New Workshop Alert + A Free Prompt
Sign Up for My Self-Paced 30 Poems in 30 Days Workshop!
New Workshop Alert!!
I have a new self-paced workshop up at The Poetry Barn. This class came out of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), which happens every year in April. Similarly, the goal of this self-paced class is to write 30 poems in 30 days. However, you might write one poem a day, or several poems in a day, and then give yourself a break. It’s totally up to you!
Whether you’re writing to a specific theme, assembling a group of poems for a chapbook, or you want to try writing a longer poetic sequence, this workshop is meant to support you with generative prompts and experiences to get you creating plenty of new work.
And because I love you, here is an excerpt from the class!
Poems that include echoes are those that utilize repetition. A line “echoes back” to an earlier line or to the title in the poem. Like the echo in a canyon, the poem speaks to itself. The poet may repeat a sound, syllable, word, phrase, line, stanza, or rhythm.
On the subject, Edward Hirsch says in his book A Poet’s Glossary:
“It is one of the most marked features of all poetry, oral and written, one of the primary ways we distinguish poetry itself. Repetition, as in rhyme, is a strong mnemonic device. Oral poets especially use it for remembering structures. The incantatory magic of poetry — think of spells and chants, of children’s rhymes and lullabies — has something to do with recurrence, with things coming back to us in time, sometimes in the same way, sometimes differently. Repetition is the primary way of creating a pattern through rhythm. Meaning accrues through repetition. One of the deep fundamentals of poetry is the recurrence of sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, and stanzas. Repetition can be one of the most intoxicating features of poetry. It creates expectations, which can be fulfilled or frustrated. It can create a sense of boredom and complacency, but it can also incite enchantment and inspire bliss.”
An example of repetition on the book level is the book inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Bells”. Using the poem’s rhythm, Daniel Hoffman’s book Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe (1972), uses repetition to enforce the influence.
As an example, try to spot the repetition in the poem “Some Feel Rain” by Joanna Klink over at the Poetry Foundation.
Write a poem in which there is an echo/repetition. You can repeat any part of the poem that inspires you. I suggest starting with an interesting phrase, although you can also repeat the structure of the poem itself in some way.
Think of how your repetition might be lyrical or musical. An example is the blues rhythm:
“Oh, I asked her for water, oh, she brought me gasoline
Oh, I asked her for water, oh, she brought me gasoline
That’s the troublingest woman
That I ever seen” — Howlin’ Wolf
Or, your repetition could be as simple as one powerful word used in a powerful place.
About the Instructor
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor based out of Houston, Texas. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Analog, Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, and in the Other Terrors anthology from the Horror Writer’s Association, among many more publications. Holly is the author of the collection The Smallest of Bones, published by Clash Books in 2021 and Glimmerglass Girl, winner of the SFPA Elgin Award. She is the managing editor of Interstellar Flight Press, an indie press for underrepresented voices and genres. Visit Holly’s website at www.hlwalrath.com.