Hello friends and welcome to the dVerse ten year celebration week. Today we conclude by meeting the bar by trying out a form or technique and I thought doing a chant poem would be great.
A chant is something we all know, it’s as old (or even older) than poetry itself. Think of the shaman singing his repetitive phrases that set him and the audience into trance. In these early forms it can actually be nonsense words, and it’s been speculated that chants might even be older than the spoken word. Or think of singing by yourself in the shower…
A chant actually doesn’t even need words, it can be nonsense words or sounds, you only need the energy and drive of repetition.
Take this into poetry we can use chant techniques of (extreme) repeating into your poem.
Consider for instance this excerpt from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself”
Ever the hard unsunk ground,
Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and the downward sun,
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real,
Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorned thumb, that
breath of itches and thirst,
Ever the vexer’s hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring
Ever the sobbing liquid of life,
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.
Or from Allan Ginsberg’s Howl
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
Listen to him reading Howl and you can really hear the chant in his poem.
If you wish you can combine the chant with list poetry which is also effective.
You can either write a chant, with real words or nonsense words where you focus on the sound and how it shall be sung.
Or incorporate elements of chant with hypnotic repetitions
When you have written your poem
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- Read and comment on the work of others.