Once again I refer to the concept of 'muscle memory'. If you read some examples of various meters and consciously try to write in those meters, no matter how crappy the poems turn out, your mind learns to 'hear the sound' and almost unconsciously insert it where appropriate.

I have only ever met two poets who had an innate, unlearned grasp of it, both natural poetic geniuses, both members of Neopoet. Lonnie and Esker. Both recently deceased to our great loss. However as far as I know meter does not cause premature death. It's just that most poets live hard and die young. But that is not a prerequisite either, hard living junky William Burroughs lived to 84. Even I've made it to sixty despite all expectations [grins].

Thanks for your feedback and yes, I will run more. Even leading up to that master of original, almost indefinable meter, Gerard Manly Hopkins and his 'sprung meter'.

cheers,
Jess
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author comment

time got away from me and I never got around to doing the trochee quatrain, but I appreciated your efforts to teach us and your generous knowledge. The only suggestion I have is to try to find someone who can help run the next workshop, someone to lighten the parsing load/ease the stress of running such a workshop.

- JRS

"and what if I write of you.
is that more love than you can handle."
nayyirah waheed

not many people are confident parsing meter, for which poetry as a whole suffers.

You can still post your trochaic if you like, let me know when you do and I'll check it out.

cheers,
Jess
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