Purging with a Pantoum

So many emotions and thoughts are swimming around in our hearts and minds these days, as many of us wonder and worry about the direction of our world.  If you’re like me, the pens have been burning through journal pages like a muscle car burning down the drag strip.  But journaling, as cathartic as it can be, does not always do the job.  Especially when the emotion filling those thoughts want to take on a poetic feel.Journaling

Months ago, I attended a women’s retreat where French Pantoum poetry was incorporated into a series of free writing exercises.  While I loved to write poems as a kid, I cannot say that I am a natural-born poet by any stretch.  Yet the French Pantoum gave me a creative outlet to give a beautiful form to many of my thoughts and feelings. And it is super easy to do!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Do some free-writing about whatever is on your heart.  For my first couple poems, I plucked lines from my journal that spoke to me.
  2. Pick six phrases from your writing that really resonate with you. Don’t give it too much thought.
  3. Using the form below, plug your six phrases into beautiful stanzas of poetry.  There is no rule or limit on the number of stanzas your poem should include.

French Pantoum

STANZA 1
Line1:___________________________________________________________
Line 2: __________________________________________________________
Line 3: __________________________________________________________
Line 4:___________________________________________________________

STANZA 2
Line 5 (repeat of line 2 in stanza 1):__________________________________
Line 6 (new line):__________________________________________________
Line 7 (repeat of line 4 in stanza 1):__________________________________
Line 8 (new line):__________________________________________________

STANZA 3
Line 9 (repeat line 6 of the previous stanza):___________________________
Line 10 (repeat line 3 of the first stanza):______________________________
Line 11 (repeat line 8 of the previous stanza):__________________________
Line 12 (repeat line 1 of the first stanza):______________________________

Below I shared my first French Pantoum, written during a time of great reflection in my life.  I’m certainly no expert on writing poetry, but I definitely recommend this form of creative expression. Write your own Pantoum. 

 

The Crosses We Bear

How different our lives would be without incessant clutching to our baggage, the crosses we bear
The sting from that time when someone else refused to acknowledge a part of you
Visualizing it, this feeling would be a thick, gray, inflexible mass
If only I could read my life story aloud with conviction and in a poetic sort of cadence

The sting from that time when someone else refused to acknowledge a part of you
What made me stronger when I couldn’t live anymore, not for one more day?
If only I could read my life story aloud with conviction and in a poetic sort of cadence
I tried to be helpful, but probably wasn’t very

What made me stronger when I couldn’t live anymore, not for one more day?
Visualizing it, this feeling would be a thick, gray, inflexible mass
I tried to be helpful, but probably wasn’t very
How different our lives would be without incessant clutching to our baggage, the crosses we bear

Photos courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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