Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3 … 4, 5!

Yesterday, I wrote an arun poem for the first time in forever. And a few people commented that it was a form they weren’t familiar with, so I thought I’d post about aruns tonight.

It’s no surprise that the arun isn’t a familiar form because … wait for it … I invented it! No, really. As crazy as that sounds, I did. For poetry month in 2012 the form I chose was the Zeno. When I read about it, I discovered that it was a fairly new form, created in 2009. And that surprised me. I’d never really thought about inventing a form, figured all the forms had already been invented. Or that inventing forms was someone else’s domain, certainly not mine. But there was the Zeno, only a few years old when I learned about it.

Then, in 2013, another slice-of-life writer introduced me to OULIPO and snowball poems (scroll down the page to see the description). Combining my thoughts about the Zeno with the idea of the snowball pushed me to play around with patterns I liked, and — voilà! — I came up with the arun with its specific syllable count but no rhyme scheme because I still haven’t quite reconciled myself to rhymes.

The arun: a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.

It still doesn’t seem possible that I created a form. That’s really should be, must be, someone else’s domain. But here we are, with the arun. “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba (according to The Google), and the name was chosen by popular vote in a little blog poll I put up. It’s not super sophisticated, but I like it.

Here’s one I found in a draft blog post from three years ago:

this game —
eyes open
senses alert.
Listen for every
sighed exhale.
Don’t show your hand.
For now, in silence,
Keep still —
hold your breath.
Listen. Listen.
This is the reveal.

I have no idea what I was upset about on April 17, 2014, but this didn’t express it well enough. I like the one I posted on that day better than this one, but I wanted to share this one anyway. (It was languishing in my “Drafts” folder all this time, seemed only fair.)

Still not sure what form I’ll write next month, but wanted to clear up the mystery of “what’s an arun, and where did it come from?”

If you write an arun, I’d love to read it. If you link to it in the comments, I’ll be sure to check it out.

Or, perhaps, instead of writing an arun, you’ll create a form of your own! If you do, please share. I’d love to try my hand at your new form!

It’s the 10th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see all of today’s slices

12 thoughts on “Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3 … 4, 5!

  1. LSquared

    I see a pattern of 3 syllables then 2 – but I’m not sure how 5 explains the form of the entire poem. I’m curious. I’ve been wanting to try some free verse. Thanks.


    1. I’m going to add an edit to the post that explains the pattern. It’s 15-lines, 3 sets of 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and then 5-syllable lines. Maybe part of my problem with this poem — what left it in the draft folder — was that “every” can read as 2 syllables or 3, depending on how you say it. For me, it has 2 syllables, but not for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I personally like the arun posted here. The waiting for that shoe to drop, those true colors to be revealed. That sense of dread, yet vindication. I like the mystery of the not actually telling what it s that offends. That you don’t remember what it was is likely a good thing.


  3. Okay, this is amazing. And I just realized that I, too, thought all the forms had been created and/or creating forms was just someone else’s domain. Something to think about.


  4. Pingback: Picking Favorites: Big Little Lies & other feelings | The Englishist

  5. Pingback: 3-18-21 | wake up and write

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