Today’s poetic form is of French origins and called the Rimas Dissolutas. And the featured book is a wonderful bilingual anthology titled Red Hot Salsa.
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The Rimas Dissolutas Poetic Form
Today I took a roundabout journey to land on the rimas dissolutas form, literally! I experimented with a couple of other forms, and then when I saw the NaPoWriMo prompt for the day, I experimented with a couple others still, until…. Anyways, let us move on to learn more about the selected form of the day: the Rimas Dissolutas.
What is the Rimas Dissolutas?
The rimas dissolutas is a poem of French troubadouric origins which has no rules for meter, stanza lengths, or even the number of syllables, except for consistency across the stanzas. It does have a rule for rhyming, that there is no rhyming within any stanzas, but that each stanza rhymes with the others, line by line. That is line one of each stanza should rhyme with the first line in every other stanza, and so on.
The Rimas Dissolutas’s Characteristics
So the Rimas Dissolutas’s elements are that, at its most basic, it is:
- stanzaic: two or more stanzas of uniform length of poet’s choice, with an optional envoi at the end. If an envoi is included, it is usually about half the length of the stanzas.
- isosyllabic: number of syllables per line is per poet’s choice, but should be constant across lines and stanzas
- rhymed (and unrhymed!): no rhyming permitted within a stanza, but line n in each stanza must rhyme with the same line in every other stanza (external rhyming). If an envoi is included, it follows the rhyme scheme of the latter half of the stanzas.
This is how it looks
For example, this is how a poem with two stanzas of five octosyllabic lines each would look
And this is how a poem of three pentasyllabic quatrains (three-line stanzas) with an envoi would look:
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asks you to write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.
Life’s Endless Stairways
Once upon a time and a place,
I met a tot who loved me so,
My afternoons were soon not mine
And her mom, to say her thank you,
Dinnered me each day with delish!
All too soon I joined the rat race.
To the sweet tot, no more hello.
Days lost deadline after deadline,
Till one day, right out of the blue,
A pink slip landed on my dish!
Life now took a leisurely pace
From what was always go-go-go.
Glad I was no longer in line
On that strange seemingly (un)true
Escher’s stairs I always wish-
-ed I could with utter ease trace
on sketch pads since that long ago
I saw it in a magazine,
And wondered, why do we pursue
all we do? Won’t it all vanish?
~ vidya tiru @ ladyinreadwrites
Some context (optional read)
When I first moved to the US, I made friends with a little girl (she was barely two at the time), and quickly became her favorite playdate. As I was not working at the time, I spent most of my afternoons at their home keeping her occupied, while her mom (a fabulous cook) did her chores for the day (which included yummy dinners).
Since I normally stayed till just before dusk, I would return home with some part of her dinner (maybe a side-dish or even a main dish) so I could put together a quick meal for my DH and me. My DH’s first question would inevitably be – ‘what did you bring from our friend’s place today?’ because…
Anyways, starting a career meant saying goodbye and then losing touch with them over the years. Though my DH did attend that tot’s HS graduation (I was away at the time) more recently! I am yet to meet her and maybe will see her at her place of work now (she was studying to be a doctor).
I said goodbye to a full-time job (or rather, my job did that to me), and today, I freelance, blog, read, and write, and relish in mom-moments. As for the piece of art, Escher’s surreal sketches caught my fascination when I first saw them in a Reader’s Digest article ages ago, as a tween (maybe?!)
Red Hot Salsa
Title: Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States
Edited by: Lori Marie Carlson
Introduction: Oscar Hijuelos
Publishers: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (April 1, 2005)
Genre: Poetry for Teens & Young Adults (12 – 17 years, and up)
Editor Lori Marie Carlson has brought together a stunning variety of Latino poets for a long-awaited follow-up. Established and familiar names are joined by many new young voices, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos has written the Introduction. The poets collected here illuminate the difficulty of straddling cultures, languages, and identities. They celebrate food, family, love, and triumph. In English, Spanish, and poetic jumbles of both, they tell us who they are, where they are, and what their hopes are for the future.
Why I picked this
While it has been a longtime plan of mine to learn to speak and/or read Spanish, I am yet to start (with focus) towards that goal. However, I picked up this book for a couple of reasons;
- one, I had read and enjoyed a bilingual book similar to this one last year – Juan Felipe Herrera’s Laughing Out Loud, I Fly
- two, the title and theme of this book pulled me right in
Like with Laughing Out Loud, I had my daughter read some of the Spanish poems out loud, and it was wonderful simply listening to her. I felt proud that she could read it out loud though she still had trouble translating everything there (she has had just one year of Spanish classes so far!).
Some More Thoughts: About the Book and What I Loved
As with any anthology, the book has poems that wow and others that are just fine (though more that I loved here than not), and touching upon various themes with varied voices as well. Given the subtitle of this book, it deals with feelings of belonging and not as well, of cultural expectations and pride, about learning to balance between two cultures and “two you-s,” of dreams and goals and being you. And of course, I loved the discovery of so many new(to me) poets through this collection.
The poems are separated by categories, including: language, identity; neighborhoods; amor; family moments, memories; and victory. Many of the poems are first shown in their English version with the Spanish translation on the facing page, while a few other poems are truly bilingual with English and Spanish lines mingling with each other on the same page! This mix makes it feel that the two languages are dancing a red hot salsa, and makes for a great reading experience (even for those of us who might not know either of the languages). Note that some poems are originally written in English and translated to the Spanish version, while with others, it is vice versa, adding to the variety in its own way.
Read everything from the Editor’s Note and the Introduction at the start to the glossary and the poet bios included in the backmatter.
Some Favorites (?)
I embarked on a fool’s journey when I started listing out my favorites, turns out, I marked almost all the poems! But I decided to randomly pick a couple from each category anyways in the end:
- Invisible Boundaries by Ivette Alvarezz
- My Graduation Speech by Tato Laviera
- New in New York by Carlos Aguasaco
- Calling All Chamacos! by Jacinto Jesus Cardona
- First Kiss by Raquel Valle Senties
- Bilingual Love Poem by Jose Antonio Burciaga
- Martin and My Father by David Hernandez
- This is for Mamacita by Willie Perdemo
- Piece by Piece by Luis S Rodriguez
- Look to the Sun by Sandra Maria Estevez
A powerful poignant read that everyone can and should read (tween and above, though can work for younger audiences too)
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear readers, have you read the featured book? Or any similar reads? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. What do you think about the rimas dissolutas poetic form? Will you attempt it yourself, with the suggested prompt?
For previous posts in the challenges for this month, check out the links below:
Day 0 Day 1 – A Day 2 – B Day 3 Day 4 – C Day 5 – D Day 6 – E Day 7 – F Day 8 – G Day 9 – H Day 10 Day 11 – I Day 12 – J Day 13 – K Day 14 – L Day 15 – M Day 16 – N Day 17 Day 18 – O Day 19 – P Day 20 – Q