Give Me Headlines

For the past week I have been obsessed (or you could frame it as I am playing) with this five line format that begins with a quotation. One thing that I have found with these quotation poems is that you need a quote that is short and snappy. I started poetry practice today noodling with a a rather long quotation from Maria Mitchell quotation that appeared in a Brainpickings blog post.

Whatever our degree of friends may be, we come more under their influence than we are aware.

Maria Mitchell, Astronomer

This is a truly interesting take on friendship and merits contemplation. But that quotation runs into two lines. Which rather defeats the attempt at writing a five liner poem. It’s a quart spilling over the rim of the pint pot. So ideally, I reckon, for this form to work seamlessly, you need something short and snappy. You need a quotation that is really a headline. Also interesting is that snippets cadged from poets seem to really lend themselves to the form. Today’s Poetry Daily borrows a quotation, a single line, from Theodore Roetke’s poem “The Waking.”


"I feel my fate in what I cannot fear."
What roads I walked, and my dreams, brought me here.
I have past the point of sleep. I wake early from those dreams.
I read their runic truth, resolute, fathom out their themes.
I walk the day's road brave, with focus unfogged and clear.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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