Spoken word battles are ancient really, like 5th century ancient, when flyting was cool! And they are cool again with rap battles and other spoken word events all around the world. One such word battle with origins in Italy is the stornelli (plural for the stornello, a straightforward three-line poetic form). Read on to find more about it.
This post contains Amazon and other affiliate links, that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support. Please see the full disclosure for more information. I only recommend products I definitely would (or have already) use myself
Poetic Sundays: The Stornello aka One of a Spoken Word Battle
October is Italian-American Heritage Month, among a few other Heritage months here in the US. Keeping this in mind, I am featuring the Stornello today, which is a form from Italy.
What is The Stornello Poetic Form?
So, as you already know by now, the Stornello is an Italian poetic form. In simple terms, a stornello is a tercet (three line stanza) with a syllabic count of 5-11-11 (or 10-11-11 or 11-11-11) and either monorhymed(aaa) or with the middle line having a near rhyme (AaA). It is normally part of a stornelli, where poets improvise as they compose stornello in response to a previous one from another poet.
The word stornello could stand for the Provencal estorn, which means contest; or it could be based on the Turscan stornare/storno, which means rebound, turn around, or bounce back. “Poetry slam” contests employing this tercet poetic form were popular in Tuscany in the 17th century (and as early as the 15th century too) where opposing poets would improvise and take turns as they reparteed. Sometimes, selected words were repeated and turned around as poets bounced back with an answer.
The Stornello’s Characteristics
So the Stornello’s elements are that it is:
- stanzaic: written in one or more three-line stanzas or tercets
- syllabic: a shorter line (of five syllables, while other sources indicate 10 syllables and even 11 syllables itself) followed by a couplet of 11-syllable lines
- rhymed: variations include monorhyme (aaa) – with a different monorhyme for each stanza; and the more popular AaA/BbB where the lower case indicates a near rhyme (like sun/scrunch/bun; or art/blurt/heart)
- one part of a stornelli, or a battle of words; when a second stornello is told in repartee to the first one, it becomes a stornelli (pl). These are usually comedic, sarcastic, slightly(sometimes more so) insulting, but always delightful; and hence
- also a poetic form that usually uses the name of a flower in that first short line (though not always needed)
My Attempt at the Stornello, well, the Stornelli
The Silent Battle (with imagined words – based on a true story!)
This yellow flower –
it is mine! For me, dear bee! Do you hear?!
Go away, find your own place, your own bower.
Phew! This plastic thing?
Keep it, dear hummingbird! But! Just. one. last. drink?
I promise! Aren’t I all honey, and no sting?!
~Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
Note: This pic is not too clear but you can see the bee at the bottom of the hummingbird feeder here. I watched the battle play out – no jokes about it – between the hummingbird and the bee. The hummingbird kept trying to drive away the bee, and they went up and down, and around the feeder in dizzy circles.. I have a video as well that I will try to upload here.. was delightful to watch (not sure how the participants were feeling)… While I have seen hummingbirds drive each other away (or are they just playing) to have solitary use of the feeder, this is the first time I saw a bee and bird in battle! It was all silent to me, of course, watching from my kitchen window as I was.
h/t, references, and further reading
On My Blog and the Homefront (No Spoken Word Battles here!)
I managed, once again, with some catching up over the last day or two
- Sunday Scribblings #117: So Glad for a World With Octobers!
- The Magic of Many Worlds: Being a Part of Something More
- Ten(+) Timeless Bookstores in India That Everyone Should Check Out
- Bid Goodbye to the Golu Dolls For This Year
- 13 Things to Love About Fall
- Five for Friday: The Flowers Make Us Happy Edition
- Back to Normal? Kind of. Great!
On My Blog and On the Homefront
Hope to keep posting…and get back our home fully back on track (did I mention I still have some autumn-cleaning of the garage left to do? And my closet is one space that forever needs an overhaul!)
Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)
- Literary birthdays this week include: R. K. Narayan, Kota Shivaram Karanth, Sivasankari, Harold Pinter and Nora Roberts on Oct 10th; Thích Nhất Hạnh and Richard Paul Evans on Oct 11th; Julie Kagawa on the 12th of Oct; Conrad Richter and Emily Gould on Oct 13th; e.e. cummings, Ocean Vuong, and Katherine Mansfield on Oct 14th; Helen Hunt Jackson, Virgil, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mario Puzo, P. G . Wodehouse, Michael Monroe Lewis, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, and Roxane Gay on the 15th of October; Eugene O’Neill and Oscar Wilde on Oct 16th
- Freethought Day is October 12 (celebrated during the week of this date across many states)
- October 13th is International Plain Language Day. So I am going to ensure that my post for the day is written in plain language. And maybe will have a little fun competition of sorts too, since it is also National Train Your Brain Day
- The 16th is National Dictionary Day, created in honor of Noah Webster’s birthday (October 16, 1758). So open a dictionary, learn a new word or two. Here is one way to learn some interesting things about words you thought you knew.
- October 10th kicks off the week with sweetness as it is National Angel Food Cake Day and National Cake Decorating Day. It is also World Porridge Day
- The 12th of October is National Gumbo Day (I need to look for vegetarian gumbo options to try at home. Do let me know if you have any suggestions)
- Those colorful candies everyone knows of is celebrated on the 13th of October; it is National M&M Day
- October 14th pretty makes it a free-for-all for those with a sweet-tooth for it is National Dessert Day
- And many desserts need eggs! Which is great, because the second Friday of each October is World Egg Day.
- National Cheese Curd Day is observed on October 15th.
- The 16th of October is World Food Day, observed by over 150 countries around the world. It’s goal – “Leave NO ONE Behind.”
Other Celebrations and Observations
- It is World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October, as well as Indigenous People’s Day.
- Another month-long observation is I’m Just Me Because Month, which invites everyone to just “Be Yourself!”
- October 11th observes International Day of the Girl Child. It is also National Spread Joy Day, which of course can and should be everyday.
- The 12th of October, being the second Wednesday of this month, celebrates an age-old toy; it is International Top Spinning Day, and also National Stop Bullying Day
- October 13th is International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, with this year/decade’s efforts on “Substantially increasing(e) the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.” We can do our part by ensuring we have an emergency supply kit at hand.
- The 13th (or rather the second Thursday of October) is also World Sight Day, started by the WHO in partnership with the IAPB with the aim of increasing eye-care coverage across the world.
- World Standards Day is observed annually on the 14th of October. Having a set of standards to work with across industries (no matter what type) helps in so many ways; for one, it definitely improves communication and efficiency
- The 15th of October (2nd Saturday of Oct) is World Singing Day!! Oh so fun. Check out these fun ideas on their site. It is also the International Day of Rural Women.
- October 16th celebrates the concept of dignity – that “Every person has equal, inherent value” – with Global Dignity Day
Related Reads About Spoken Word Battles and More
- Bouts-Rimés: Best Be Ready For A Bout
- 10 Great Books for International Day of the Girl Child
- R.K. Narayan’s The Guide: From Wonderful Books to Movies
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 stornello? And, of course, do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?