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  • Celia Jenkins

Day One, NaPoWriMo 2020, Poetry Challenge

The beginning, day one. The letter 'a'. Acrostic? But no, I want to focus on trying something new. So I was interested to discover a poetry form that's like the acrostic (where the first letter of each line makes up a word), called a Telestich, where the word or phrase is formed by the last letter of each line.

The trouble with writing to specific forms rather than free form poetry is that you can sometimes find yourself forcing words or phrases to get a certain rhyme, or meter, or whatever, and that you might not be necessarily picking the best word for the poem. Hard to avoid. So I'm trying to think of themes for the poems which suit the form and aren't just squeezed into it. So for my telestich, which focusses on the end words, I tried to think of endings as a theme. Things coming to an end. I've written two telestich today (so far) but am just posting one here.

Leaving Japan

The fleeting bloom of the sakura

before the delicate blossoms fall

and drift, serene, on the pink-tinged waters of the canal.

Unstoppable yet still a shock, relationships changing

in the separation of what once was two,

how that time feels like an age ago,

saying a final farewell to a friend.

Useless possessions are given the boot,

a life-changing trip that comes with a catch.

The final glimpse of Mt. Fuji

before embarking, the next stage of your plan.

A decision you’ll soon be regretting?

This is the way the river flows.

It's probably no surprise that I've written about Japan. Actually, for a telestich, it was quite useful. In English, we don't have many words that end in 'a' or 'i', or at least not any that I wanted to squash into the poem. But 'sakura' (cherry blossom) and 'Fuji' worked perfectly here. So as the ending words spell out, I was inspired by the phrase All Good Things (come to an end). I was thinking about what it was like leaving Japan after living there for several years - the things I had to say goodbye to, the bittersweet price paid for having a great experience and then knowing it won't last forever, saying goodbye to friends who you won't see again... pretty self-explanatory.

So that's day one of #NaPoWriMo. I like the telestich. Acrostic poems sometimes feel a bit childish, probably because we had to do them in school, but despite the similarity, the telestich felt more challenging. I wonder which form I'll try tomorrow?

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