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April's challenge among my poetry sisters was the tritina, a poetic form that is essentially a mini-sestina. Like the sestina, which I defined and described in this post from last year, the tritina relies on the use of repeating end words and a sort of folding pattern.

Assuming that your end words are one, two and three, here is the order of use:

ONE
TWO
THREE

THREE
ONE
TWO

TWO
THREE
ONE

Envoi: using one, two and three (in that order, or possibly not, depending on whom you ask)


With only three lines per stanza and three end words, the notion of "folding" isn't quite as clear, and it means that the words come up far closer together than in the longer form. On the one hand, it makes it harder, because YOU JUST USED THAT WORD. Often literally (end one stanza with it, start the next with the same one). On the other, it's shorter than a sestina.

As many of my poetry sisters will tell you, and as anyone who has tried to write really good haiku, tanka, cinquains, and the like (basically, the forms I covered here during National Poetry Month in April) would likely say, writing a short poem is often far more difficult than writing long. It's kind of like that quote about letters by Blaise Pascal (also attributed to Mark Twain, Cicero and others).

I've had the first four words sitting on a notepad on my desk for months now, waiting for the rest of the poem to show up. And then I got this "write a tritina" project, with a choice of six end words: sweet, cold, hope, stone, mouth, and thread. I decided to write about the colors of silence, which for me come from things like weather (actual or emotional). I couldn't really explore this idea as much as I'd have liked, and may still write another poem about this, since I'd love to be able to talk about the other sorts of silences (anger, confusion, resentment, fear, anticipation) and their colors. But for today, here's my tritina:

Silence Comes in Colors
by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

Silence comes in colors, some of them sweet—
the orange space between a lover’s breaths, the cold,
white silence of snow, the greening swell of hope

whether in feathers or not. The absence of hope
is a harsher sickly lime—nothing sweet
about it, or its relative, despondency, a cold,

hard putty, so hard to scrape off. How refreshingly cold
the clean blue of reconciliation, or the hope-
tinged wish for reconnection. Sweet,

sweet the colors, warm or cold, when there’s hope.

You can find my sisters' posts at the following links:

Laura Purdie Salas
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Andromeda Jazmon Sibley
Tanita Davis
Sara Lewis Holmes
Liz Garton Scanlon

And for more poems this Poetry Friday, click the box below to get to Sylvia's blog:




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Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sara Lewis Holmes
May. 6th, 2016 11:38 am (UTC)
I hope you DO explore this further, Kelly---there's richness in colors and in emotions and in poetry and they entwine so well. Maybe a tritina for each emotion/color?

My favorite here is how you describe the absence of hope as putty, hard to scrape off---both the tangible feel of putty and the bland color of putty, together, are just...right.

kellyrfineman
May. 6th, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
Putty showed up almost unbidden, insistent on its inclusion, so I'm glad someone else agrees is was right. And I really liked that "silence comes in colors" notion, and still WILL play with it more.
Andi Sibley
May. 6th, 2016 01:34 pm (UTC)
"sweet the colors, warm or cold, when there’s hope."

This line pulls it all together, and opens so many doors. I really love how you have started to explore colors/feelings, and led us here.
kellyrfineman
May. 9th, 2016 10:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!
TS Davis
May. 6th, 2016 01:55 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of sickly green putty.
I think the envoi must be ONE, TWO, THREE because the poem should come full circle, I think. This is such a slippery form, but you managed to pin it down. I think I may try another one of these, or the sestina form again -- it bears delving into, as you said!
kellyrfineman
May. 9th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: I love the idea of sickly green putty.
I like the idea of 1, 2, 3 as well, but have seen it otherwise repeatedly, so . . . I mentioned the option.
Liz Garton Scanlon
May. 6th, 2016 03:02 pm (UTC)
The greening swell of hope -- YES. I love this poem, Kelly. It is so visceral and it begs to be read aloud....
kellyrfineman
May. 9th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Liz!
Linda Baie
May. 6th, 2016 07:35 pm (UTC)
response
I love the creativity of using colors with these words, and in your poem, the change of attention to "cold". It all depends on the feelings, doesn't it?
kellyrfineman
May. 9th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: response
Thank you, Linda!
Mary Lee Hahn
May. 7th, 2016 11:36 am (UTC)
"hope/whether in feathers or not"

LOVE!
kellyrfineman
May. 9th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
My little nod to Emily.
angeladegroot
May. 20th, 2016 03:55 pm (UTC)
I LOVE this poem! Brilliant, like you.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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