Poetry Society of Tennessee

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


The Poetry Society of Tennessee is sponsoring a blank verse narrative poem in the next NFSPS brochure (2015), so members need to be aware of that format.

Blank verse is iambic pentameter without rhyme. That means each line contains 10 syllables or 5 iambic feet.  One iambic foot contains 2 syllables, the first unstressed, the second stressed. That is symbolized as u/.  The whole line is symbolized as u/ u/ u/ u/ u/.  Don't be intimated by the expression "iambic pentameter."  It's really very easy to write because the English language is highly iambic, and that's a big help.

In a blank verse narrative poem, the poet must tell a story.  Several examples are given here to help members become familiar with blank verse narrative. 

Here's a humorous example of a blank verse narrative poem.

Fashion Changes in the Garden

A few weeks past the apple episode
the Snake sought Adam for a little talk.
Snake said, "Yo, Dude, I dig your leafy look.
I'd like to try that on if you don't mind."
"I love the suit you're wearing," Adam said,
and how it helps you blend with everything."
"I crave to mix, not blend," was Snake's reply.
"I think you and the broad look mighty cool!"
So Adam, being such an all-round sport,
began to gather up some fallen leaves,
and after fashioning a flashy string,
bedecked the snake along his narrow back.

The monkeys took one look and swung away.
The squirrels popped their tails frenetically.
The birds chirped loudly, letting kinfolk know
that first-time avant garde was going down.
Giraffes stood tall and craned their necks to see.
The elephants became emotional,
and flapped their floppy ears in frank dismay.
The owl, born wise, said, "Ain't that Snake a hoot?"
And Adam said, "Oh, yes . . . I quite agree,
but Eve, my wife, is bound to be upset
to find her frock is not the latest thing."

Here's a serious example of blank verse narrative:

Viola's Week

"I wish the phone would ring," Viola said,
one boring day. The talking to herself
was frequent now. Who knows when it began?
Some days were busy--Sundays at the church.
On Wednesday nights she took a covered dish.
Constructing that consumed an hour or two.
The longest days were Mondays, and the dread
of Monday started late in every week.
When she no longer drove, she quit the choir,
So Thursdays, which had once been fuller, dragged.
On Tuesdays she played Bunko with the girls
if they stayed well. Four hostesses took turns,
but Bunko games might soon be ending now
that Peggy had sustained a T.I.A.
Viola gave up sewing --well, the mess
that sewing left! The scraps, stray pins, loose threads!
The children came on weekends when they could
and helped with shopping, putting things away.
She understood how they had their own lives;
she'd told them so a hundred times or more.
So Fridays could be loneliest of all
on learning that the children couldn't come.
Well, getting a shampoo used up some hours
on Friday morning. She was home by noon.
She thought of volunteering, but she feared
she might not get the weekday she preferred.
She'd tell them she was free that day, of course.
They mustn't think time heavy on her hands.
One boring day, while talking to herself,
Viola said, "I wish the phone would ring."

(Sample poems above contributed by
Florence Bruce, the blogger.)

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