Tag Archives: On New Year’s Eve by Phillip Ellis

Pushing the boundary of form: A Guest Post by Phillip A. Ellis

A New Poetic Form? Or an Old One Transformed?
by Phillip A. Ellis

One of the joys of being a poet is the chance I have been given to develop and change forms, to work in the older traditions and create something new. In this way, many of our established poetic forms have been created and made possible.

One of the possibilities I find with poetry is its intersection with prose. The concept of the haibun is one that fascinates me, and I was thinking recently of a fixed, haibun-like form that incorporated a short, Western poetic form. So the following occurred to me, a possibility that combines Eastern and Western influences in a way that is unique to modern life.

The steps to take are relatively simple; they are:

1) write a ballade in free verse, with alternation of masculine and feminine endings rather than rhymes, and retaining the exact repetition of the final line (the address at the start of the envoi is optional)–the endings of the octets should be (m = masculine ending; f = feminine) mfmffmfm or fmfmmfmf, and the envoi fmfm or mfmf accordingly; and

2) the three octets should be then translated into prose, with the envoi retained as poetry.

The following is an example written to illustrate the form:

On New Year’s Eve

This is the time I find myself at thought upon the year preceding, on the friendships, events and accidents of fortune met and dealt with. On such evenings thoughts are forwards, upon the year to come, but mine, mine travel backwards in time, remembering the past with silent reveries on friends important, and so my heart acknowledges its debts.

Within my life, I’ve met so many, known so many, felt the force of friendship, knowing the time I had may last a day, a month, a season, year, may last for many, decades, or fall and fade so swiftly, too swiftly, dying a mayfly death; and so it goes. But time is fleeting, and I miss my friends with sorrow, and so my heart acknowledges its debts.

When the year dies, and when the new year rears and promises a newer start, I linger and raise a glass to those I’d known, and lost to time, to old acquaintaces, and, drinking before the risen rockets break in brilliance I think a final thought, a blessing borne upon the winds of time, a benediction, and so my heart acknowledges its debts.

David and Stephen, you may never read this,
and you may never know the poems I make,
but I would never dream these thoughts without you,
and so my heart acknowledges its debts.


And so, that’s it. I haven’t got a name for it yet, but am willing to listen to suggestions; what name would you give it?


Filed under discussions, poetry & publishing