Welcome back, everyone, for Day Four of Na/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant today is The Scribbletorium, which used our “opposite” prompt for Day 3 to turn a mysterious Borges poem into its equally mysterious mirror-image — an act that, come to think of it, is something Borges himself likely would have approved of!

Today’s poetry resource is this collection of poetry video recordings from the Dodge Poetry Program. If you’re not familiar with the Program, every two years it sponsors a four-day poetry festival in New Jersey, bringing together poets and students from across the United States and internationally.

And now here’s another prompt drawn from our archives – and, as usual, optional! Today, let’s try writing triolets. A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) — ABaAabAB.

Here’s an example by Thomas Hardy:

Birds at Winter

Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster
Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster
And all the berries now are gone!

Triolets were in vogue among the Victorians — all those repetitions can add a sort of melancholy gravitas to a poem, but watch out! They can also make the poem sound oddly gong-like. A playful, satirical poem, on the other hand, can be easily written in the triolet form, especially if you can find a way to make the non-repeating lines slightly change the meaning of the repeated ones. Here’s an example of a modern, humorous triolet, by Wendy Cope:


My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Whatever you’ve got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.

Happy writing!

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