Saturday, February 28, 2009


Gail White is one of the most clever poets out there. Here's a poem of hers that's particularly relevant these days--and her refrain sounds like a John Lee Hooker song!

Ballade of the Common Lot

Lai, Virelai, and Lai Nouveau welcome at the Rondeau Roundup

The lai, virelai and lai noveau are criminally neglected and frightfully difficult forms. Examples of these forms are also welcome at the Rondeau Roundup. 

Directions for writing a lai can be found under the links list at left.  One of the few examples of the lai I can find is Chryss Yost's lovely "Lai with Sounds of Skin." Here's a link to the poem on Chryss's website:

Chryss Yost

Who says Rondeaus can't be sexy?

His Mouth

My husband has the mouth that haunts.
To satisfy my body's wants,
I need to feel his lips on mine,
our thoughts and limbs both intertwined,
my satisfaction no mere taunt.

His life before? It hardly counts,
his other loves too brief to flaunt.
What matters now is how I shine
beneath his tongue, so deftly kind.
Eradicating every doubt,
my husband has

made me forget those bills that mount,
and filled our bed with breathy shouts,
abundant lust that makes these lines
my testament to barest times.
So sad to hear your husband won't--
my husband has.

Allison Joseph

BIO: Allison Joseph is the Rondeau Mistress of the Rondeau Roundup. She teaches at SIU in Carbondale, Illinois,  and also runs the writers' list-serve CRWROPPS.

A Ballade by Marilyn Taylor

Ballades are the longest form we'll include here at the Rondeau Roundup, and also one of the hardest. Here's a funny one from poet Marilyn Taylor, who is the current Poet Laureate of Wisconsin.

Ballade of the Open Mike

                          —Bookshop poster

O will you won’t you join the gang
down at the books-and-java store
where browsers browse and poets hang?
We long to greet you at the door
and steer you to the second floor
where we’ll festoon the atmosphere
with rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor—
         the poems you didn’t know you came to hear!

Linger for the whole shebang,
and get more than what you bargained for!
Poems in Spanish, poems in slang,
ripe confessionals galore,
piles of sex (please don’t keep score),
and now and then a sonneteer
will show you why you can’t ignore
        those incandescent poems you need to hear!

And if some old orangutang
has rescued from a dresser drawer
his strange pentameter harangue,
or some benighted sophomore
reveals her fling in Singapore—
five minutes and they’re outta here,
making way for lines that soar:
       the kind you’ve waited far too long to hear!

You simply can’t go home before
we breathe our blessings in your ear—
our songs of the unsung troubadour,
       the ones we know you really came to hear!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: Two Rondeaux by Moira Egan

Snow Rondeau

      Michael Furey

Let it snow let it snow let it snow
the children chant outside, though grown-ups know
that the pristine, mystical hush
becomes, next day, wheels squealing, ugly slush.
Yet we smile and stand at the window.

Inside I sip hot chocolate and Cointreau.
Let me tell you something you don’t know:
a voice inside me keeps me free from touch.
       Let its no

ring out to the whirling circles of snow
falling, as if “general all over Ireland,” slow,
on the grave of the boy who dies of a mutinous
heart, and the man who’s crushed
to learn he loves a woman he doesn’t know.
       Let it snow.

(first appeared in Potomac Review)

Grimm Rondeau

I bite my tongue. I’ve seen what can go wrong
when ugly words come dripping off the tongue
as poisonous as snakes and lizards from
that fairy tale. It’s better to go dumb,
to swallow what I want to say. That song

—Dad’s calling, 3 a.m.— of all that’s wrong
with me: I’m stupid, useless, fat, and going
nowhere fast, just like my mother. Um—
I bite my tongue.

I know he’s drunk and doesn’t mean the things
he says to me
. So now when things go wrong
between me and my lover, I go numb.
Because I’ve been injected with words’ venom
and still remain affected by the sting,
      I bite my tongue.

(first appeared in the online journal Innisfree)

BIO: Moira Egan has an MFA from Columbia University, where James Merrill chose her manuscript for the David Craig Austin Prize. Her books include Cleave (WWPH, 2004) and La Seta della Cravatta (a bi-lingual volume, forthcoming from Edizioni L'Obliquo, Italy, 2009). Her poems have appeared in many journals and in several anthologies including Best American Poetry 2008 and Poesie per anime gemelle (Newton Compton Editori, Rome). With Damiano Abeni, she published Un mondo che non può essere migliore: Poesie scelte 1956-2007, a substantial selection of poems by John Ashbery (Sossella Editore, Italy, 2008). She lives in Rome.

Monday, February 23, 2009

TEACH THIS POEM: Sophie Hannah's "Rondeau Redouble"

Sophie Hannah's a whiz at these forms. Here's her "Rondeau Redouble"

Rondeau Redouble

Triolets Welcome Too!

One of the smallest members of the Rondeau family, the TRIOLET is welcome here too at the Rondeau Roundup.

Here's a new one:

Triolet for Gen. Ann Dunwoody

Whether you put her on the line,
she has laid down her life
and made a vow, conscious design.
Whether you put her on the line
she's come through horrors, blood, and strife:
wedded to country and to man, a double wife.
Whether you put her on the line,
she has laid down her life.

Mary Alexandra Agner

Red Carpet Rondeau

To inaugurate the Rondeau Roundup, here's one of my own, inspired by watching too many awards shows!

Red Carpet Rondeau

You wear the dress that costs a lot
so commentators call you hot.
You grin as if you’re glad to be
in a tight dress on live TV,
your face and tummy both too taut.

You pose for yet another shot,
smile big to show off all you’ve got.
The paparazzi all agree
you wear that dress

designed for you by some big shot
like you were born to it. You flaunt
and strut, afraid that you’ll be history.
If you don’t win tonight, you’re free
to be the one that everyone’s forgot.
You wear the dress.

Welcome to a blog devoted to RONDEAUS and other fantastic repeating forms!

I've started this blog to honor the RONDEAU and its related brethren: the rondel, roundel, rondolet, triolet and the rondeau redouble. I'm looking forward to reading new examples of these time-honored forms.

Why did I start this blog? There are lots of internet resources for sonnets, villanelles, sestinas and pantoums, forms which I love but will not cover here. There aren't hardly as many for the rondeau and its associated forms.

If you've written a rondeau, rondel, rondolet, triolet or rondeau redouble, send it to me for possible inclusion on this blog. Send to

Allison Joseph
Rondeau Mistress