Friday, February 7, 2020

Form Play: A Unicorn Villanelle


The Unicorn I Met
by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem is a villanelle, a special old form of poetry that is structured with 5 tercets (three line stanzas) followed by one quatrain (four line stanza). A villanelle repeats two lines over and over and also two rhymes over and over. Below, you can see where the repeating lines go and how the rhyme works. I have highlighted matching lines/rhymes.


Why did I write a villanelle today?  Well, why not?  I came home from teaching a workshop and this evening, I just thought to myself, "Self...write a villanelle!" So I did. My villanelle has 10 syllables per line, but this is not true of all villanelles.

Below you can see some of the villanelle organizational play in my notebook. This is a form that requires me to read and reread and reread again, listening to the repeating line, listening for what might happen next. There is a musical feeling to writing in this form, and I find it playful and joyful all at once.

Villanelle Notebook Play
by Amy LV

If you would like to read a couple of more villanelles I have shared in this space, you can do so here:

I Understand - January 4, 2013

It's been too long, and you can bet that I will be writing more villanelles soon.

Laura is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Writing the World for Kids with a lovely poem inviting readers to sing our own songs. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

11 comments:

  1. Wow! What I like about this villanelle is that at no point does it sound forced. It sounds like a song. Beautiful work. And, I like the color coding to show where the repetition falls.

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  2. I love this very accessible villanelle, Amy! Thank you for sharing examples that don't sound like they were written hundreds of years ago. I've written a number of villanelles, but they always sound...weighty. This is so light and delightful, even with the undercurrent of missing.

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  3. Yes, villanelle's are great to read aloud. I love this one, Amy, & the way your show how it's done, too. It would be wonderful to meet a unicorn!

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  4. I love learning from you, Amy! This is a form I have never tried, but I may give it a shot. It is so musical. You created a feeling of wonder for me.

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  5. Villanelles are hard, but yours is great! Thank you!

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  6. What a lovely form, the villanelle. I've never written one, but I'm adding it to my poetry "to do" list, Amy. I adore your poem, and especially love your peek at the process. That always fascinates me. xx Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

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  7. Gigantic smiles for a unicorn villanelle (just those two words are a wee poem, aren't they?). Stanza 5 has me so curious...they could have gone, but chose to stay. There is no proof, so don't even ask! The wist is fully expressed.

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  8. I'm with Linda B. would love to meet your unicorn… I'm especially fond of unicorns. The form works very well for your poem, and I like the soft melancholic voice–it reminds me a bit of "The Little Prince," and his dear rose.

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  9. So much magic in your unicorn villanelle! And the magical voice is not one I'd expect with a villanelle, but it works beautifully.

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  10. Ooh I am so glad there are more villanelles coming our way, Amy! This is wonderful. YOU are wonderful. xo

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  11. My writing friends and I wrote terza rima for this week. The challenge nearly did me in. Since it didn't maybe a villanelle is next. I love the musicality of this form. I had a student once who loved everything unicorn. I wish I could show her your poem. I sent it through Instagram hoping she will. And maybe she will understand that she is the friend who went away. Students leaving is the hardest part of my job.

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