Don’t explain too much; avoid fancy words;
do not take shortcuts at the cost
of clarity; prefer standard to the offbeat;
make sure the reader knows who’s speaking
do not use dialect; revise and rewrite.
a found ronka poem from The Elements of Style
E.B. White is perhaps best known for Charlotte’s Web, but also contributed to the standard English-language style manual, The Elements of Style, originally written by William Strunk Jr.
Across the café, she pauses her writing.
Perhaps she saw or felt me staring.
Is that a notebook, workbook, or journal?
I want it to be her poetry.
The only heat here comes from coffee.
Poems on used envelopes. New England frugality.
Never meant for someone. Meant for everyone.
Answering mail with verse. And remaining silent.
Crossings-out, dashes, spaces, columns and overlapping planes.
One poem for each of fifty-two weeks.
These books present the later writings of Emily Dickinson – the 52 envelope poems.
transcription of the envelope poem at the top of this page
The hot days and cool nights marked
by garden tiger lilies and roadside rogues
and early cherry tomatoes that I pick
and eat here in my shaded chair –
book, pencil, paper, iced tea, these words.
There are several poetry forms that use a linked sequence of poems.
A crown of sonnets or sonnet corona is a sequence of sonnets, usually addressed to one person, and/or concerned with a single theme. Each of the sonnets explores one aspect of the theme, and is linked to the preceding and succeeding sonnets by repeating the final line of the preceding sonnet as its first line. The first line of the first sonnet is repeated as the final line of the final sonnet, thereby bringing the sequence to a close.
Renga, which means “linked poem,” goes back seven centuries in Japan. It was created in order to encourage the collaborative writing of poems. Poets sometimes worked in pairs or small groups and took turns composing the alternating three-line and two-line stanzas.
Finished renga could be hundreds of lines long, but the most common length was a 36-line form called a kasen.
It was several centuries after the renga that the opening stanza of the renga became its own short form, the haiku.
The ronka poems that appear on this site are 5 lines, but I started several this week that overflowed, so I think I will try at least a “double ronka” of two linked poems. The evolution of the ronka form continues.