the ramage

Apr. 4th, 2009 11:41 am
[personal profile] teenytinypress
Have you ever heard of a form of poetry Robert Bly developed that he calls the "ramage"? At Half Price Books the other day, I happened upon a small illustrated book of poems by Bly called Turkish Pears in August, a reprint from Eastern Washington University Press of a book previously issued in a tiny letterpress edition. It is such a nicely done little book; I couldn't pass it up! I hadn't heard of this before, but Bly came up with a form where you have 8 lines, each of which with around 10 syllables, and the whole poem is centered around some particular sound/syllable like er, um, or, ah, etc. So the poem ends up having a series of usually subtle internal rhymes.

This blogger quotes
Bly's explanation from a Best American Poetry where one of the poems appeared. I like the idea in Bly's explanation about "the delicious flavor of the small sounds reappearing like raisins in a muffin."

The form reminds me of ottava rima but without the iambic meter and the end rhyme. I was interested in ottava rima in grad school, largely, I think, because I was really stuck writing-wise and the shortness plus the contraints of the form helped me to be able to actually finish some poems. It's kind of like a mini-sonnet. I was Googling to see if I could find my favorite poem in this form, "How Did It Seem to Sylvia" by Gjertrud Schnackenberg, but it doesn't appear to be online. I can remember several lines of it from memory, but not the whole poem; I'm pretty sure the last lines are: "The only one who understood the joke, / she slipped out well before the last glass broke."

Anyway, I think I might experiment with Bly's form as I like the size of it and the emphasis on sound in a somewhat quiet way. I thought some others of you might be interested in this form, too.

Date: 2009-04-04 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyria.livejournal.com
Ooo, I like this form -- thanks! :D

Date: 2009-04-05 06:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mandypoet.livejournal.com
It's kind of fun to experiment with, and short enough to avoid toooo much frustration. ;)

Good luck with your interview!!

Date: 2009-04-05 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] letterpressed.livejournal.com
as I remember is a bit of a misogynist dick? I read Iron John a book about Men when I was in high school, it was given to me as a gag gift but a teacher, and it was... interesting.

Date: 2009-04-05 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mandypoet.livejournal.com
Yeah, he is known for the "men's movement" which is not something I've done much research into myself. I like this book of poems OK, but it's a little irritating how he presents women's roles in a pretty wifely way.

Some of his poems are too spiritual for me to know what he's talking about, but some of the shorter ones like in this book are more focused on images, etc.

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