Welcome to the NotGraphs Villanelle Challenge

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The winter season and its accompanying ham-based feasts have left all of us – yes, I mean all of us – somewhat indolent. The wire is quiet this time of year, the football playoffs are full of shouting and trumpet fanfares, and even hockey has crawled out of its burrow and glimpsed its own shadow, ensuring six weeks of a regular season. To stave off this baseball hypothermia, I issued a Villanelle Challenge to the esteemed authors of this fair site, its readers, and by extension, the world.

“What is a villanelle?” those of you with useful undergraduate degrees might ask. Wikipedia explains it best: “A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines.” Or, as Robert Wallace put it: “There are enough villanelles in English to convince us that poets like to make trouble for themselves.” Here are a few famous examples.

As with any real contest, the NotGraphs Villanelle Challenge offers no rewards and holds no serious purpose. Those who would like to submit their own poems can do so through the hotline; by the end of the week they will be read, judged with the utmost partiality, and the best of the best will be posted here on Friday. Think of the glory! Think of conquering the most imposing, ridiculous monument in English-language poetry! Think about finding a rhyming dictionary!

But first: a villanelle about the newly unemployed Rick VandenHurk.

VandenHurk

The Tale of VandenHurk

Beware the tale of VandenHurk, my friends.
Time and turbulence defy us all.
No matter what the plot, each saga ends.

He made his voyage from the Netherlands
Beginning as a tempest, now a squall.
Beware the tale of VandenHurk, my friends.

At first one sees one’s unpaid dividends
And verdant Spring follows from every Fall –
No matter what the age, each season ends.

For perfect as the pitch each man intends
The efforts of good men fly o’er the wall.
Consider those of  VandenHurk, my friends.

These somber truths we too late comprehend
Reliving glories, tinged with alcohol.
No matter what the plot, each saga ends.

There is not always time to make amends.
For VandenHurk, there’ll be no curtain call.
Beware the tale of VandenHurk, my friends.
No matter what the plot, ours too will end.




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Patrick Dubuque is a wastrel and a general layabout. Many of the sites he has written for are now dead. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.


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Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 6 months ago

Can the top three entrants, or perhaps all the entrants, be read in a dramatic, perhaps even melodramatic, fashion by Carson Cistulli and/or Dayn Perry and/or yourself on FanGraphs Audio?

John
Member
John
3 years 6 months ago

Maybe those of us who haven’t been BANNED could. Ahem.

Satisfyingly-Sated Scotsman
Guest
Satisfyingly-Sated Scotsman
3 years 6 months ago

I shall send my submission pseudonymously!

Sienna Zeilinger
Member
Sienna Zeilinger
3 years 6 months ago

as a member of The World, I submit, for your melodramatic consideration:

On Brandon McCarthy’s Head, As Well As Its Contents

Protect the head of BMac, that we must
His cutter set the O.co mound ablaze
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

His smarts, they said, could lift us from our dust
And folks advised, when him they did appraise
Protect the head of BMac, that we must

And when, one fateful day, he got concussed
We crafted wretched tweets and spurned replays
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

Eyes damp, we went about our lives nonplussed
We held our breaths and muttered through our days
Protect the head of BMac, that we must

He’s back! they cried, and Jane Lee’d and Sue Sluss’d
He watched with us Texas and los Tigres
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

So why AZ? This explanation’s just
His brain’s still fucked, is why he left our A’s
Protect the head of BMac, that we must
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

wpDiscuz