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:

Refresh
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:

X
xx
xxx

xxxxx
xxxxxx
xxxxxxx

"xxxxxxxx"

(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:

dangled
fall away

brim bulging puddle
pushing over the edge
leaving its body behind

"lowered by prying position"

both ©Jerry P. Quinn

And

crony
supporter

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

"older, wiser, wider best pals"

© grannym/ransome
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