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The Bop: Poetic Forms

Learn how to write the bop, a poetic form developed by poet Afaa Michael Weaver at a Cave Canem summer retreat. Get the guidelines and an example poem here.

Since it's always good to challenge ourselves to do new things, I'm going to try my hand at The Bop, which is a poetic form that was developed by poet Afaa Michael Weaver at a Cave Canem summer retreat.

Here are the basic rules for The Bop:

  • 3 stanzas
  • Each stanza is followed by a refrain
  • First stanza is 6 lines long and presents a problem
  • Second stanza is 8 lines long and explores or expands the problem
  • Third stanza is 6 lines long and either presents a solution or documents the failed attempt to resolve the problem

(By the way, thanks to January O'Neil for pointing me in the direction of this poetic form.)

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The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

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Here is my attempt at The Bop:

"Wasted opportunities," by Robert Lee Brewer

I watch a black cat descend from the moon
on a ladder made of broken mirrors
and spilled salt. At first, I'm shocked that no one
notices, but then, no one notices
anything anymore, or at least, that
is what the experts say and why argue.

Every bad sign is a chance to forgive our neighbors.

Why argue with experts, because they don't
notice the black cat or the ladder. They're
busy sharing their expertise with those
people who don't notice anything (not
anymore), because sometimes it takes sledge
hammers to drive home nails of reason. Cats
and ladders and moons and mirrors, they fall
as the people don't notice and explain

every bad sign is a chance to forgive our neighbors.

Thinking I'm in this alone, I decide
the only thing I can do is ignore
the cat descending from the moon on its
ladder made of broken mirrors. Then I
wonder if that's what everyone else
is doing--pretending to not notice

every bad sign is a chance to forgive our neighbors.

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