ENTRIES ARE OFFICIALLY CLOSED
Entries close midnight Sunday, November 21.
The First Annual Numéro Cinq Rondeau Writing Contest opens for entries November 1 (midnight tonight as of this writing). The rondeau is a slightly intricate little form (see preamble and definitions below). You should not attempt to write one under the influence of intoxicants or while using a cell phone (unless you are writing it on your cell phone). Also do not attempt to operate heavy machinery while composing your rondeau. Don’t shy away from trying a rondeau just because you consider yourself a rhyme & rhythm-challenged prose-writer. Fiction and nonfiction writers always need a dash of form in their lives, something to make them sit up straight (or just to jar the gears loose). As with all the NC contests, there is a method behind the madness. Beyond the discipline of form, we discover the freedom of aesthetic space. Every contest is a teaching moment, a formal lesson, and a moment of unleashing (paradoxical as that seems). Also, if you look at our previous contests, you will see that they are fun. Submit entries by typing them into the comment box beneath this post.
The rondeau is an old French form, and, like the villanelle, works with a refrain. The refrain starts as the first words of the first line of the poem and is repeated at the end of the second and third stanzas. And the trick is to get the refrain, especially at the end, to dovetail nicely with the theme of the poem. (It might be helpful to begin with the refrain and invent the rest of the poem around it.) And just because I started this in a tone of high seriousness doesn’t mean you can’t parody the form. Remember arrogance and wit are the supreme values at Numéro Cinq.
Here is a description of the form patched in from the About.com rondeau page (check this out for more examples).
As it is used in modern English, the rondeau is a poem of 15 lines of eight or ten syllables arranged in three stanzas — the first stanza is five lines (quintet), the second four lines (quatrain), and the final stanza six lines (sestet). The first part of the first line becomes the rondeau’s rentrement (refrain) when it is repeated as the last line of each of the two succeeding stanzas. Aside from the rentrement, which obviously rhymes because it is the same repeated words, only two rhymes are used in the entire poem. The entire scheme looks like this (with “R” used to indicate the rentrement):
As with all previous NC contests, you enter by copying your poem into a comment at the foot of this post. Entry is open to anyone, not just card-carrying members of the NC community. If you are under 16, please indicate this fact in case we want to set up a separate contest class. Enter more than once, if you like. Please proofread your poem before you hit the submit button because you can’t go back and edit it after it’s submitted. The contest begins November 1 and closes midnight November 21. Remember to display wit and arrogance. You don’t stand a chance in this pirate crowd without wit and arrogance (and a sense of humour). Also please get the form straight (rhyme scheme & refrain) before you enter! Canadian spelling will win you extra points but is not necessary.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
As is W. E. Henley’s “In Rotten Row.”
In Rotten Row
In Rotten Row a cigarette
I sat and smoked, with no regret
For all the tumult that had been.
The distances were still and green,
And streaked with shadows cool and wet.
Two sweethearts on a bench were set,
Two birds among the boughs were met;
So love and song were heard and seen
In Rotten Row.
A horse or two there was to fret
The soundless sand; but work and debt,
Fair flowers and falling leaves between,
While clocks are chiming clear and keen,
A man may very well forget
In Rotten Row.
Newcomers who are unfamiliar with the way our contests operate, please look at the Contests page.
The usual expensive prizes, laurels, kudos will be awarded at the usual venue. For those who wish to tip the judges (cash, gold, Treasury bills) beforehand, an address will be provided. Competition is expected to be fierce, vicious, underhanded, and highly politicized.