Poetry Wednesday: Reversible Poetry Contest!

When I’m not hanging around Betsy’s place or Murderati or the FTF blogcircle or playing Poohsticks in the tweetstream, or actually working on my WIP,* I like to lurk in Janet Reid‘s territories** and learn stuff.

Like what an Alot looks like.

A few weeks ago, she introduced me to reversible poetry, which can be read up or down, line by line.

It was more of a reintroduction, actually, since it was used in various ads and PSAs several years ago. Some of you might recognize “The Lost Generation” by Jonathan Reed:

I don’t think I recognized this as poetry at the time, but my definition has expanded quite a bit since then.   I love the ones that change moods and meanings when they’re reversed, but even without that kind of reverse, you do get two poems at once, like semantic double-knit.

A few collections of reversible poetry have been published or posted recently, though I couldn’t find  much on the origins of the form.^  Maybe it’s just something someone tried when Palindromes palled, and a friend looked over their shoulder and said, well, how cool is that and tried a few that another friend thought were good, and so on, until a literary agent notices a couple of amazing examples on someone’s blog and holds a reversible poetry contest . . .which your faithful poetry nutjob saw and loved and borrowed in homage to everyone involved.

See?  Poetry is contagious.

These particular poems are both fun and weird to write—it’s like turning your imagination inside out and trying to see through your ears into the future.  Or it was for me, because (say it with me, now) I am not a poet.  And the last time I tried to double-knit with actual needles and yarn, I tied my thumbs together.

But because I could no more resist one of Ms. Reid’s contests than I could a milk-chocolate HobNob, I blundered on:^^

Happy days
May stay,
My love,
Despite our desperate schemes.
More gold than it gleams,
Life may be.
But still—
Life may be
Like nothing of our dreams;
Unlikely as it seems,
My love
May go away.
Sorry days

◊◊◊

Sorry days
May go away,
Unlikely as it seems.
Like nothing of our dreams
Life may be.
But still—
Life may be
More gold than it gleams.
Despite our desperate schemes
My love
May stay.
Happy days

But then I scrolled down to post my entry and realized she’d given a prompt:  candy.  I couldn’t work candy into the above, so I scribbled this out before lunch, which may explain the sugar shock:

Candy sour
Candy sweet
Most won’t last beyond the hour.
We give these choices so much power:
Chocolate bar
Pixie Stix—
Which will tell us who we are?
When is the tasting worth the risks?
Cinnamon star
Butterscotch discs—
Most think one flavor will complete,
As if the heart has one true treat
Candy sour
Candy sweet

◊◊◊

Candy sweet
Candy sour
As if the heart has one true treat,
Most think one flavor will complete:
Butterscotch discs
Cinnamon star—
When is the tasting worth the risks?
Which will tell us who we are?
Pixie Stix
Chocolate bar—
We give these choices so much power.
Most won’t last beyond the hour
Candy sweet
Candy sour

Again, not a poet.^^^ But these should give you an idea of how to write one of your own.

Which is what I’m asking you to do.  But you already knew that.

For those of you who are new around here, I don’t judge quality—I’m not qualified, poetry is too subjective, and the point of these is to try something new and have fun with it.

Here be the rules:

Write a reversible poem of no more than 100-words one way (or a 200-word limit for both halves, if that makes more sense).  No prompts, any subject you want.  Feel free to fool around with different punctuation in each half, since emphasis and pauses can help make it work.

Post the poem up and down (as above) with a space in between.  If you prefer to send your poem to me via e-mail instead, that’s fine with me—please use the address in the upper left corner there.  If you want to post it on your own blog, go for it and link back—I’ll check my spam folder for the duration.

Don’t tweet it to me—I’ll get confused.

As I mentioned during the Limerick Contest—and thank heavens I did, you reprobates—I have no problems with explicit poems, but if it goes past wink-wink, nudge-nudge, please e-mail it or I’ll remove it from the comments and mail it to your mother.°  If you’re not sure where that line is, e-mail me the poem and I’ll let you know.  I talk about my kids on this blog and I suspect my boss knows about it, so let’s keep up appearances, shall we?

Once your poem is posted or received, you’ll be entered into a drawing for the regular-sized mug of your choice from Café Press,°° who as far as I can tell will ship almost anywhere in the world.  At the end of the contest, all names will be put in Sunny’s pink cowgirl hat and the winner will be selected by the first family member I can find.

You have until midnight CST (that’s Chicago time) next Tuesday, which should be the 10th

So go pick up a pen and start  looking out of your ears!

_________________________________

*Hush.  It happens.

**Which include the QueryShark’s hunting grounds.

^ Even Wikipedia could only direct me to an article about a Markov Chain.  While I find the Markov system fascinating and oddly empowering—mathematics are often a random, memoryless process for me—and I suspect it holds a ton of analogy-potential, it doesn’t appear to be reversible and wasn’t particularly helpful for this post. But I’m keeping it in mind for later—that’s one Random Thursday that’s going to write itself.

^^ John S., I’ll understand if you want to avert your eyes and scroll past.  Edge up a bit when you hit the mug.

^^^And not the poem I actually entered.  The results haven’t been announced, yet, but the entries should still be up, if you’re interested.   Some of them are excellent, and I’m glad I don’t have to judge them.

° Kev, this is not to be taken as a personal challenge.  I mean it.  Chris gave me your mother’s e-mail address.

°° Or an equivalent online gift card, if you don’t want me to know your full name or postal address.

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17 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday: Reversible Poetry Contest!

  1. …I don’t know….that candy one was pretty good. When is the tasting worth the risks?
    Which will tell us who we are?

    Nicely woven thoughts into a poem.

    Anyway…I’ll think on this and see what I can come up with.

  2. My eldest daughter would disagree with you about sweet things lasting beyond the hour. If given the chance, she could make a Hershey’s kiss last through the day. She’s that dedicated.

    I agree with John. You did a great job.

    • I try to savor chocolate, but I don’t have the talent for it. I snuffle truffles like a you-know-what.

      And thank you—I hope you’ll be sending one in?

  3. Sweet poem! (Come on, where’s the groan?)

    Um, I think I’d have better luck making an Alot for submission, you know, with my mad poetic skillz and all…

    • Booooo!

      You have a week to write a poem that can be four lines long—c’mon, you know you want to give it a go.

      But I”m not above bribery—if your poem is pinned to an Alot (or the horns of a Dilemma) then I’ll toss your name in the hat twice! 🙂

  4. Oh, I don’t feel near this creative tonight! (And my entry would be nothing close to as great as yours.) But just want to add that the origin of the Alot is the blog Hyperbole and a Half, which is FABULOUS! (The link is on my blog.) Also, I had the pleasure of meeting Janet Reid in person,and she is every bit as wonderful, witty and sweet face-to-face.

    • I love Hyperbole and a Half—I wonder why I never added it to my blogroll?

      I saw Barbara Poelle at Bouchercon, but she was surrounded by people. I think Janet Reid was there, too—I thought I saw someone who could have been her, but couldn’t see the name tag . . . I’m a fan of more than half of her clients.

      • I met Barbara at the same conference. She was a hoot! And so friendly! She got a balloon hat later that evening and yelled across the crowd, “Sherry, look at my hat!” And she was responsible for the funniest rejection–a thread of several hilarious messages–I ever received. Anyone would be lucky to have her or Janet as their agent.

  5. (commence groaning for bad poetry)

    River Song
    Sailing along
    Hello Sweetie,
    Kiss the Time Lord.
    Amelia Pond
    Sometimes right sometimes wrong
    The Tardis
    Go for a ride on.

    Go for a ride on
    The Tardis
    Sometimes right sometimes wrong
    Amelia Pond
    Kiss the Time Lord
    Hello Sweetie
    Sailing along
    River Song

  6. Feeling a little weird tonight. Full moon and unnaturally warm. Anyway, here’s my first and only attempt at a reversible poem.

    It was reversible,
    She said.
    “Not so bad that it couldn’t be undone.”
    She shrugged.
    Most people liked that second nose on their forehead,
    But there are always unhappy customers.
    She figured that he would be unhappy
    No matter how many noses or arms or external pituitary glands he had.
    Some people were like that.
    “What should I do?” he asked of the witch.
    “Easy,” she said.
    Spit into the moonshine,
    Cross a babbling brook on your hands,
    And take a dose,
    A single dose:
    An earful of cider.

    An earful of cider,
    A single dose…
    And take A dose,
    Cross a babbling brook on your hands,
    Spit into the moonshine,
    “Easy,” she said.
    “What should I do?” he asked of the witch.
    Some people were like that.
    No matter how many noses or arms or external pituitary glands he had,
    She figured that he would be unhappy.
    Most people liked that second nose on their forehead.
    She shrugged.
    “Not so bad that it couldn’t be undone,”
    She said.
    It was reversible.

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