Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The 20 Minute Villanelle

The 20 Minute Villanelle

1) Think of something you are obsessed with. (2 min)
2) Write an interesting rhymed couplet about it. These will become your repeating A and A’ lines. (2 min)
3) Divide the above A-A’ couplet in two, and quickly write 5-8 new rhymed partners for each one. From these you will choose your “a” lines. (5 min)
4) Divide these new a-A and a-A’ couplets, and in between each one quickly write an intervening line. These lines should each have the same rhyme. From these you will choose your “b” lines. (5 min)
5) Put your A and A’ lines in place below (1 min):

A
a
A’

a
b
A

a
b
A’

a
b
A

a
b
A’

a
b
A
A’

6) Now experiment with different placements of your most interesting “a” and “b” lines. Use enjambment and variation of the repeating A and A’ lines, as needed. (5 min)
7) Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly.
8) Season to taste.


7 comments:

Jennifer said...

I have a slight adjustment to your time scheme:

1) Think of something you are obsessed by. (5 seconds)
2) Write an interesting rhymed couplet about it. These will become your repeating A and A’ lines. (2 hours)
3) Divide the above A-A’ couplet in two, and quickly write 5-8 new rhymed partners for each one. From these you will choose your “a” lines. (5 hours)

Etc...

Seriously, I've only written one villanelle in my life ... it isn't even true rhyme, although I did achieve IP. It took hours and hours and hours -- were you able to write an insta-villanelle using the above formula? If so, I'm most impressed. Of course, a long simmering and much adjustment of seasonings may be the key...

Peter said...

Hi Jennifer:
I love your variation!

No, I am awful at writing in form. I did get a villanelle the other day, but it ain't pretty. This post is really quite tongue in cheek.
--Peter

A.R.B. said...

Wonderful post, Peter, and tasty, too!

Alberto

C. Dale said...

Lord, do I hate the villanelle. Actually, let me re-phrase that: Lord do I hate trying to write a villanelle. It isn't an easy form. I guess this is why I am most impressed when someone can do it well. Think Bishop's "One Art," Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle," Roethke's "The Waking,," Justice's "In Memory of the Unknown Poet, Robert Boardman Vaughn," and a few others. I have one villanelle to my name, written after savgaing the form and having it slappped into my face by a friend who then dared me to write a good one. Not sure it is that good, but I won't be touching that form again anytime soon. I have one sestina to my name, one villanelle and one pantoum. No need to venture into those forms again anytime soon.

Laurel said...

Thank you so much for your very sweet words. Now I'll try a vilanelle!!!!

xoL

Peter said...

C Dale: I agree, it's a tough form, and "One Art" is the most amazing example I know. After reading it, it's hard to even try to write one, but every now and then I am tempted. In the exercise, with it's ridiculously short time guidelines, I am hoping to "let go" and let the writing come somewhat mysteriously and automatically. Just to see what happens.

Kells said...

A villanelle tried to kill me in college. I like this exercise. It adds a bit of dash and fun to something that felt like pouring boiling water across my arms.