Saturday, February 19, 2005


Also known as an alphabet poem. Below is an example from Paul West, who is said to be the inventor. As you will note, his is not a strict abecedarian ("Xenodocy's" made-up, and Z is missing). It's a tough form in which to write something that flows: but I think this one works. Try it today!

Artichokes, Bubbly,
Caviar, Dishes
Epicures Favor,
Gourmets Hail;
Ices, Juicy
Kickshaws, Luxurious
Mousses, Nibblesome
Octopus, Pheasant,
Quiches, Sweets,
Treats Utterly
Vanqish Weightwatchers;

PS: Carolyn Forche has an incredible 24-page long line-abecedarian in her book Blue Hour. It is freakin' amazing.


C. Dale said...

You are out of control! What will you torture us with next? The Bref double?

Peter said...

Hmmm: Bref double? I'll have to see about that! LOL P

The Sublibrarian said...

Boy, I hope this doesn't just sound cranky, but given that things like the lipogram go all the way back to ancient Greek literature, I'd be surprised if Mr. West actually invented it.

Just for fun, there are some variations on the abecedarian to twist your head around here .

And, of course, there's Walter Abish's abecedarian novel, Alphabetical Africa.

BTW, where'd you find the West piece?

Peter said...

Howdy Sublibrarian:
The Paul West piece was in Babette Deutsch's _Poetry Handbook_, where she says he was "the inventor." (I agree, it's unlikely).
Carolyn Forche credits the Gnostic abecedarian hymns of the 3rd century AD, as one source for her long abecedarian poem.
PS: thanks for the link; & love your blog, btw.

Esther Helfgott said...

Hi Peter
My first try at an Abecedarian is on today's blog. I would prefer to move the words back and forth, but the blog doesn't seem to allow. Great exercise. Thanks!

Peter said...

Hi Esther:
Glad you liked the exercise.
Here is my first take at one (though it is unfinished):

Night Nurse (for new mom Reb L)

Awakened by
crying: diaper
emptied, feed-time.
God, how I just keep
latching-on! My
nipples open,
puckered, quite
red, stretched.
Unending v
with x
Yawn, zzzzz.

early hours of sky said...

every time I try to do this I write a "dirty" poem lol

early hours of sky said...

oh and Forche poem was brilliant, she also has ancient Hebrew forms in there as well. I adore her.