12 August 2013

our lost jungle poetry form challenge: challege #2 - whisper, whisper, whisper

Welcome to the second challenge of the 2013 OLJ Poetry Form Challenge! (For more on what the OLJ Poetry Form Challenge is all about, check out this post.) Before we get to today’s prompt, think of your favorite verb. Think of the most musical word you know. Think of your favorite sonic sound—think of a word that sings with that sound. Think of a question you’ve been meaning to ask: is it a what, or a who, or a where, or a when, or a why? Think of an answer you’ve been longing to give, in one word. Yes, no, maybe.

Think of that word, and jot it down. We’ll come back to it later.

The OLJ Poetry Form Challenge #2: Whisper, Whisper, Whisper

challenge #2: whisper, whisper, whisper

When I gave this prompt to a poetry workshop, I made them make a list of words that “tasted like candy on [their] tongues.” Of course they wanted to know what that meant; of course, I refused to tell them, but instead asked them to think on it (what does it mean for a word to taste like candy? Is it sweet? Is it just delightful? Is it like a kiss to say?) and then just make a list. They had five minutes. Next, we played “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” with those lists and got it down to just one. My word was “whisper” (thus the title of the prompt).

Then we came to the prompt.

Today’s prompt is to write an anaphora poem. Also known as epanaphora (don’t you just love the sound of that?), anaphora is the “repetition of a word [or words] at the beginning of two or more successive verses, clauses, or sentences.” A lot of poets consider anaphora just the repetition of the same word at the beginning of each line. However, anaphora can be a lot more diverse, and subtle, than that. Sometimes the poet uses the same word/phrase; sometimes they use one word for a while, and switch to another in the next section/stanza.

jump in

Remember that word you wrote down earlier? Today’s prompt is to write an anaphora poem, but today’s real challenge is to write your anaphora using the word you wrote down. If any of you are anything like any of my former students, I can picture your faces right now. one student had both the misfortune and fortune of ending up with “taco.” He started off writing something of an “ode” to a taco, but soon started playing with the sound of the word and began using phrases like “tic-tac, o” and “take on.”

If you’d like to see one of my favorite examples of anaphora, check out Louise Glϋck’s “October (section I)” here.

Have fun with this form, and don’t forget: share your poetic attempts in the comments below, or email them to ourlostjungle@kharahouse.com for your chance to be this week’s “challenge winner” and have your poem featured in a special post on Friday!


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Join in the 2013 Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge!


  1. Interesting prompt. Challenging - the way I like it!

  2. My attempt at an anaphora

    1. Debi, the gotcha captcha kept gobbling up my response over at your website. Here's what I tried to post: "Could you? Could you? Such pining repetition. Left me longing for an old friend."

    2. Sorry about the "gobbling" but thank you so much for commenting here.

    3. It was my fault - I didn't have my settings right on the blog. Hope it works now.

  3. interestingly enough, my poetic asides poem from last week was very much like this. though it's not a response to this one, you can still read it here: http://heatherbutton.com/2013/08/08/holy-holy-holy-a-poem/

  4. Khara!! Thank you...your instruction is golden...on diversity and subtleties and your "word urging" in the beginning really helped to form a jumping point for me. This was so fun! :)


  5. I need to blue pencil this mercilessly, but I like the idea. Thanks, Khara. for the nudge. Not a form I'd take on otherwise.


  6. Oh, I like not completely sticking to the rules. Hoping this link works. If not. I'll be back...

    <a href="http://writingonthesun.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/anaphora-poem/”>Composing</a>

  7. Guess not. Sorry for messing up your comments,Khara. Retry:


  8. My try at Anaphora.


  9. Another great exercise, Khara.


  10. Working up a "real" one, but I think this one lightly qualifies...

    I Don’t Wanna Go Back to School

    I don’t wanna go back to school, don’t wanna
    go back to rules and rulers and things measured

    by some common core standards I don’t quite under
    -stand. Don’t wanna sit still or be quiet or stop

    the spill of my heartsong. I don’t wanna play
    along to belong or pretend to be strong when

    I need a good cry. I don’t wanna know why
    history always repeats itself and only the

    slightest pencil marks can be erased. I don’t
    want to trace cursive letters I will never use

    or wonder at the silence of being confused
    by figures my future may never have to

    fumble. I don’t want to stumble over phrases
    I cannot read, feed someone else’s inner need

    for boxes checked and quotas met. Don’t wanna
    stuff life into binders or put on blinders to keep

    out the exquisite chaos. I don’t want to calculate
    the rate of loss or gain down some symboled drain,

    or carry the one. I wanna multiply sun and sea
    and sand and mediate moonlight with bare hands

    and I wanna stay up late by starlight and sleep
    in and learn only the earth’s rhythms and the

    algorithms of my own tired, sacred skin. I
    don’t wanna go back to school; I wanna stay in.

  11. I wanna multiply sun and sea
    and sand and mediate moonlight with bare hands
    and I wanna stay up late by starlight

    Love it all, De

  12. Here's the one I originally intended:



Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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