So these past couple of weeks or more, my son’s college applications’ results are coming in; and it has all been a ‘Congratulations, you have been admitted to xyz’ so far. Now, our brains are scrambling and thinking in all directions; driving or flying those future paths to drop him off or to visit him every so often, and all those other thoughts parents most likely will start thinking as their child heads off to the world outside.
For now, we are waiting for everything else to come through; and then, we will try to stop thinking in all directions!
The Blues Poem
It is the last day of Black History Month. While that certainly does not mean we keep celebrating or honoring people of color and working towards a more inclusive world, I wanted to celebrate this month one last time during the month. So here for Poetic Sundays is the Blues poem.
What is the Blues Poem?
A Little Personal Backstory
My son and I recently watched the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? And it was O So Wonderful! Reading about the blues poem reminded me of the movie and its beautiful haunting yet happy songs.
The Blues Poem Backstory
And that is exactly what the blues poems are about.
They spring from music and talk about sadness, suffering, struggles, life itself. And they talk about this with just a touch of humor, of sarcasm and irony, with a hint of wisdom that comes from going through life. The blues poem is about strength and resilience in the face of struggles and hardships. Of taking life head on, and of doing it together. Thinking about the movie, and reading about this form tells me the blues songs were one of the things that helped the slaves working in the farms all those ages ago looking forward and simply living their lives.
So What is the Blues Poem?
The traditional blues stanza has three lines. The second line repeats or is a close variation of the first followed by a third rhyming line. It has any number of such three line stanzas (or triplets); sometimes broken down into six-line stanzas while writing.
These poems are thematic as mentioned earlier, and in Langston Hughes words “Too sad to be funny, and too funny to be sad.” The poems are lyrical, rhythmic, and a beautiful tradition carried over from rich music.
Additional Reading References
Below are two wonderful articles about this form that I thoroughly enjoyed!
- Teaching With Blues (PoetryFoundation)
- The Blues and Langston Hughes (BBKing Museum)
- Music in Poetry (Smithsonian)
The Blues Poem’s Characteristics
So the Blues poem’s elements are that it is:
- stanzaic: composed of any number of triplets (three-line stanzas); sometimes each line is broken down into two making each stanza a six-line one.
- rhymed: AAa, BBb, CCc, and so on. Rhyming patterns can repeat or not for each triplet.
- thematic: themes of sadness, struggle, lamentations with a touch of sarcasm, humor, wisdom.
- structured: Line two repeats line one (or is a very close variatin of line one). Line three often introduces an extension or a twist – with humor or wisdom or as the poet choses.
- rhythmic: the blues songs are typically set to twelve bars of music in 4/4 time (so the poet can chose to write their blues poem with this in mind; should they chose to set their poems to music!). Note that this poem is not strictly syllabic but following a similar syllable count across the lines can lend to the rhythm it requires.
- repetitive: the repetitive nature of the lines lend to the effect – both the emotional and lyrical/musical ones.
My Tips On How To Write It – By Thinking In All Directions
Listen to blues music; read blues poems by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Weldon Johnson and so many more.
Pick your topic – the one which you can write a ‘sad funny’ poem about. And feel free to repeat lines one and two for each stanza; which means you actually only need to think of two lines for each three-line stanza!
Once you are in the zone, write as many triplets as you can, and there you have it – your first blues poem.
And if you want to, set it to music and perform it too!!
Here are my first attempts. I am not happy with the rhythms yet but enjoyed writing them.
My first attempt (written in triplets with L1 and L2 close variations of each other)
This One Needs a Title
Put away your worries, my dear
Do shed those worries, my dear
I’m right here, never fear
Brighten up your face, my heart
Lighten up your face, sweetheart
Your smile is my day’s best part
Rest here a while, my sweet
Take a deep breath, my sweet
Relax dear and put up your feet
– Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
My second attempt (written as six-line stanzas with lines one and 2 almost repetitions)
A Wintery Spring?
Spring is coming,
said the morning sunshine
Spring is here,
said the morning sunshine
Until winter said
with a chilling noon, whatever, fine!
Goodbye cool winter
said the longer day.
Bye Bye chill winter
said the longer day.
Until bone chill nights
that said, not yet, no way!
– Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
On My Blog
I am still working on a late shift for each day’s post but managing a post each day. Here are last week’s post
- Sunday Scribblings #61: Of the City By the Bay
- Magic Mondays – Dinosaurs, Cats, and Smart Girls
- Top Ten Punny Titles I Need to Read Now & The World in Your Lunch Box
- Blast From the Past: An Author Interview & An Ode
- Two Terrific Books About Our Wonderful World
- Fairy Tales and Finding Magic in Life
- These Wonderful Species Disappearing? Hope not..
And the Home Front
Well, aside from those college application results coming in, it looks like the weather is still making up its mind. Winter? Spring? Or a little bit of both each day??
On My Blog and Home Front
Considering we have Women’s History Month and other cool celebrations coming up, I have some ideas in mind for the books I plan to feature as well as other blog posts (bookish and non-bookish).
On the home front, not much as we continue regular work and school routines (remotely still for us, as of now).
This Week’s Celebrations
Will Have You Thinking In All Directions
Literary and Other Celebrations:
- Zero Discrimination Day – 1 March 2021 (UNAIDS.org)
- World Music Therapy Day – March 1st; and music is definitely therapy. My teenager plays his piano to relax and it helps all of us too as he plays.
- National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) is on March 2nd; and I believe I have so many recommendations for you here already!!
- It is also World Teen Mental Wellness Day on March 2nd; and this past year with the pandemic having impacted everyone, the toll on teens and young adults has been definitely high.
- March 2nd also happens to be National Old Stuff Day; so find a way to reuse, recycle, and repurpose your old stuff. Kind of like I am doing with my old blog posts of late!
- While I want you to be happy every day, this sentiment has a day of its own. And that happens to be March 3rd. As far as I am concerned, we should celebrate National I Want You to Be Happy Day not just on the 3rd, but everyday!
- World Wildlife Day is celebrated on March 3rd annually. I have fond memories of attending a wildlife camp organized by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) one childhood sumer
- It is National Grammar Day on the fourth of March.
- World Book Day (UK/Ireland) is celebrated in the UK and Ireland on March 4th (A similar event is celebrated April 23rd here in the US).
- Celebrate your sons on March 4th for it is National Sons Day
For the Foodie In Me, & You, This Week Has Yummy Celebrations:
- Start off the week with some healthy(-as can be) treats with National Fruit Compote Day and National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day on the 1st of March
- Then dish up some delights with National Banana Cream Pie Day on March 2nd
- And National Pound Cake Day on the 4th of March
- Is it a coincidence that March 6th is National Oreo Cookie Day , National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, as well as National Dentist Day? Considering the other foodie holidays this week too!
- Next Sunday, your breakfast can easily be some cereal and flapjacks, because that is what March 7 celebrates (National Cereal Day and National Flapjack Day )
Month Long Events
- Of course this month is Women’s History Month. Check out the linked website (.gov) for activities and virtual events.
- Maybe it is time for me to get crafty, for it is also National Craft Month.
- It is also Irish American Heritage Month in March. So I will be certainly try to read at least one book by an Irish American author (and there are so many to pick from!)
- March is also National Trisomy Awareness Month
And This Coming Week
- Newspapers in Education Week – First Saturday in March
- Read an E-Book Week – First Full Week in March. I read e-books everyday, so why not this week too!??
- Words Matter Week – First Full Week in March
- Teen Tech Week – Starts First Sunday in March
- Women in Construction Week – First Full Week in March. Time for me to go researching so I can feature these inspiring women
- Telecommuter Appreciation Week – Always the Week of Alexander Graham Bell’s Birthday – March 3. Well, we have all been telecommuting for the whole year; so this has certainly been an appreciation year!!!
- Will Eisner Week – March 1-7 – this is to encourage us to read, experience, dream in graphic art form.
- Oh well, I couldn’t resist adding this one; it reminded me of, well, me!! National Procrastination Week – First two weeks in March (or when it is convenient)
Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, this was it for my Sunday Scribblings. I would love to hear your comments on my post(s), poetic Sunday section, and anything else. And which of these days do you plan to celebrate (or any other)? Also, I do look forward to reading your poems (if you have attempted one or the other forms so far?!)
Do you find yourself thinking in all directions? What do you do when that happens?