Life is made up of laughs and sighs and other wonderful plus not so wonderful things. But in the end, it – life, I mean – is what we make it.
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Poetic Sundays: The Grook Poem (Grooks aka Laughs and Sighs)
So what is the connection between my post title and the Grook? Well, some people say that the word grook or gruk seems to be a combination of two words ‘GRin & sUK’ (“laugh & sigh”, in Danish), but the creator of this poem type – Piet Hein – said he felt that the word had come out of thin air. Anyways, I decided to use that possible origin of the name for my post.
It is always possible that the ‘thin air’ Piet referred to was some random connections his mind made between these two words! We all do that every so often, right?
Also, I was contemplating on how life is so really full of ups and downs, laughs and sighs, life and death, joys and sorrows, when this past weekend saw us waking up to the news of a cousin becoming a grandmom and the day ended with the news of another cousin’s mom’s succumbing to cancer. We welcomed one life and bid goodbye to another all in the matter of 24 hours in our family.
What is the Grook Poem?
The Grook poem is less a poetic form than an invention of Danish poet Piet Hein. He started publishing them in April 1940, shortly after the Nazi occupation, using the name Kumbel Kumbell. They appeared in a daily newspaper of the time, as a spirit-building coded form of passive resistance (source).
A grook is a short aphoristic poem, characterized by irony, paradox, brevity, satire, and more, and employing a precise use of language, often times rhyming. It can be humorous or heartfelt, can be serious or sweet, rhyming or not, and does not have any other rules that the writer needs to follow.
The Grook’s Characteristics
So the Grook’s elements are that it is:
- aphoristic: an aphorism is defined as a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
- short: try to keep it as short as you can. The longest ones by Piet Hein I have read seem to be around eight lines.
- often rhyming
- often accompanied by a short related pencil/pen sketch in black and white
- free of any other rule of rhythm or meter or syllabic count or etcs.
How to Write a Grook, or Something Between Laughs and Sighs
- Read a lot of them (check out the examples in the links listed in the next section). They will surely inspire you to get started on writing your own.
- Pick any topic that appeals – sociopolitical, economic issues, social media trends, people today, trends and mannerisms, well, just about anything – and see how you can come up with an aphorism for it.
- Use the aphorism cleverly to write your grook!
I know, not really as detailed as you might have hoped, but reading and feeling is what will get those grooks coming!
h/t, References, and Further Reading
- Wikipedia page about the Grook
- Grooks: A Small Window on a Large World (archimedes-lab)
- More Grooks by Piet Hein
- Selected Piet Hein Grooks
My Attempt at the Grook
I attempted it once before, here on this post. But today’s attempt is below (minus the sketch, which I hope to add later):
Not Always Silver
Fewer words would easily suffice
When our thoughts are not so nice.
Better yet, listen to these words wise –
“Silence is golden” – so profane and concise!
And on an aside –
Fewer words also easily suffice
When we feel less than wise!
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
On My Blog And the Homefront
This past week’s posts
- Sunday Scribblings #121: The Day of the Dead: One Sure Way to Bring Fun Into It
- The Magic of Tricks and Treats & Candy and Calaveras
- On Unlikeable Characters In Books That I Love
- 7 Unique Stress Busters For All and Books Too
- To Be Honest – A Late Cliches Post (Better Late Than Never)
- Five For Friday: Fun and Fascinating Facts About the Fountain Pen
As for the home-front, we visited our oldest at his campus – this is the longest we have been without seeing him (or seemed like that this time around).
On My Blog and On the Homefront
Oh well, you will know over the week (I am still figuring it out!) But, we have a shorter week due to Veteran’s Day on the 11th.
Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)
- Literary birthdays this week include: Albert Camus, Sabaa Tahir, and Yuyi Morales on the 7th of November; Bram Stoker, Margaret Mitchell, Raja Rao, Lauren Oliver, and Kazuo Ishiguro on Nov 8th; Anne Sexton, Janet Fitch, and Carl Sagan on Nov 9th; Oliver Goldsmith, Caroline Kepnes, and Neil Gaiman on 10th Nov; Kurt Vonnegut, Carlos Fuentes, Abul Kalam Azad, and Fyodor Dostoevsky on Nov 11th; DeWitt Wallace on Nov 12th; Robert Louis Stevenson on the 13th of Nov
- This week is the Fall Children’s Book Week
- Nov 12th is National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day
- International Tongue Twister Day – Second Sunday in November
- It is National Book Award Week (Nov 7 – 13th)
- The 7th of November is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
- followed by National Cappuccino Day on the 8th
- National Vanilla Cupcake Day is on Nov 10th
- Nov 11th celebrates the sundae (why, I am not sure, considering it is colder) with National Sundae Day
- National French Dip Day is observed on the 12th
- While Nov 13th is National Indian Pudding Day
Other Celebrations and Observations
- The 7th is International Day of Medical Physics celebrated on this date in honor of Marie Curie who was born on Nov 7th, 1867.
- Nov 8th is National STEM/STEAM Day as well as World Radiography Day and World Pianist Day!
- 9th Nov is World Freedom Day and World Adoption Day
- National Forget-Me-Not Day and World Science Day for Peace and Development are celebrated on the 10th. It is also World Quality Day (Second Thursday in November)
- Nov 11th is Veterans Day as well as Remembrance Day; it is also International Origami Day
- World Kindness Day is on the 13th of Nov
- This week is also National Recycling Week
Wrapped Up: My Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. Will you be attempting to write the Grook? Or what were your laughs and sighs this week; or just one of them too? And, of course, do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?