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Mesostic Poetry

Participating in the Poetry Postcard Projects, I enjoy seeking out new forms of poetry and trying my very amatuer hand at them. I came across mesostic poetry for the first time in my memory (meaning I’m getting old enough to forget more). I certainly remember acrostic poetry, but not mesostic – and certainly not in its “true” form.

Developed by John Cage, with some pretty specific rules for the “true” form, it is a fun and challenging style to practice. To help with my understanding, I came across this site developed by Matthew McCabe, created “to fulfill the requirements of the graduate student final project for 20th Century Innovators: John Cage, a class taught by Dr. Elainie Lillios at Bowling Green State University.” The site includes a mesostic generator, in which you can enter the word you would like ‘mesostomized’ and the url of a site from which you would like the words for the poem chosen.

I had some fun with this, trying simple to complex words as well as names (it can handle both first and last names with a space between them). It’s interesting to see site code often selected and placed into the poem. At first I found this disappointing, but, in keeping with the nature of the poem, it does follow all the “rules” and is an twist on John Cage’s concept – bringing it into the language of computer-speak. Still, I enjoyed the true-word selections best. While random or chance poetry forms are controversial, I find them to be a delightful discovery – maybe not every time, but so it goes with any poetry.

Image from mesostic.com

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