09 January 2010

Jazz Man

Visual Poetry by Individualist

Author’s Notes:

This poem ending up being the result of my exploring another Victorian era form of poem with repeating lines, the Triolet and my exploration with a new type of foot to use in a poem, the Dactyl foot .

A Triolet is a simple one stanza eight line poem which starts out with two base lines as does a Villanelle (see the poem Spirits for an example). The third line of the poem rhymes with the first base line. The fourth line of the poem is the first base line repeated. The fifth and sixth lines rhyme with the two base lines respectively. In my poems here I have reversed this order to get a mirror like symmetry because for this poem it appealed to me and it helped to illustrate the visual aesthetic of the my art form. (The other truth is also an initial error of mine in writing the first poem which I decided to keep.) The following article by Conrad Geller a teacher of poetry is found here (link to How to write a Triolet).

I wrote three triolets (stanzas of eight lines) and decided to rotate the base lines used in each poem. The second stanza starts its first base line with the second line of the first stanza. The third poem uses the two base lines of the first however it reverses the order. I have broken each stanza into two visual frames and each frame itself uses two comic box separations which represent two lines of the poem. This breaks the rule of a picture frame associated with each stanza however I feel just as a sentence in a poem is allowed to cross two lines that a stanza in a visual poem should be allowed to cross frames. The base lines of the poem then are repeated in the top of the first frame and the bottom of the second frame. For each of the three poems I used a similar picture with slight changes to match the slight change in the lines. I got Corel Draw for Christmas so I have a tool to really work with the pictures and clip art now. I used this to draw the frames for each stanza in a different artistic style. In this way the repetition of the poem can be enhanced by the visual framing of the pictures. To accentuate the actual eight lines of the stanza of the poem I put a sort half break frame between them.

The next experiment was with a new type of foot for the poem that provided a metaphor for a Jazz Beat (I know in Jazz it is a back beat but the musical tone sounded like a beatnik Jazz poem to me. I must confess all I know of that style is what I have seen in movies so I am ignorant here.) This is the Dactyl foot which in English is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables (BOOM boom boom) like a Tom Tom drum beat. The example poem used to explain this was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. The following link describes this form (Link to Dactyl foot).

This poem however did not seem to follow a set meter so I decided on my own, four dactyl foots per line for a total of twelve syllables:

(BOOM boom boom BOOM boom boom BOOM boom boom BOOM boom boom)

I guess using the normal poetic parlance I should call the Dactyl tetrameter however that sounds line a strange type of flying dinosaur to me. In keeping with the musical theme of the poem I think I will refer to this a Poetry in three quarter time.


  1. Nice, I can almost hear the band!

  2. Thanks Andrew,

    I appreciate the compliment. I have been researching poetic forms and am finding how the set rules and meters for a poem can really enhance the way it is read. Plus I have a new toy to play with using the Draw program. It is a lot of fun.

  3. Found this thru the links from Big Hollywood, and I must say -- Good Job!

    It flows nicely & tastefully, and the pictures really add to the experience. It evokes warm memories for me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where I used to live. :) Well done.

    -- Nick1970 (yeah, THAT guy)

  4. Hi Nick,

    I really appreciate the compliment. Jazz music is the best. The idea for the Visual Poetry is inspired by the book "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud. He is a famous cartoonist with some interesting ideas on sequential art (Comics). It gave me the idea for including the abstract pictures as part of the poetic medium.


    Again thanks for the comments.