Poetry Friday: practicing the Naani form

I’ve been doing some practicing lately.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllA couple of weeks ago, I came upon a relatively new form of poetry called Naani, which was created by one of India’s foremost poets, Dr. N Gopi, who hails from the Teluga region in southern India.

It’s a short form, and shares some similarities with haiku/senryu. Like the Japanese forms, Naani poetry has a set line- and syllable-count. It is a 4-line poem that usually contains a total 20-25 syllables, although I’ve come across many that are a few syllables short.

Unlike haiku, subject matter is not confined to nature, but is fairly wide open. From what I’ve read, the term ‘naani’ refers to an expression of one and all; most Naani poems touch upon emotions, relationships, and the human condition.

Like haiku/senryu, it is deceptively difficult!

As I often say, writing haiku is easy; writing good haiku is anything but. The same is true for Naani poems. The following three are my first attempts at this form, so when you read them, please keep in mind I’m a newbie! I don’t often post poems that I lack confidence in – but this is a learning exercise, so I want you to be able to see what’s happening and perhaps join in, yourself.

Naani #1

Temper, undisciplined,
sparks the forest-consuming fire;
from self-control,
green springs

.

Naani #2

Laugh when you can,
dance when you want to,
smile when you should, and everyday
swallow your heart

.

Naani #3

Crimson-tinged sun drops,
life floods rimy ground; the grave
shines, as we
grieve the spectacle

.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Taking a critical eye toward these, I feel the first one reads too much like a fortune cookie; the second is a bit too trite; the third I’m fairly happy with, especially because I felt I was able to use enjambment to my advantage. (By the way, if you’re wondering what “swallow your heart” means, I share that HERE) Oh, and one other characteristic about the Naani form is that the first line usually – but not always – states the subject of the poem…you’l notice I strayed from this on the second one.

I would love to see what you come up with, if you’d care to take a “Naani challenge! As I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Just leave your poems in the comments, or feel free to email them to my address in the upper right, and I’ll share them here over the next few weeks. (I’d also love to find out if you can discern what that 3rd poem is about…I deliberately kept it ambiguous to hopefully allow for more than one interpretation, so I hope it worked!)

Want  more poetry? Be sure to drop by Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, for all of today’s Poetry Friday links!

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19 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: practicing the Naani form

  1. dmayr

    I might give it shot, Matt! I would like to read more examples first, so I guess I have some research ahead! About the subject of #3, I have to say election politics–isn’t EVERYTHING about politics these days? 😉

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  2. Matt, I am intrigued by the naani form. Perhaps, you will create one for my spring gallery (that Is if I can ever find enough time to design the winter one). As I was trying to decipher your third poem, I see that Diane packaged it quite nicely. Since “Scandal” had its final episode of the season last night and the writers had all the intrigue packed into one bullet after the next, politics being the source of many deceptions, I tend to agree with Diane. Have a great day. (I liked reading all your learnings from the writers’ conference).

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  3. Ooooh, what an interesting new-to-me form! I find the fact that it deals with emotions, relationships, and the human condition especially appealing. I’m bookmarking your post to give it a try at some point, but probably not anytime soon. (I’m swamped right now!) I honestly don’t know what the third one is about (I didn’t get election politics from it at all), but I enjoyed it for the imagery and mood you evoke.

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    1. It is a fun form to tackle, but you’re right about needing time…these were not easy to put together, and I wrote them all in one night! (explains why I’m less than ecstatic over the first two, I suppose!) I didn’t get politic out of that last one myself, but that’s the great thing about poetry, right?

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  4. This is new to me too, Matt. I do like what you’ve written, and like haiku, these make me pause to consider, and that feels good. I like “green springs”. Will see what I can do with this intriguing form. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Matt,
    For the third poem, I got melting snow and the welcoming change of seasons and relationships. But, isn’t asking us to interpret the meaning a bit like Billy Collins saying–roping a poem to a chair. Isn’t this why kids hate being taught poetry?
    I’m currently reading THE TIJUANA BOOK OF THE DEAD, poems by Luis Alberto Urrea. He has lots of short haiku-like poems he calls “road songs” and “sutras.” I’m really enjoying the book.

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    1. Yes, I love Collins’ quote – and he’s right. But he’s saying we should interpret the poems in our own unique ways, not that we shouldn’t interpret them at all…poems may have many different meanings or emotions, and we should embrace them all, rather than spend time trying to nail down just one.

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  6. maryleehahn

    Thank you for a “here they are even if I’m not confident” post! That’s the truth about many of the poems I share.

    This new form is one I’d like to try. Your turns at the ends of all three work well, but I agree that the third is the best.

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