For this week’s creative writing prompt/challenge we return to the world of poetry.
Today I’m asking you to write a Triolet, an eight-line poem.
Sounds simple, right?
Your subject can be anything you like, just find something to say that can be rhymed. Perhaps things that come in threes might be a starting point? Or something green?
The triolet has French origins – its name comes from the French word for a three-leaved clover plant.
Eight lines? Easy peasy, oui? Non? Guess what?
This style of poem has a very strict rhyme and repetition regime. The first line is repeated twice, and the second line is repeated once. And the rhymes are with those two lines only.
A – First line B – Second line a – Third line rhymes with A A – Fourth line repeats A a – Fifth line rhymes with A b – Sixth line rhymes with B A – Seventh line repeats A B – Eighth line repeats B
You’re right, you need an example. So here is one:
Valentine My heart has made its mind up And I’m afraid it’s you. Whatever you’ve got lined up, My heart has made its mind up And if you can’t be signed up This year, next year will do. My heart has made its mind up And I’m afraid it’s you. by Wendy Cope
And one more:
Birds at Winter Around the house the flakes fly faster, And all the berries now are gone From holly and cotoneaster Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster We used to see upon the lawn Around the house. The flakes fly faster And all the berries now are gone! by Thomas Hardy
Careful punctuation can help to move your meaning along. Be sure to get the rhythm right as you go – read your work out loud. A non-judgemental feline companion can sometimes help in this regard. Failing that, a creature of the canine persuasion. A dumb-struck humanoid type would be a last resort (until you are absolutely ready to share).
Reading aloud – not just in your head – allows you to hear the music of your words, to work out if they sound as good to the ear as they look on the page. Good luck!
* This picture is of Barney, one of the cats we brought to Ireland when we moved here in 2003. He’d have appreciated Thomas Hardy’s poem, and he was always available to be read to. Barney lived until he was 17, and we still miss him. The birds don’t.
** New here? Welcome! For the past year I have been posting a prompt to trigger new creative writing every Wednesday at 5pm, Dublin time. Sometimes I suggest stories, flash fiction, memoir, poetry, sometimes creative non-fiction, whatever. More info here.