Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So Much Depends: Imitative Poetry

The Gifts of a Wordsmith Adult Poetry Workshop meets at the Birmingham Public Library on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. I have found it to be a great place to experiment with the craft of poetry. It is a wonderful non-threatening environment to learn new techniques and try out new ideas.

Recently, the group examined imitative poetry. Imitative poetry often takes the form of parody. The Grand X Anthology of Poems, by William Zaranka is a fine collection of parodies written from Chaucer’s time to the present, containing over 400 pages of parodies of all the major poets, minor poets, and some unknown poets. I tried my hand at parody years ago with “Stopping by Publix on a Snowy Evening.” It was a parody of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and also a send up of the way we southerners panic at the hint of a couple of inches of snow.

Imitative poetry can also be an opportunity for the poet to experiment with the process of poetry. Our instructor provided some examples of famous poems so that we could try our hand at imitative poetry. One of the poems was one that I have long admired by William Carlos Williams:

The Red Wheelbarrow
By William Carlos Williams 

so much depends
upon 

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


I took advantage of our workshop time to think of an important time in my life and fashioned my poem by imitating William Carlos Williams’ brief evocative poem. Keeping the form and some of the words leaves no doubt as to the tip of the hat to the famous poet, yet the content is entirely reflective on my own experience.

The Yellow High Chair
By Charles Kinnaird

so much depends
upon

a yellow high
chair

glazed with Gerber
carrots

beside the gray
cat.




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"The Red Wheelbarrow" poem found at The Poetry Foundation
Picture found at English Teachers Everywhere



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