Friday, May 29, 2020

Wild Fridays #21: Thought Provokers

Elevensies by Kerri Shying 

I'm labelling these as thought-provoking for the form rather than the content. (Which doesn’t mean that they don’t invite thinking about what they say!) It's a new form, which I thought might interest you as much as it does me.

there’s you    reminder of a past   run back
on ghost feet    too wild
in longing   for far
spaces    hung and drawn now
dried as salt eel

stiff as the wind off the sea

you still able    to prick
the water out of eyes
as dry of love    as the linen
worn thin    hung warm
out on the line

from Elevensies (Newcastle, Puncher & Wattman, Slow Loris series, 2018.)
This can be bought directly from the author (email: kezshying at gmail dot com).

Sunday    I learned about potatoes
hidden   dirty   grown in tyres
winter  fruit  of blazing sunshine under
withered tops   gathering the handfuls  I’m
childish with delight   would the

                                         garden of Eden have been a different story

If Eve had offered Adam the potato
sat roasting  round the fire
skin cloaks pulled tight for warmth
heavy bellied  after carbs   curling up
for sleep   spuds born innocent and free

from Knitting Mangrove Roots (Macau, China and Markwell, Australia: Flying Island Books, ASM, and Cerberus Press, 2019. Pocket Poets series). 

Kerri Shying, an Australian poet of Chinese and Wiradjuri family, is the creator of this form. The blurb of Knitting Mangrove Roots says "The elevensies form was invented spontaneously in conversation between Kerri and Kit Kelen" (Australian poet and visual artist, formerly Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Macau) "who noticed that this was how things were tending for her, and that an eleven liner could become a respectable form in its own right: a form any poet might attempt. Five lines either side and the middle line’s the title, that’s all there is to it."

In each of these books, the titles in the contents page act like another poem. (And yes, the pivot lines / titles are displayed differently in each book, as shown above. It's merely a typographical difference, but I thought it would be interesting to show you both  possibilities. Visual presentation matters too.)

I recently heard Kerri read some of her elevensies at a session of the local Poets Out Loud poetry readings – currently presented on Zoom, which means we can get to hear poets like Kerri, who lives a long way from here (in Newcastle, near Sydney). I fell in love with the form and hastened to buy these books, which had me love it all the more.

As she is eager for other poets to give it a try, I did. (See here and here.) And I encourage you to do so too. (They could be your offerings for the next Writers' Pantry.)

Here are two more from Knitting Mangrove Roots – contrasting pieces, equally satisfying.

sex is for the poor   amid the rubble
of their earthquakes   fleeing from
the death squads   one last shot at
heaven   off-chance   tomorrow  comes
substitute consumption   with

                                                             life's untaxed little luxury

so far away   my memory   of morning
you woke me  flew us both  to Paris
walked me   on a whim   hand in soft-skin
hand   the blue-stone cobbles   made love
in gold sunlight   saw  colour    anew

sex is for the rich   the taking
to places of woo  the beds
strewn  like sets  with rumple
impoverista  cry for sleep
a pillow   partner silent

                                                  lacking snores the recipe for love 

you made me a cuppa  before
you went to work  it was
with one sugar  I didn't mind
maybe I needed    one
big day   on the plate   so sweet


 Post Script 

Magaly recently mentioned the new book, Riders of the Tempest, by our frequent contributor H. Hennenburg, so I grabbed a free copy from Kobo. (It's still available free there, and from Kindle and iBooks.) What a thrill to see that she has included us in her Acknowledgments. 

Thanks, Heather; lovely to be appreciated. You're awesome!

Everybody, this acknowledgment is for all of us. Please take a bow and/or give yourself a pat on the back, knowing that by participating here, and turning up to read others' writings and leave comments, it is you who build this community. We all have a part in developing not only our own writing but each other's too. You're all awesome!

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.


  1. Oooohhh...Thanks, Rosemary! You KNOW I'm gonna give this a try!

    1. Done! Thanks Again! Read it here:

    2. When I copied and pasted the link, it didn't work for me, Ron. I'd love to see what you came up with! Maybe you'd like to link the poem to the Pantry on Sunday?

  2. I’m so glad to see an eleven-line poem – and that it’s called elevensies, I’ll aim to write one at eleven this morning with my cuppa! – as my poems often end up with ‘odd’ lengths, eleven and thirteen seem to come up a lot but I’m superstitious so I try to add a line to make them up to fourteen. I like the spaces in these poems, too. I especially like the isolated line in the middle.

    1. I'll look forward to seeing what you write!

    2. I've just added to the post a suggestion that people trying this form in the near future might like to link it to this Sunday's Writers' Pantry.

    3. I've already got a piece of prose to link up this Sunday. I wrote two elevensies but I'm linking them up to two prompts next week.

    4. I was afraid that might be the case, Kim. As long as we get to see them some time (smile).

  3. This is an absolutely interesting form. I will definitely give it a try.
    Thank you for giving the background of this form, and sharing the elevensies of Kerri. 😃

  4. I love the introduction of new poetry forms!! Can’t wait to try.

  5. Ooh this is soo exciting! I can't wait to try my hand at this form 😃 thank you so much for introducing us to Kerri's work and background of Elevensies, Rosemary 💘

  6. Here's mine~:

  7. I can see I'd have done well to include a Mister Linky with this post – but as I didn't, please everyone link your elevensies on one of our Sundays.

  8. I like the elevensies, thank you for their introduction. I may try writing one this weekend. Potatoes have an extra meaning for me, I've told before and this may be the form to use in telling some of that. An ode might leave me more latitude with them in the write.

    1. Now I'm fascinated to read what you might tell us about potatoes and you!

  9. You have featured some wonderful pieces here. This form is fascinating, Rosemary. I have long found that crystalizing your poetic thoughts into 5 lines, can create some compelling impressions and images. (Probably why I'm such a big fan of tanka.) This elevensies form seems, to me, to provide even more impactful possibilities. The title in the middle is inspired.

    1. Isn't it just? At first I thought it would have to mean longish titles, like those in my examples, but then discovered that some of Kerri's are as short as two words. So the possibilities are wide open!

  10. I will give elevensies a go. The form sounds like a lot of fun.

    And thank you for sharing H.'s acknowledgment of our group with the rest of us--I'm padding myself on the back while grinning. ;-)

    1. Icing on the cake: when I told H I'd done this, she said, 'Sometimes, we make a difference to someone's life just going about our usual business and we never know it. I like to let people know when I can. Thank you for communicating my gratitude to others.'

  11. I'm just back from a week of moving and 3 days of no wi-fi! As soon as I get my head on straight (hopefully) I want to try elevensies.

    1. Wow, that's major, Bev! A good thing to be coming out the other side of. I wish you happiness in the new home, and I look forward to seeing your elevensies.


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