RoadWriter

Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Using stanzas to enhance your poetry

 

A few months back, I took an online songwriting course  with Pat Pattison. The course was given  by http://www.coursera.org an organization that allows anyone to enroll in free, online, university-level courses given through a number of institutions of higher learning.

One of the most interesting things I took away from the course was the notion of stable versus unstable. He argues that the number of lines, the line length contribute to the verse feeling either resolved (stable) or not (unstable). Even numbers of lines feel stable, uneven lines unstable.

So here is an experiment with a poem of mine.  Here is the original:

Traveling Man’s Blues

 blueroad

It used to be that all you’d need to travel round the states

was a couple hundred bucks and nerve to tempt the fates

by sticking out your thumb. Then you could cruise to anyplace.

I was bitten by the traveling man’s blues.

 

I hitchhiked up to ski country and there I learned to ski.

I found a real nice place to stay, at least it seemed to be,

but after just a month or three they all got tired of me.

Now I’m caroling the traveling man’s blues.

 

I moved on to Connecticut to swim in Candlewood Lake.

I camped out in the summer. In the fall I tried to break

into a cozy cabin. Boy, was that a big mistake!

Now I’m studying the traveling man’s blues.

 

They threw me in the slammer for a year or two or three.

That was the end of traveling for quite some time for me,

but I’ll be out of here real soon. And then, to where? We’ll see.

I’m stilling mastering the traveling man’s blues.

 

and here is a version with three line stanzas

Traveling Man’s Blues

 

It used to be that all you’d need to travel round the states

was a couple hundred bucks and nerve to tempt the fates

by sticking out your thumb. Then you could cruise to anyplace.

 

I hitchhiked up to ski country and there I learned to ski.

I found a real nice place to stay, at least it seemed to be,

but after just a month or three they all got tired of me.

 

I moved on to Connecticut to swim in Candlewood Lake.

I camped out in the summer. In the fall I tried to break

into a cozy cabin. Boy, was that a big mistake!

 

They threw me in the slammer for a year or two or three.

That was the end of traveling for quite some time for me,

but I’ll be out of here real soon. And then, to where? We’ll see.

I’m stilling mastering the traveling man’s blues.

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5 thoughts on “Using stanzas to enhance your poetry

  1. But now there’s no refrain. Not sure I like it better the second way.

  2. Interesting idea, Margaret about the number of lines impelling one forward. I almost like the first way that you had the poem better than the second.

    Susan Bernhardt
    http://www.susanbernhardt.comm

  3. Margaret, it’s an idea worth exploring. I know I like my story closings to link back to the opening or the title in some fashion.

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