Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is a Paradelle in My Future?

There was a reading here at VCCA the other night and the poet read a paradelle she had written. This is a form invented by poet Billy Collins that has incredibly strict (and almost laughable) requirements as evidenced by the footnote he included when he first published his paradelle:

"The paradelle is one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d'oc love poetry of the eleventh century. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only these words."

He told people that this form had been invented in 11th century France, when in fact he had made it all up to poke fun at restrictive forms (parody + villanelle = paradelle). But even though it was a joke form, a number of poets have given it a whirl, and it seems just crazy enough that I might try one. (As you may recall, I’m obsessed with villanelles, not that I would dare think of attempting one of those; that's serious stuff!)

I actually liked the woman’s paradelle, though unfortunately I don’t have a copy to share. But here’s where to read Billy Collins’ paradelle—which is pretty silly.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.