Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lovelife of Pi

Until last week, I hadn't written a poem since school. It's not that I've felt a mortal terror of poetry, more of a complete inability to know where to start. I enjoy reading poetry, I'm always overwhelmingly impressed when a member of my writing group brings a poem to share, but the thought of putting pen to paper and coming up with something that looks and sounds like a poem .... It just seemed completely impossible. 

But then, last month, one of the members of aforementioned writing group set us a challenge (a challenge that she herself had been set by a colleague at the school where she teaches).

Write a poem of forty words.

Easy! I hear you cry. Well, hold your horses. That's not even the half of it ... The number of letters in each word must correspond to the first forty digits of pi. Remember pi? The circumference of a circle = 2πr and all that? Pi starts 3.141... So your poem starts with a three-letter word, and then a one-letter word, and then a four-letter word. And so on and so forth until the fortieth digit.

Rather than striking fear into my heart, as this might with any sane person, I actually quite liked the sound of it. This was my somewhere to start. A structure that I could work with to try and expell my poetic demons.

So many hours, a glass of wine, and lots of letter-counting later, here's what I came up with:
I look, a glance, desperate.
He stands still, face drawn
Immobile, heartsick, broken.

Ridiculed are we.
The taunting fates denied us -
Denied love.

But now marriage.
And my husband loitering close by: deceived, trusting.
A dreadful mistake.
I'm the first to admit it's not a work of artistic genius, and that it doesn't make as much sense as I'd like. But I love it. I'm finally off the starting blocks, and next time I'm wondering where to start with poetry, perhaps I'll look back at this and remember it wasn't as scary as I'd thought.

Fancy having a go yourself? The first forty digits of pi are: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197
Please share your efforts below!


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