Writing Queron

Queron is a new poetic form I developed during the November 2009 Poem-A-Day Challenge hosted by Robert Lee Brewer at Writersdigest.com. Influenced by Rilke’s advice to “live the questions now,” I developed queron to support the way my mind engages questions—which is what it does when I write poems.

  • Counting syllables slows me down into a state of attentive curiosity.
  • Interweaving rhymes mirror the way the mind flashes back and forth as it grapples with questions.
  • The stanza breaks offer opportunities to shift the perspective of the poem and consider the central question from different angles.
  • The ending couplet can offer a sense of closure—whether an answer or a surrender to not having an answer.
Writing queron requires attention to meter, rhyme and content. Here’s the recipe:
  • Seventeen lines are grouped into three quintets and a final couplet.
  • Each line has an equal number of syllables.
  • Rhymes interweave in this scheme: ababa bcbca cdcdb dd.
  • The poem includes a question.

Having written about a hundred of these by now, I have found some insights that may be useful for newcomers to the form:

-- Syllable counts between six and fourteen per line seem to work best for me, though I have tried as many as twenty and as few as one. My friend Scooter (one of the very best poets I know) had better results when she loosened the syllable requirement so that syllable counts varied slightly from line to line.

-- Because the rhymes repeat four or five times each, I’ve found consonance and assonance preferable to “true” rhyme for their subtlety and versatility.

-- The question can be subtle. I used to try to make the first punctuate sentence a question, but that felt to rigid. Then I felt the poem should have a question mark in it. Now I feel that the questioning mood is the essential element, not the punctuation. So, I'm still questioning the questioning :)

An example of queron:

"Here ensconced"


This commute again: when San Quentin’s on the right
I’m going home. Tomorrow morning, the mountains
turning brown will lead the drive—if I can make it
across the bridge now without dozing off. Richmond-
bound traffic’s light. The exception confirms the rut,

but I would be disingenuous to complain.
Isn’t this the everyday scenery I choose?
Below these sweeping struts, barnacles raise their hands,
wave at the bay, then suck into their calcite rooms.
They emerge just far enough to feed and peep at

the deep beyond. We’re secure, enjoying fine views—
in truth, the view’s beyond beautiful. In my niche,
I muster acrimony as protective proof
for this tender bubble that could burst with a touch.
Saying “heaven isn’t much” serves as talisman.

We ward off becoming some leviathan’s lunch
pretending we suffocate in the life we clutch.


***


That’s queron. On the poetry-form spectrum from “get the recipe and go” (like clerihew or American-style haiku) to “meditate, craft and rework” (such as the sestina), queron falls on the slower, more deliberate end. It takes time and concentration to weave the rhyme and regulate the pace, and I find that this has often opened up new revelations for me as I explore the question. In short, this form offers what I like about poetry forms in general: a way to surprise my own thinking in the process of writing the poem.




PS: Here’s the TMI section with more background plus my bio, included for my own sense of completeness.


In looking for a new form, I wanted questioning to be a central aspect. Queron comes from query + sonnet. I was attracted to the length of villanelles, sonnets and John Berryman’s dream songs (18 lines split into three equal stanzas). Fifteen lines seemed about right, but as I developed the interweaving rhyme pattern, I found that a final rhyming couplet (as in Shakespearean sonnets) concluded the poems satisfyingly.

A few experiments that I’ve enjoyed with the form include:
- Extending it with extra stanzas following the interweaving rhyme scheme: ababa bcbca cdcdb dedec efefd … xx
- Attempting the one-syllable-per-line queron: “How / does / Dow / Jones / know // these / strange / trends / change? / Our // binge / and / purge / plans / rise // on / sand.”
- Receding the rhyming syllables back into the line with each repletion, so that the “a” rhyme, for example, is the last syllable of line 1, second to last in line 3, third to last in line 5, and so on.



Daniel Ari holds an MFA in poetry and has self-published 12 chapbooks since 1992. His poems have appeared in McSweeney’s, Pearl, Contact Quarterly, Chiron Review, Tattoo Highway, Jack Magazine, The Highest Number, and many more print and online venues. He has also recently co-created the poetry blog, IMUNURI (imunuri.blogspot.com).

Currently, Daniel is developing and presenting solo performances revolving around poems he loves including ones by Cummings, Millay, Yeats, Roethke, Oliver, and Williams. He has presented several pieces of this work at The Marsh Theater in San Francisco and The Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley as well as his home in Richmond.

Daniel leads poetry and creative writing workshops at The Richmond Art Center (Richmond), Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp (Yosemite), Improv Arts (Los Gatos) and at his home.

In the last quarter century, in addition to writing poetry, Daniel has written novels; published film, food and book reviews; performed original music, theater, and stand-up comedy; and written marketing copy professionally for a huge range of companies.

Comments

  1. Daniel, I write a column called "Poet Craft" for Poetidings, the newsletter of the New Jersey Poetry Society, Inc. In a future issue I'd like to feature your new poetic form, if that's all right with you. Of course, I would mention you as the originator.

    Salvatore Buttaci
    author of 200 Shorts

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  2. Sounds like a great challenge, Daniel. I plan to write and return to post.

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  3. Yeah...it was a challenge - I will admit to that! I gave it a (1st) shot and posted it over at Poetic Asides. I think it'll go up on my blog in just a few minutes, too. Thanks!

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  4. Dear Daniel..... The concept of the form is just so illustrative of you there is no question left as to why a form combining the existential and the classicism of the masters has waited for Daniel Ari to materialize! I am "off the radar" this weekend but will try my hand after I have more carefully processed. KUDOS... once again Daniel...a truly modern Renaissance man

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  5. Daniel, I am delighted to see your new form and hope to try it when I have a chance. I'm a stream of consciousness poet so writing to a form takes time for me.

    I will try to post my attempt somewhere along with your excellent representation of a queron.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Wanton

    Where does my muse go
    when night covers my
    desire to know -
    gone blink of my eye’s
    lid fading tableaux?

    Thoughts now red-eye sly
    sieved through lashes limp -
    images squeeze by
    like girls from their pimp
    alone on skid row.

    I can only scrimp
    pillow dreams from sight -
    a womanly wimp
    too afraid to fight
    my thrown words just cry:

    Can this barren night
    strip poetic blight?

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  8. Wonderful poem, Patricia. Love it.

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