Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To clarify

Photo by Irene Müller
A clarity pyramid poem can have a haikuish feeling the way it illuminates a subject in a few syllables. They're also exercises in word choice :-) Here's an example:

Born again

The horizon sings
sweet morning harmonies
to serenade the sun’s rise.

“the Aroma of earth and rain”

The structure:

- 3 stanzas (groups of lines): 2 are triplets (a group of 3 lines) and the last a clarifying line.
- Each line increases in syllable count by 1 (except the 4th line). So it's 1,2,3 then 5,6,7 then 8 syllables.
- The 1st line is written in capitals.
- The last line (8th) is enclosed in quotation marks.

The content:

- Line 1 is the subject (and title).
- Lines 2 and 3 must clarify or be synonyms of the first line. (This seems to trip up a lot of people where their descriptors didn't contain an essence of the first line.)
- Lines 5, 6 and 7 must describe a life event linked to the word in the first line. (This too. Many expressed opinions rather than an experience.)
- Line 8 must further clarify the first line.

It's trickier than it seems!

People tend to use lines 2 and 3 to describe rather than clarify. While a ball might be reddish, for example, red doesn't clarify its "ballness". As different as a blue ball looks from a red ball, color doesn't alter its "ballness". But "rubber globe" gets more to the essence of what a ball is.

And people tend to use lines 5, 6 and 7 to express their opinions and general feelings about the subject rather capturing a specific moment (which can give the poems their haiku-like feel.)

A clarity pyramid poem will look like:




(Whether it's centered or not is your choice.)

The form was invented by Jerry Quinn, poet (and financial strategist), in 2002. Here is another of his clarity pyramid poems:

fall away

brim bulging puddle
pushing over the edge
leaving its body behind

"lowered by prying position"

both ©Jerry P. Quinn



funny and fragile
baby sisters name sake
won't tell my darkest secrets

"older, wiser, wider best pals"

© grannym/ransome
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