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Getting in Shape for summer—dVerse MTB
The Etheree

I’ve been on the dVerse staff since the beginning, August, 2011. Glancing back in the archives, I saw that we have presented so many wonderful forms for seasoned and newbie poets to play with, and to stretch/develop our skills. In October, 2011, Gay Reiser Cannon offered the Etheree (and shape poetry in general) for our enjoyment. I browsed the links and saw that, of the 34 participants, only 4 of us are still hanging around the pub. So, I hope you don’t mind if I dip into the past and serve up this fun form for your pleasure.

The Etheree was developed by Arkansas poet, Etheree Taylor Armstrong in the late 20th Century. Here’s how it works:

An Etheree, based on syllables or words, is a geometric form, ascending from one to ten or inverted from ten to one. You can build as many sequences as you like, reversing the syllable/word count from ten to one (or not). It’s easier to grasp if you see an example:

Here is my first attempt (posted years ago)

Image: Wikipedia Labeled for noncommercial reuse

Image: Wikipedia
Labeled for noncommercial reuse

Flight Off of Half Dome
An etheree

in autumn
below the blue
canopy of sky.
Leaves crunch beneath your feet.
Where do crickets go on cold
fall days wrapped up in brilliant hues?
Why do the horses romp in sunlit
fields of green with wind whipping through their manes?

Where do crickets go on chilled winter days?
Yosemite-place of the gaping
mouth-belonged to the Miwok
until the white man came.
“Manifest Destiny”
they called it—God’s will.
The valley was
theirs to romp
in sun-

wok fled
in autumn
under the black
night sky in silent
flight off Half-Dome or through
wet leaves that could not crunch. Their
tears fell into the dark chasm
drowning the crickets who hid beneath
scarlet shrouds of all that came before death.
©Victoria Slotto 2010

(Poem process note: the Miwok are a tribe of Central California Indians who were displaced from Yosemite under the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”—the belief that God had designs that the American West was to become the domain of Euro-American settlers.)

The first stanza, a traditional Etheree, goes from 1 to 10 syllables.
The second stanza is a reverse Etheree, 10 to 1 syllables.

You can continue the process as long as you want until you have exhausted the topic, you can keep it to a single stanza, or you can build it upside down. As you see, the shape develops into the form of a rough pyramid, depending on the length of the chosen syllables or words.

Think about summer—just a little over a month away. If you want to get in shape, as the title of this post suggests, go for a reverse on top of a standard and you will end up with that hourglass figure. If only it were that easy!

deviant art--the etheree can also be left-aligned

The Etheree can also be left-aligned.

If you want to play:
• Write your Etheree on any topic and post it on your blog. Add a link to dVerse to your post, inviting your poet friends to join in.
• Copy the URL and paste it, along with your name, into Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
• Join in the conversation, if you like, by adding a comment to this post.
• Visit your fellow poets, read and comment on their work.
• Be creative and have fun.

For dVerse, this is Victoria, your hostess—looking forward to sipping poetry with you.